REVIEW – KVM switches have been around for a long time. They are great for using one keyboard, video, and mouse with multiple systems. But what if you want to share more than these essentials? The TRENDnet TK-U404 can switch 4 USB 3.1 ports into 4 different computers. Read on to see what I think!
What is it?
The TRENDnet four computer 4-port USB 3.1 sharing switch is a bit of a niche product. Once the product is set up it permits switching four USB devices between 4 computers by pressing a button. the device requires no software and can be powered entirely by the USB connections going into the system. Another way to describe it is a shared USB hub.
What’s in the box?
- Quick Installation Guide
- 4x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A to Type A
- 1x Micro USB Cable
- Hardware Interface
- 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A for PCs
- 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A for devices
- 1 x Micro USB
- Switching Control: Push button
- Operating Temperature: 0° – 40° C (32° – 104° F)
- Operating Humidity: Max. 90% non-condensing
- Power: USB Powered
- Dimensions: 117 x 71 x 22mm (4.6 x 2.8 x 0.87 in.)
- Weight: 98 g (3.5 oz.)
- Warranty: 2 year
- Certifications: CE, FCC Class B, ROHS
Design and features
The TRENDnet four computer 4-port USB 3.1 sharing switch has the part number TK – U404. I’m always wary of a Computing device that has the 404 HTTP Page Not Found code in the part number. However, unlike a web address that is poorly formatted or incorrect, this device has everything in its proper place and is put together as TRENDnet has intended.
The TRENDnet TK – U404 comes in a color printed box with pictures of the product on the front and details about the features and what is included in the box printed on the sides. The box says that it includes 24/7 technical support, but it is really such a simple device that technical support must be very limited. Still, if problems are encountered while plugging USB devices into the ports at 3 AM, TRENDnet is there to suggest the cable or thumb drive be rotated so it fits.
Opening the box reveals the switch on top of a plastic form. Under the form are five cables a safety note and a quick installation guide.
The switch is packaged in a plastic bag to protect it from dust and has a plastic laminate over the polished plastic section of the case to protect it from scratches.
The TRENDnet TK – U404 is a small device that is built around the circuit board within. The top of the unit is adorned with the TRENDnet logo and labels for each of the ports on the unit. Most of the top is a glossy black plastic but a matte black strip to the right side provides contrast. The top is actually mostly translucent and will show the LED indicators on the circuit boards within to indicate which “PC” the device is connected to, and for this reason, it is important that the top of the unit is visible.
The front of the unit has USB ports for three devices, the button to switch between connected PC’s and a vent port for internal components. The USB ports for devices are separated by about a quarter-inch from each other.
This is adequate for most thumb drives and cables but may be too narrow for a USB SD reader. The USB ports have solid feeling springs on the top to hold the devices in place when inserted. The button is not difficult to press but because the unit is so light, the case must be held in place when the button is pressed. It would be great if the unit came with velcro or adhesive to keep it from moving around.
There is also a USB port for a device on the rear, most suitable for a keyboard/mouse adapter, printer, or other device connection that does not need frequent access. This is also separated by about a quarter-inch from the PC connections. The rest of the rear has the four connections to the PC, separated by about an eighth-inch from each other.
The left side has a micro-USB connection for a power adapter. The TK-U404 will only power the USBs if a PC is connected. So selecting a PC port that is not connected to a PC will effectively turn off the USB power. When connected to a USB device the ports will provide a maximum of 2.23 Amps at 3.9 Volts (8.7 watts). The maximum power draw is independent of whether the power port is connected or not. If it is connected, it appears that the maximum draw is 1.04 Amps at 5.00 Volts (5.2 watts). The power port appears to be a way to supplement the power draw from the USB connection but will not replace it, will not keep the connected devices powered, and will not provide more power to the connected devices than available through the PC’s USB connection.
The cables that come with the TRENDnet TK-U404 are thick and sturdy, with molded connectors and what must be a generous amount of shielding in the cable. Each is about four feet long. My only criticism is that the ends are 180 degrees offset so that the cable doesn’t lay flat when connected to a device. This is half-remedied if the cable is connected to a USB that is oriented vertically but makes it hard to keep things neat if it is not.
The TRENDnet TK-U404 works just like a hub that is switched between multiple computers. Switching connection between computers before USB drives are dismounted will potentially cause data loss so it is important to ensure that this step is performed.
I tested the transfer rate of a USB 3.0 USB drive plugged into a computer and plugged into the TK-U404. The results from Crystal Disk Mark are presented below:
This is from the USB thumb drive plugged into the computer:
This is from the USB thumb drive plugged into the switch:
There is not a significant difference in the speed test.
What I like
- Simple design
What I’d change
- rubber feet for the bottom
Sometimes there is a perfect solution for a unique problem. If you have the need to move multiple USB devices across multiple computers the TRENDnet TK-U404 may make your life easier.