Based on familiar Spyder hardware, the Pantone ColorVision ColorPlus package is the cheapest electronic monitor calibrator availablePrice:
UK£89.95, US$104.99, EU€119
Why calibrate your monitor?
|As far as I'm aware, the Pantone ColorVision ColorPlus monitor calibrator is the cheapest electronic monitor calibrator you can buy. Based on the tried and tested Mark 1 Spyder colorimeter, this entry-level solution is bundled with ColorPlus software as well as a copy of Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0 Starter Edition. The ColorPlus package is for Windows users only.
Display monitors are not guaranteed to display colour, contrast and brightness correctly out of the box. What’s more, as your monitor ages, so does its image quality. Display quality from a conventional CRT monitor changes over time more rapidly than an LCD monitor as the electron guns and screen phosphors wear out, but even LCD monitors, which are illuminated by fluorescent lamps, exhibit colour balance shifts over time.
Obvious evidence that your monitor is not calibrated properly can be noticed when the colour of documents and photos you're printing no longer matches what you see on the screen. It's possible that the printer might not be calibrated properly, but as long as you are using the correct paper for the printer driver setting as well as the correct inks, there is less likelihood of the printer being at fault. Using a monitor calibrator regularly – every couple of weeks – can maintain a consistently accurate display quality.
You can actually calibrate your monitor using a free utility supplied with all Windows PCs these days. It's called Adobe Gamma (below) and you can find it in the Windows Control Panel.
The problem with Adobe Gamma is that it relies completely on the user to make adjustments in response to visual prompts. It's better than nothing and if you aren't going to invest in an electronic calibrator you should definitely use Adobe Gamma, but even an entry-level hardware package like ColorPlus will provide better consistency and accuracy – as well as convenience.
It's all in the software
The three-legged Spyder calibrator has been around for about four years in various slightly modified forms. The ColorVision Spyder 2
was recently launched but the Mark 1 Spyder will continue as a lower-cost option in packages like ColorPlus for the foreseeable future, according to UK distributor, Colour Confidence. What differentiates the different packages based on the same Spyder hardware is the software.
With ColorPlus, you get… ColorPlus software. At the time of writing, the Mark 1 Spyder hardware is also available with more sophisticated PhotoCAL software in the form of the standard ColorVision Spyder and as SpyderPro with even more powerful OptiCAL software.
When choosing your Spyder package you need to be careful as the software supplied is uniquely tied to the Spyder in the box. There is no option to upgrade to more powerful software versions without buying another Spyder.
We'll examine the ColorPlus software on page 2
of this review.
As for the hardware, the Spyder device attaches to a glass CRT monitor using three suction cups and to a PC using a USB lead.
With over 2.2m to play with (around 7 feet) there should be ample USB cable to reach from a desktop monitor to the back of a floor-standing PC if required.
Unlike earlier versions of the Spyder, the ColorPlus Spyder and all current versions are compatible with LCD monitors. You must not use the suction cups as these could damage the flexible surface of an LCD monitor when you come to remove it.
Instead, there is a second cable that can be attached to the Spyder with an adjustable bezel locator (above) and, at the end, a weight (below).
The weight is designed to permit the Spyder to hang in front of the screen, preferably tilted back slightly, without being attached to it.
For use with LCD screens, a rubber baffle (above left) needs to be swapped for a triangular plastic attachment (above right) with a small filter inside.
Above is a Spyder mounted on a 17" LCD screen
The cabled weight can be removed if it is not required.
Overall, the Mark 1 Spyder hardware is simple enough and the counterweight for LCD screens works well.
On page 2
we take a look at the ColorPlus software.
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