If you’ve been put off buying a colorimeter for calibrating your monitor because devices cost too much, Pantone’s huey could change your mind. The kit consists of the measurement device itself (which is roughly 100 mm long and about as thick as a marker pen), a desktop cradle, USB extension cable, a pack of two Klear Screen monitor wipes and a 100 x 100 mm ‘Micro-Chamois’ cloth. A software disk and Quick Start guide are included and it’s all packaged in a handsome double box. . . [more]
If you’ve been put off buying a colorimeter for calibrating your monitor because devices cost too much, Pantone’s huey could change your mind. The kit consists of the measurement device itself (which is roughly 100 mm long and about as thick as a marker pen), a desktop cradle, USB extension cable, a pack of two Klear Screen monitor wipes and a 100 x 100 mm ‘Micro-Chamois’ cloth. A software disk and Quick Start guide are included and it’s all packaged in a handsome double box.
As you can see from the extremely sparse specifications list, Pantone provides no information on the colorimeter’s measurement technology or its spectral and measurement ranges. We couldn’t even discover whether the USB cable was High-Speed or 1.1. The multi-lingual Quick Start guide is difficult to read and provides only the most basic information about how to set up the device. Its main contribution is to inform you to let the monitor warm up for 30 minutes before calibrating it and suggest you get the best results through calibrating in a darkened room. However, it gives no idea of how dark the room should be.
There’s no information about colour management nor about the gamma and colour temperature values the device is using ““ or the profiles themselves when they are established. In fact, there’s no real explanation of anything beyond the step-by-step directions the software provides during the calibration process. If you had no idea what the huey does when you installed it, you’d be just as ignorant afterwards. This is frustrating for anyone with a modicum of knowledge about colour management and does nothing to educate novices who want to learn.
Fortunately, setting up the system is simple once you’ve loaded the software (which takes roughly a minute), dusted off the screen with the ‘Micro-Chamois’ cloth and cleaned it with a wipe (which also helps the huey to stick on). Opening the program takes you step by step through the calibration process. This starts with measuring the ambient lighting. The huey sensor is plugged into the computer’s USB port then placed in its cradle in front of the monitor. Clicking next activates room light measurement and you can track progress via the LEDs.
The huey colorimeter is positioned in front of the screen to measure room light levels.
You are then prompted to attach the colorimeter to your screen. When we tried this with a notebook PC, it didn’t attach too well and we had to tilt the display back to keep it in place. We were reluctant to attach it to our expensive desktop LDC but found tilting the screen back kept the device in place long enough for calibration ““ although we had to spend roughly 10 minutes untwisting the USB cable so the device would sit flat on the screen. The suction cups worked just fine with a CRT screen.
The huey colorimeter in place on a notebook PC monitor.
Hitting Next starts the calibration process. The screen turns black and a white oval appears beneath the colorimeter, along with a progress screen on the left side. Green dots light up on this screen as the calibration process runs through the different colour patches.
The huey calibration screen. Note the progress display on the left side.
Within less than five minutes the oval huey interface reappears with the ‘Calibration Successful!’ message and you are instructed to return the sensor to its cradle.
Touching the Next button displays a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker pattern plus a picture of a model. Two buttons below this illustration let you toggle between the corrected and uncorrected modes.
The above display shows monitor colours after calibration with the huey device.
The above display shows the colours before calibration.
The next screen lets you select the calibration setting that best matches your main usage of the monitor. Selecting ‘Web Browsing & Photo Editing’ is the best option for most photographic tasks.
Colour setting options.
The final screen allows you to set the software to update your calibration when the room lighting changes. This requires you to keep the device in its cradle and connected to the computer, which you may not want to do if you don’t have a spare USB port. The software is supposed to provide reminders for recalibration but nothing was displayed when we tried it out on both our notebook and desktop PCs.
The final screen.
Unfortunately, although you end up with a calibrated monitor, you’re not told what it’s calibrated to ““ nor where the profile is stored. When we went looking for the profile (Windows users can view it by right-clicking on the desktop then selecting Properties>Settings>Advanced>Colour Management) we found the profile was named hueyCG19 30863026.
The ‘CG19’ section refers to the monitor but we’ve no idea what the remaining numbers mean. Our regular calibration device, the GretagMacbeth EyeOne Display 2, always includes the date of the calibration in the profile name (as yuo can see in the earlier profiles in the list above), making it easy to identify the most recent profiles and track previous profiles. This is certainly the system we would prefer.
Pantone’s huey is very easy to set up and simple and quick to use. It is arguably the cheapest, simplest, fastest and most accessible monitor calibration device on the market. The profiles we obtained worked satisfactorily with our printers and we found no conflicts with our editing software. (Interestingly, the EyeOne Display 2 didn’t recognise the huey profile and continued to provide reminders when a new profile was due.)
We were happy with the monitor colours produced by the huey calibration, although the corrected mode was slightly warmer than the uncorrected original, as shown in the illustrations below. The room lighting adjustments were also reasonably effective ““ although we found you had to be careful not to let anything cover the sensor, which was very easy to knock over on a busy desk.
Although serious photographers will probably be frustrated by the over-automation of the calibration process and the lack of meaningful controls, Pantone’s huey should suit photo hobbyists who are just starting to need colour management. However, we have a few reservations about the product, even for this target market because the only help provided is perfunctory and there’s no information about colour management and monitor calibration is disappointing. A great opportunity to educate novice users has been missed.
Pantone recently announced a more sophisticated version of the huey, the hueyPRO, which is due for release in Australia very soon. Priced at around $229, it features “Professional-grade Optical Sensors” and is targeted at photo enthusiasts. According to press releases, the hueyPRO, supports multiple monitor calibration and offers user-defined whitepoint and gamma settings plus an ‘Advanced’ help function, which should be more informative. A wider choice of intervals for re-calibration reminders is also provided.
We hope to be able to review the hueyPRO soon.
For professional photographers and enthusiasts who require higher levels of control over the calibration process, the Pantone (aka GretagMacbeth) EyeOne Display 2 and Spyder2 Pro, which is part of the ColorVision PrintFIX Pro Suite will provide even higher levels of control and sophistication.
Device type: colorimeter
System requirements: Mac OS X (10.3 or higher), Windows 2000 or XP
Compatible displays: LCD, CRT, laptop (not suitable for multi-monitor systems)
Dimensions (L x W x H): approx. 100 x 15 x 10mm
Weight: approx. 20 g (colorimeter only)
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