Tag Archives: dual

The “Road Warrior” Home Solution: Integrating Work Laptop and Home CPU Computers

Pete Segar, SVP Product Innovation & Chief Technical Officer @ Ergotron

There are lots of us “road warriors” who shuttle a laptop computer between work and home, yet also have a home CPU computer with flat panel monitor.  Great productivity gains can be had by hooking up the system so that the computer monitor can serve as a second display when using the laptop (see my separate blog entry describing my work computer setup which uses the laptop as a second display).

Here is a fantastic solution that is easily achievable:

  • Share a keyboard, mouse and monitor between the home CPU and work laptop
  • Switch back and forth from laptop to CPU instantly in one keystroke
  • View dual monitors when using the laptop computer
  • Position the flat panel display and laptop in convenient ergonomic positions
  • Reposition the laptop and flat panel monitor easily- adjust height or swivel

A very simple solution allows both the home CPU and the work laptop to share the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and even USB devices.  The solution uses  a “KVM Switch,” which can be purchased from any computer equipment retailer for less than $30 and be installed with ease. 

The KVM switch looks like a Y-cable with connections for the keyboard, mouse, monitor and possibly USB devices on one end, and two sets of corresponding connectors that go to each computer.  Pressing CTRL_SCROLL LOCK twice switches the display and peripherals from the laptop to the CPU and back.   This allows use of dual displays for the laptop computer.  I have not yet figured out if there is a way to use the laptop as a second display when using the CPU computer.

I purchased an inexpensive port replicator for the laptop on EBay, and mounted it on an Ergotron Neo-Flex Combo Stand.  The display is also mounted on the same stand.  This allows me to easily position both displays in an ergonomic and convenient position.  

 Figure 2) Press Ctrl-Scroll Lock twice, and the flat panel screen now shows my home CPU computer.  The keyboard and mouse also now operate my home computer.  The work laptop computer is still live, but now is in single monitor mode.

Figure 1) Home computer setup showing dual monitor system – my home computer display serves as the second monitor when using my work laptop.

Figure 1) Home computer setup showing dual monitor system- my home computer display serves as the second monitor when using my work laptop

 Figure 2) Press Ctrl-Scroll Lock twice, and the flat panel screen now shows my home CPU computer.  The keyboard and mouse also now operate my home computer.  The work laptop computer is still live, but now is in single monitor mode.

Figure 3) Rear view of the setup.  All the laptop wiring is attached to a port replicator, so my laptop can simply be snapped in and out of the dock.  The whole system is height adjustable and swivels side to side.

With a few inexpensive devices, it is easy to create a really innovative, flexible, space-saving, ergonomic workstation that integrates your home computing equipment with work computing equipment.  Here is my “bill of materials:”

  • KVM Switch ($20)
  • Neo-Flex Combo Stand  ($179)
  • Port Replicator  ($99 used)

I really encourage those of you who use work laptops and home computers to consider this solution.  The ergonomic and productivity benefits are well worth the few hundred dollars of investment.  Everything can be acquired from most major IT resellers.

Happy computing!!

World’s Greatest Sit to Stand Workstation

Pete Segar, SVP Product Innovation & Chief Technical Officer, Ergotron

OK- I may be overstating it just a little- but I really do think that my computer workstation is one of the best in the world.   My computer workstation combines sit/stand ergonomics with dual monitor productivity all for <$1000.  It is an amazingly simple and convenient workstation that is perfect for the laptop road warrior.  

My workstation uses an Ergotron Neo-Flex Mobile Workspace cart fitted with a Combo Dual Monitor bow.  This allows me to position my 20″ Dell monitor next to my open laptop screen for a very nice dual monitor workstation.   When I come in the morning, I dock my notebook to the Dell docking station that is permanently mounted to the laptop tray of the cart, and open up the screen.  Then it is perfectly positioned for dual monitor productivity.   I find this provides a huge improvement in my effectiveness and prevents errors.  In my job, I am afrequent spreadsheet user, and the ability to have an email open in 1 screen, a spreadsheet in the other, and the ability to enter data into a spreadsheet without opening and closing windows is much faster and I am much less likely to make an error.

Sitting at my dual monitor workstation

Standing at my dual monitor workstation

Inserting my notebook into the docking station.  You can see the laptop mounting platform.

The cart has a 20″ vertical lift so I can easily sit or stand at any time.  I find that it really helps prevent back and neck problems to frequently reposition myself.   Plus, research has shown that you burn calories much faster standing vs sitting. There are many sit/stand worsktations that are commercially available, but they tend to be very expensive ($1,500-4,000) and difficult to use.  Motorized lifts need power, and take roughly 20 seconds to raise from sitting to standing-that can be very irritating.  Cranks are slow and very inconvenient.  The “Constant Force” lift technology is a smooth counterbalance that makes the lift very easy, simply pull up, it moves in place immediately, then it stays where you leave it.  Very intuitive and convenient.   Because it is easy to move- you WILL move it!

Finally, because this cart has nice smooth casters, it is really easy to reposition in the room.  I frequently pull my workstation out away from my desk, and over to the table in my room so I can share my displays during meetings.  We show presentation, meeting notes, etc, and then push it back to the desk when it is not needed.  This is really great.

 My workstation rolled over to my table for a meeting

The standard Neo-Flex Mobile Workspace cart works with either a notebook computer or else a flat panel monitor with a CPU.  I have a prototype configuration that uses the combination monitor/notebook mount from our new Neo-Flex Combo Stand to mount the monitor and notebook side by side.  I am very interested in seeing how much support there is for this type of product- so please provide feedback to my blog if you would like to see this product become available. 

I am issuing a “Dare to Dual” to you: combine a flat panel display with your docked notebook screen to achieve a cost-effective, efficient ergonomic workstation that will change your life!