|At a Glance|
|Product||IOGEAR PCPortal (GCN1000)|
|Summary||Network Enabled IP KVM|
|Pros||• BIOS level access over an IP network
• Virtual Media file sharing
• Web based client software
|Cons||• Mouse lag
• Incomplete Port forwarding documentation
• Not cascadeable
In this review, I'm going to take a look at the IOGEAR GCN1000 PCPortal—a device designed to leverage the power of networking to enable access to a workstation or server PC from anywhere in the world. The PCPortal is a network-enabled IP KVM device, which provides keyboard, mouse, and monitor connection to a remote network-connected computer.
Certainly, there are software solutions that allow for remote access to a workstation or server PC, such as GotoMyPC, pcAnywhere, or Windows Remote Desktop Connection, which is included with Windows XP Pro and Vista Business. For Linux, VNC and SSH are common means of remotely accessing a system over a network. The value added by the GCN1000 includes operating system, file and application-level access, as well as BIOS level access over a network connection from anywhere in the world.
There are other network enabled KVMs, also referred to as IP KVMs, such as the Lantronix Spider (reviewed). Both devices allow for full remote control of a computer, albeit with different target markets. The Lantronix is targeted more at the server market, while the IOGEAR seems positioned more toward desktop/workstation PCs, although both can be used for either.
I've used IOGEAR's PCPortal for the past few weeks while on a couple of business trips, and I have had the opportunity to test it from various remote locations. I installed the PCPortal in my home network and connected it to an XP Pro desktop PC, which I'll refer to as my "target" computer/PC throughout this review.
The GCN1000 PCPortal is a simple device, measuring nearly 7" wide by 3.25" deep and 1.2" high. Physically, its construction feels solid and looks to be well made, with the device weighing nearly 3 pounds. Overall, it is a pretty clean looking metal structure giving a sense of quality, with status LEDs as well as a network port on the front of the device shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Front view of GCN1000 with diagram
Installing the device is a matter of plugging it in to power and your network, as well as to your target computer. There are three computer connection cables included with the GCN, in addition to an external power brick and network cable. All three cables connect to the back of the device, displayed in Figure 2.