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9th July 2007
Pantone huey Pro monitor calibrator reviewed
by Ian Burley
4042: Pantone huey Pro monitor calibrator reviewed

It now boasts a 'Pro' badge, but is Pantone's huey Pro significantly improved over the original huey?

Product type: Display monitor calibrator
Price: UKŁ88, EUŁ129, US$89 (European buyers – order one direct from Colour Confidence)
Compatibility: Mac OSX 10.3.9 and higher, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista

We reviewed the original Pantone huey monitor calibrator back at the start of 2006. We liked it for its unusual compact design, low cost, and ease of use that we hoped and expected would encourage more people to calibrate their monitors for the first time. But the original huey did have some areas that we thought could benefit from improvement. Has Pantone's new 'Pro' huey addressed these issues? Let's find out.

Hardware design practically unchanged

According to Pantone, the original huey hardware, co-developed with Gretag Macbeth, is largely unchanged. The front of the main unit has a white background instead of grey, but that's about it. I didn't like the original unit's very thin USB cable and it's still there. The clever detachable stand, that can tilt the unit on your desk, remains but it's still quite cheaply constructed and isn't as stable as I'd like. These things are more excusable in the basic huey, which has been reduced in price since its launch, but the new 'Pro' version is nearly 50% dearer, so criticism needs to be a bit tougher here.

Enhanced software, kind of

The main claim to the new huey's 'Pro' label is its ability to allow the user to choose the target colour temperature and gamma. The original huey only offers preset gamma and white point. You can now select these independently in the huey Pro software. There is also a greater choice of calibration update reminder intervals.

These improvements are undoubtedly welcome, but the question most potential customers will be asking is: with a cost of almost half as much again, is the Pro worth it over the standard model? For some, it may well be, but if you have specialist gamma and white point requirements, you will probably be considering alternatives with more features, though undoubtedly more expensive than it.

For example, the huey Pro software doesn't add the facility to fine tune monitor colour by adjusting the colour levels separately. This is a feature only found in some up-market monitors, but the lack of support contradicts the huey 'Pro' tag.

26 colour variations are sampled by the calibration process with the standard huey software, but only an additional three are used in the Pro version. This retains the fast calibration speed of the original huey – at about one minute – but more advanced calibration systems use many more colour variations to build a more accurate colour profile.

Meanwhile, the characteristic huey ambient light sensor and real time monitor brightness sensor system remains, but feedback from most 'serious' users is that this is a feature they would be unlikely to use. You should, really, try your best to ensure that the ambient light around your monitor is as stable as possible.

In use

There is no doubt that the huey Pro, like its cheaper sibling, is fast and easy to use. It generated good profiles for both CRT and LCD monitors we tested it with. There was only one exception and this was a tablet PC. We're not sure if this is a driver issue – Pantone warns that some laptops using an ATI Radeon chipset require an updated driver, but the tablet PC we tried (a HP Pavilion TX1030ea) actually uses an nVidia chip set.

Conclusion

Clearly, a huey Pro will help you to make a big stride towards a properly colour managed system. But if you are willing to spend more money, and work harder with the greater sophistication of such systems, you will get better results. But more telling is that unless you really need to use unusual white point and gamma settings, there is no great difference in the performance of the cheaper original huey and the Pro version. And to round things off, one has to ask why the US market gets a near 50% discount compared to European pricing.

Ratings

Category DPNow rated Stars Percentage
Performance adequate 3.5 stars 70%
Features adequate 3.5 stars 65%
Build quality adequate 3.5 stars 75%
Ease of use Excellent 4.5 stars 90%
Value for money adequate 3.5 stars 75%
Overall adequate 3.5 stars 70%

DPNow rating system explained..

What we liked:

Compact
Stylish
Easy to use

What we didn't like:

Only a slight improvement over the original huey
Poor value compared to the original huey

Verdict:

The 'Pro' tag is barely justified and while the huey Pro is not a bad product, if you are going to buy a calibrator of this type, you would be better off getting the original huey.

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