Review: The Aten Technology KE8220

Aten Technology's new KE8220 Virtual VNC Console aims to eliminate these issues and help the presentation go smoothly. The Test Center recently evaluated the KE8220 and found potential for it in the market.

At 3.2 inches by 7.8 inches by 1 inch and weighing a just over one pound, the $349.95 (MSRP) KE8220 is small and light enough to fit into most notebook cases for easy portability. Connections on the back consist of a D-Sub 15 VGA port, two USB ports (for mouse and keyboard), an additional, recessed, USB port for the included Wireless-B/G adapter, an RJ-45 Ethernet jack and the AC adapter jack.

Although there are other functions for the device, its main purpose is as a Wireless Presentation System. Utilizing the included AltusenVNC software, the appliance allows users across a network to connect to a projector (or any other display) without physically connecting additional cables to the projector.

To configure the KE8220, reviewers first had to connect the Wireless adapter, USB keyboard and USB mouse to the appropriate ports and run a VGA cable to the projector. After logging into the unit, we were able to configure the necessary network settings for the device to connect to our wireless router and obtain an IP address via DHCP. We also configured the console with the proper settings for our wired network.

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With configuration out of the way, the only thing left was to install the AltusenVNC software on our computers. The software can be installed by way of the included CD or directly from the KE8220. To accomplish the latter, all that is necessary is to point a web browser to the KE8220's IP address (which the projector displays) and download the install file.

The program can be installed either as an application or a service. After installation, the user can either enter the IP address of the console or let the software do a quick scan of the network and list all available units. At this point, a simple click of the Connect button is all that is necessary to start pushing video from the computer to the projector.

Once a computer has the AltusenVNC software installed, the console can also be used to connect and control it remotely. This feature can be useful when a presenter needs to access numerous computers from various places on the network. Additionally, the software is ideal for schools, help desk departments, and IT operations to troubleshoot problems (management of up to 256 computers is possible).

Our tests showed some quirky behavior when trying to connect to the wireless network. When reviewers took a laptop with two IP addresses " one wired and one wireless " we were not able to connect to the device via ether. We had to disconnect one of the network connections in order for it to work.

Although all the features of the KE8220 worked as they should, it was extremely noticeable that there was a very long delay between the computer and the display when connected via WiFi. The lag time was long enough that a presenter would be off-sync with what they expected would be on the screen.

On a wired network, the KE8220 performed much closer to expectations. While there was still a small bit of lag time, it was negligible and did not impede the timing of a presentation.

If connection to a LAN is possible or if it going to be used for demonstrations where timing isn't crucial, the KE8220 does fill some needs that many board-room or road warriors may have, but those that intend to use the wireless functionality should take note of the timing issues.

The bottom line: this device shows a lot of thought on the engineering side, but it doesn't necessarily translate into the product. We look forward to seeing the next-generation.