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The Spider isn't the first single-port IP KVM, but it is the first with a compact form-factor and "distributed KVM" approach. Other single server IP based KVMs, such as DLink’s KVM-410 (priced at $621.28–758.99 online) require a management application loaded on the PC for interaction with the KVM. Kudos to Lantronix for making their product software completely web-based. It is certainly a plus for administrators to not have to load and master another application.

To get IP connectivity to a small Belkin KVM requires an add-on module (Omniview, $749.99), taking up more space and adding another element to the server room. The Lantronix Spider is a small, handheld-size device with a minimal footprint.

Power is both a pro and con for the Spider. The fact that it is powered by the target server is great for cable and AC power management, but could be an issue when deploying multiple daisy-chained Spiders. If a server up the chain dies, all LAN connectivity downstream from the Spider’s Cascade port is down. However, Lantronix sells a separate power supply, which would be a smart purchase for cascaded Spiders. You also can skip the Cascade port and connect each Spider to its own switch port.

The main functional negative for the Spider is its lag, which will be an issue if you plan on using the Spider as your sole source of direct server access. You’re better off having a direct software-based (Remote Desktop, VNC, etc.) connection to your server in addition to the Spider access.

The other potential negative is its price. While $495 is very competitive for a single IP KVM port, if you need a lot of ports, the cost can quickly outpace multi-port alternatives. But that's where Lantronix is counting on the Spider's other advantages—no single point of failure, cabling flexibility and non-blocking user access—to win the day.

If you've been thinking of experimenting with KVM over IP as a remote management tool, the Lantronix Spider provides an easy and inexpensive way to dip your toe into that water. And if you're unhappy with your current IP KVM solutions, you really should give the Spider a look.

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