The GCN presents several management options for controlling access and enabling multiple users. Access to the device can be limited by specific IP addresses, but not subnet, and by individual MAC address. Further, multiple usernames and passwords can be created, with each user having access to any combination of the GCN's configuration utility, the Windows Client, the Java Applet, Virtual Media, Logs, or View Only rights as displayed in Figure 14. There is also a Message Board feature, where users can message each other if they are simultaneously logged into the same target PC.
Figure 14: User management options
Pricing and Conclusion
Although IOGEAR lists the PCPortal at $499.95, PriceGrabber currently shows a lowest online price of around $349. This is comparable in price to another IP KVM we looked at last year, the Lantronix Spider IP KVM, which PriceGrabber currently shows at $361. I've put together a comparison of the two devices in Table 1, below.
|Power||Software||Configuration Options||File Transfer||Price|
|IOGEAR PCPortal||External Wall Wart||Browser-based||Simple||"Virtual USB"||$349|
|Lantronix Spider||Target PC USB port||Browser-based||More Extensive||"Virtual CD"||$361|
Table 1: Comparison of the IOGEAR PCPortal and the Lantronix Spider
Both of these IP KVMs offer the ability to access a target computer over an IP network. Interestingly, both have issues with mouse lag, which I found difficult to deal with. By comparison, I found Windows Remote Desktop to be more responsive and with less lag over the same network connections and to the same target machine than either IP KVM.
For the price, I'd like to see greater functionality in an IP KVM, such as the ability to power on and off my target PC remotely via the IP KVM, perhaps through providing some form of Wake On LAN functionality. Since remote access is a primary driver for an IP KVM, IOGEAR might want to consider bundling it with a gateway router, minimizing the dependency on the customer resolving the port forwarding complexity. Dynamic DNS functionality could also be integrated into the GCN, reducing dependency on external devices for core functionality.
Compared to software solutions for remote access to a PC, the IOGEAR PCPortal's main value is the BIOS level access and file transfer capability. Personally I like the idea of an IP KVM and the ability to access all aspects of my PC including the BIOS from anywhere in the world. When I need to reboot my target PC or examine BIOS settings from a remote location, the PCPortal is a nice solution.
In summary, if you're looking for remote access to a computer and don't need BIOS and reboot access, there are less expensive software based options. If you're running a critical machine with the requirement of full remote access including BIOS and reboot control, IOGEAR's PCPortal is a simple and useful solution.