Price (RRP): $199
You may ask why you need an ATEN US3342 4-port USB-C Gen 2 sharing switch (with power passthrough).
As usual, the boffins at ATEN put their thinking caps on to see what else the ATEN US3342 4-port USB-C Gen 2 sharing switch could do. And as a bonus it can seamlessly share those four USB ports between two hosts – a USB-C equipped Mac or a PC or two of each.
But wait – there is more. You can use ATEN US3342 4-port USB-C Gen 2 sharing switch and a mouse to drag and drop files between the hosts at up to 10Gpbs.
What is ATEN?
Let’s just say that I have been using ATEN products for almost as long as it has been in business – since 1979. It is a Taiwan-based ‘connectivity’ company that specialises in KVM (Keyboard, video and mouse) switches so as my server farm grew so did my need to ATEN KVM switches – we would not use any other brand because none worked as well.
Over time ATEN developed software to supplement physical switches. Today it makes control systems for AV, Energy intelligence power distribution units, all sorts of USB converters, cables and switches. The chances are that if a mac/PC host needs to connect to multiple monitors or devices ATEN is the answer.
You can view the ATEN IFA 2019 catalogue here for inspiration.
ATEN US3342 4-port USB-C Gen 2 sharing switch
Australian Website here
On the backside of the ATEN US3342 4-port USB-C Gen 2 sharing switch – let’s call that the ‘input’ side there are two USB-C ports marked ‘host’. Connect two hosts via the 1m USB-C cables supplied – this also provides 5V/2 or 3A downstream power to the ATEN, and it’s four sharing ports.
A third USB-C port is for USB-C PD 3.0 for up to 85W (5V, 9V, 15V, and 20V) upstream power passthrough to one host (needs a third-party power pack to do this).
You can use any version of USB-C or even Thunderbolt 3 host. But the maximum data transfer rate will be the lower of USB-C host version rate.
On the front side – let’s call that the output side – you have three USB-A and one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports. The four output ports share 5V/2A 10W which is provided by the host. The ports dynamically share that 10Gbps.
BTW: USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 means the port is capable of 10Gbps full-duplex data transfer over ‘special’ USB-C cables up to 1m long. ATEN supplies two of these for the hosts. Thunderbolt 3 uses special USB-C cables under .5m to achieve up to 40Gbps.
Plugin the remote-control press button to the 2.5mm jack to enable USB port selection.
Just how do two computers share four devices?
A piece of magic software BEZEL X for Mac or PC (or two of each). This is auto-sensing software that tells the ATEN switch to switch from one host to the other.
But the software is embryonic at V1.0.001. While it works well for peripheral sharing, it needs a few rough edges knocked off for drag and drop sharing. You can trust ATEN to keep it up to date for future versions of Windows 10 and macOS. Now if they would only do that for iPads with USB-C.
Install the software (caution Windows may try to block it, but you can over-ride that).
When two hosts are connected, it sets up a screen share and USB-C peer-to-peer network to allow drag and drop files, mouse and keyboard sharing.
The remote button is the only enigma. It selects the outport port because the switch is a switch – not a hub.
Who is the ATEN US3342 4-port USB-C Gen 2 sharing switch for?
OK, it has a specific market – anyone that has two host devices and wants to share peripherals.
For example, at my office, a few people have a Windows 10 laptop and a MacBook because they need to access different software. Data transfer is via a ‘sneaker-net’ (it does not interfere with any LAN). This breaks down the barrier, and they can plug in a shared external drive, mouse, keyboard, scanner, printer etc.
But I see a great need for programmers, developers, system administrators, PC repair technicians, and content creators to enhance the efficiency of dual-system operations.
$220 but suppliers like Mwave have it for $199 plus freight
Warranty: 2 years