VNC-like keyboard/mouse connection without video?

I have a media box that’s hooked up to my TV. I’ve been using VNC to control it from my laptop while sitting on the couch, but that’s not ideal for a few reasons, mostly that my media box is kinda old and slow, and VNC pretty much chokes when you’ve got full-screen high motion video running. It doesn’t update on my laptop and the server runs slower because it’s trying to do too much.

I realized that what I really need is an app that will forward my keyboard/mouse data to the media box, but not bother sending video over the network. I can just look at the image on the TV.

Is there anything like that? I’m running Windows XP on the media PC and my laptop is a Macbook.

Are you using VNC or Windows Remote Desktop?

VNC for me doesn’t pass the full-motion video, and my understanding is because the video is running directly on the hardware frame buffer. I could run it in software mode and get it over VNC, but then would have the problems you’re describing.

If you’re running a real VNC, you can drop the color depth. That will dramatically reduce the bandwidth.

I think Synergy is what you’re looking for.

Sweet! Synergy looks like exactly what I want. Hopefully the Beta-ish Mac client will work.

I am using VNC right now (as mentioned in the OP). Not sure why the video shows up, but it does (at about 1 frame per 10 seconds). Could it be because my video card doesn’t have hardware support for the codecs in question?

If Synergy doesn’t work for me, I’ll try dropping the color depth, but I bet I’ll still have a lag with video. There’s just too much data to send over a little wireless connection, even if it were black and white only.

I didn’t mean to accuse you of not knowing what you were doing. A lot of people do think that Windows Remote Desktop is VNC.

I’m glad Kal mentioned Synergy; I could have some use for that.

As you already know, it’s the video that’s killing your connection speed. VNC tries to compress the remote screen and keep everything in sync, but it’s just overwhelming your bandwidth and/or the hardware on your remote client.

It seems odd that video would be streamed at all. For most video applications, the video is decoded directly into the video card’s output stream. It’s often impossible to even take screen shots. On my Linux box, I can change between using the frame buffer or having all of the work done in software. If I use software, CPU usage shoots through the roof, especially for higher-than-normal resolution video files. On the other hand, I do get to see snippets of video via VNC, even though I don’t want to. With all of the hardware rendering, I only get a black box over the VNC.

I guess I’m saying, try to look at the settings for whichever video program you’re using.

I totally understand. Sorry about the snark; I know you were just trying to be helpful.

It’s happened with both VLC and Windows Media Player, for whatever that’s worth. Maybe there’s some video card setting I need to change.

I don’t think VLC uses hardware acceleration – maybe you can check its settings. Windows Media Player should use acceleration. Check its settings as well, including the overlay settings (you should have it set to use overlays).

Finally, check your display options advanced preferences, and ensure that you have hardware acceleration as high as it can go for your computer (you may have backed it down due to driver problems).

Once the video is running “native” (not in an overlay), VNC will happily try to put it over the connection for you. Since this isn’t what you want, enabling the overlays and/or hardware acceleration may fix it for you. You know, if Synergy doesn’t work out for you.

So far, Synergy is working like a dream, except that I have no way to right-click. I’m pretty sure there’s a way to remap the right click button on my Windows box to work with a key+click, but so far my google-fu is failing me.

Because Synergy won’t transmit the right mouse button, or because you only have a one-button mouse? If the latter, maybe this (warning: geocities site) could help?

If I read the earlier posts correctly, it’s because Mac mice only have 1 button.

Synergy communicates right clicks just fine. I quit using it all the time because it wouldn’t let my main monitor ever go to sleep, but aside from that, it really is the cat’s pajamas.

Switching mouse and keyboard from one computer to another is extremely easy to do with some very basic hardware. You just need a little box with a switch and only need to switch two lines (mouse data & keyboard data). If you are interested I can give you more details.

It’s because I have only one mouse button. It’s a Macbook with a little touch-pad and a single button. I have a two-button mouse, but hooking up a mouse to a laptop to control a TV from while sitting on a couch would be unwieldy.

For the same reason, sailor, a KVM switch is not a good solution for this. I’d have to string USB cables all over my living room.

The program Balthisar linked is the kind of thing I need, but it looks like it’s not configurable, and I want my control key to stay a control key. Control is useful for lots of things like keyboard shortcuts and selecting non-sequential objects in a list. I want to be able to map right-click to one of the buttons I never use, like the Right-Cmd key, or F13 or something. I found AutoHotkey, which looks like it’ll do what I want, but I haven’t tested it out yet.

I’m also going to test out SideTrack, which is a different driver for the touchpad. Maybe that’ll let me use the trackpad to contextual-click, although I have to see how cumbersome it is for normal use.

For those playing along at home (and, I suppose, future people who have this exact problem), it turns out that the built-in Mac trackpad driver has an option in the System Preferences panel that will enable a two-fingered click as a context-click, so I’m all good to go.

Now to figure out why my damned 1080p TV won’t accept a DVI->HDMI converted output higher than about 600x1100, but that’s a whole other issue.