What Is a USB Switch?


As much as the variety of modern connected devices have made everyone more efficient workers, switching between multiple devices can still be a headache. They all have different native input mechanisms, and if you have a favorite connected peripheral or two, using them on each device can be frustrating. The best way to solve that issue is with a USB 3.0 switch.

There are a number of wireless keyboards and mice that offer 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth connections for supporting two devices at once, but those do come with disadvantages. A USB switch box goes far further. The best USB switches can support up to four distinct devices and four connected USB peripherals at the same time. That lets you stay connected to multiple computers or devices simultaneously, making it easier than ever to jump between them, no matter what you're doing.

What Is a USB Switch?

A USB 3.0 switch is similar to a docking station. It's a small hub that features a number of USB ports for connecting different devices to. The Cable Matters USB 3.0 Switch Hub has four USB-A ports, but it comes with a USB-C adapter – more USB-C connections can be purchased as well. There are also four USB Micro-B connections for connecting up to four different devices.

Buttons on the top allow you to select which device you're connected to at any one time, and all connected USB devices will interact with that system when it's selected. The Cable Matters model has the advantage of a bundled remote control for wireless switching. Using the USB switch selector shifts all of those connected peripherals to that device instead.

A USB switch can act like a keyboard, mouse switcher by letting you remain at the exact same connected peripherals but move directly to another device, seamlessly. The USB 3.0 connection guarantees 5Gbps of bandwidth, which is more than enough for most peripherals, unless you're doing enormous file transfers.

Some USB hubs, like the Cable Matters USB Switch, are powered by the USB connection, but there is an optional external power plug for heavy-duty USB peripherals like hard drives. The Cable Matters model also includes an on/off switch for power cycling.


USB 3 Sharing Switch

Cable Matters USB 3.0 Sharing Switch

Work and Play Mix – The Benefits of USB Switches

One of the best ways to enjoy the benefits of a USB Switch is when using a home office with two different PCs or devices – one for work and the other for play or home use. With the rise of work from home, flexible work space is in high demand. Typically, this would demand one of two things: either you have a pair of peripherals which you use independently for both systems, or you have to repeatedly unplug and replug your preferred peripherals into whichever device you're using.

With a USB switch, none of that is necessary. You can use one set of peripherals on both systems. With the Cable Matters four port USB Switch, you can connect a tablet, or laptop too. That's great for using larger peripherals like mechanical keyboards and gaming mice on smaller devices – especially modern tablets and laptops which tend to have a very limited number of ports to make them more streamlined.

You can also connect a larger array of USB office devices, like scanners and printers to a USB switch box, so that they don't need to be quite so physically present with your main system(s). You could print something on your printer, switch to a different device and do it again with the simple press of a button on the remote.

With four USB ports you can connect up to four USB devices to a range of systems from a single central location. That cuts back on cable clutter for a better-looking workspace, and it opens up a range of options for device placement, making it easier to improve office efficiency.

Streamers Should Use USB Switches

USB switch selectors aren't just good for moving between work and play, they can be instrumental in making the work and play experience that bit better. Game streamers are one group who could massively benefit from using a USB switch.

Streaming is the tale of two jobs: entertaining and producing. It's playing games and talking to your audience while transcoding and editing. Whether it's live or recorded and produced later. To that end, many streamers employ additional systems, like tablets or laptops, to handle their fan chat. Being able to use the same keyboard and mouse to look through that at the click of a button is far more convenient than having additional peripherals setup in their own space just for that function.

Additionally, many streamers employ a secondary PC for transcoding their gameplay and recorded webcam footage. That would typically demand its own set of peripherals, but not so with a USB switch hub. Change your monitor video source at the same time and you can easily run two PCs simultaneously off of the same set of peripherals, massively streamlining the streaming and editing process.

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