Review Pantone Huey PRO
Pantone Huey PRO
A Review of the Pantone Huey PRO monitor calibration system
The Huey PRO from Pantone offers a much richer feature set (such as multiple display support) than the original huey we reviewed here some time ago.
Keith has been looking at some of these features and some of the notable improvements that Pantone have added to such areas as usability and documentation.
Whilst there is a full description here, of just how you use the device to profile and calibrate your monitors, you might like to study the original huey review as well.
This review looks at the Mac version of the Pantone Huey PRO.
The Windows version works just the same (manufacturers info)
January 2012 – The huey hardware has not been updated for several years – do bear this in mind if you are using a modern LED backlit screen. Whilst the Huey Pro will still work, I’d really suggest you also look at newer products sucha s the Spyder4Express or ColorMunki Display if you are using a better quality screen. More reviews
Aug ’07 There is a downloadable PDF user guide that covers the huey and hueyPRO – essential reading if you just have the original huey.
How do you know that a particular colour red on your monitor is correct?
If you send me a picture, then how do I know I’m seeing what you did?
If you are completely new to colour management you might also want to look at the very short ‘What is Colour Management’ article I’ve written.
There is really only one place to start with Colour Management – your monitor.
If it doesn’t display accurate colour, it’s difficult to get your prints right and even less likely someone else will.
“Will the huey make my monitor match my prints?” I’ve been asked this several times and have written a short article on how it can help, but why you need to consider some other factors as well.
Monitor calibrators work by displaying different coloured patches on the screen and then measuring them.
The quality of the profile depends a lot on the software analysing the measurements and the accuracy of the device making them.
It’s a fairly simple process that you repeat every so often (weeks- months) as your display ages. I do my Apple 23″ LCD monitor every few weeks.
Before calibrating your monitor on Windows PC systems, you should check to see that Adobe gamma is turned off if it was installed. We’ve got a short guide to removing Adobe Gamma that might be of help.
Mind you, if my monitor looked anything liked the ‘before’ option above, I think it would have been long overdue for scrap ;-)
The measuring device comes with a base, USB cable extender, some screen wipes, and in the version I looked at, a Pantone colour swatch pack
The pack also contains software and a quick start guide.
In what I took to be a promising sign, the quick guide was a lot better written and more comprehensive than the original huey. It even mentions that the base of the stand can be used to hold the cable – this wasn’t mentioned at all in the original.
The sensor looks the same as the original, with three holes to let light from your monitor onto the measurement cells
This view shows the filters over each sensor that allow the huey PRO to provide measurements as a colorimeter.
My hand gives you an idea of the size of the device. You can also see the small suckers that Pantone suggest you use for attaching the device to the screen.
In my original review I said that I’d never consider attaching the device to an LCD screen… well I stand by that.
The suction cups may be fine for CRTs, but they are not going on -my- LCD screen — fortunately this doesn’t really hinder the actual use of the device
The huey PRO is now sold under Pantone/X-rite branding rather than the old GretagMacbeth name
The Huey PRO in its stand – there is a sensor in the middle just for ambient light measurement
Installing the monitor colour correction software on my Mac simply required dragging the application from the CD to my Utilities folder (this is where I put such things…)
Compared to the original huey, there is an important extra file.
…A proper user guide
The Quick Start guide is just a PDF of the printed leaflet, however the user guide is a 45 page manual that explains how to use the device.
It also provides background information on colour management and some suggestions on how to get better prints using printer profiles.
The start-up screen.
The software still uses the same oval design for its main display.
The tab at the right hand side can be collapsed inwards if you just want to follow the basic instructions.
After selecting a display you get a chance to set your display’s basic settings.
Setting the black point is an important aspect of getting good monitor settings.
You make the adjustments visually here – there is no measurement involved at this stage with the huey PRO.
The side tab tells you what to do and allows you to launch the web based version of the User Guide
A screen grab from the browser based help
After setting the monitor to appropriate brightness/contrast settings the software measures the general level of lighting in your room
The huey PRO has a feature that can vary your monitor settings as the room light varies – I’ll cover more of this later.
Next it’s time to place the sensor over the screen.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m not sticking things to my LCD screen, so I just tilted the monitor back and let gravity hold the screen in place. In the original review I did decide to give the suckers a go – the device fell off just as I was taking a photo. Not a second time thanks :-)
Here it is against my Apple 23″ display. You need to make sure it is completely flat against the screen – the thin cable and lightweight sensor fights this to some extent…
Since the sensor is rather small, I’d suggest doing your calibration in low light levels, so as to avoid any light getting to the sensors.
The huey PRO software measures 29 different coloured patches on the display.
This is up from the 26 that the huey uses.
Measuring the screen
You can check the difference between before and after with a test image.
In the huey PRO software you can name your profile, although it actually gets some additional info added to the name that signifies the colour settings, and what I take to be the ambient light measurement value.
The profiles are stored in the usual system locations.
Now you get to choose whether you want your monitor settings varied depending on room lighting conditions – the default is yes.
The display colour settings are chosen after the measuring stage.
D75 is a very cool setting that I would never have any use for, while a gamma of 2.2 gives a very good display quality on my own monitor.
D65/G2.2 is a fairly standard setting.
The original huey had a setting of 2.5 available (although it’s not listed as this – see my original article).
I was never able to see a use for the higher gamma values, although the help does suggest various games I’d never heard of as benefiting from these unusual settings
Colour management for games – there’s a new concept for most games creators ;-)
This is where you can select another monitor to profile, since the huey PRO supports this. While this feature has been available on Macs since I started using them in the late 80’s, it still causes issues with some PC video cards.
I have a short guide with some windows specific multiple monitor info on another page.
Multiple monitor support
The menu icon allows you to call up the huey software at any time – unfortunately the preferences do not allow you to hide the icon (this is plain wrong for a Mac application)
Note, that even on this control panel, attention has been given to providing helpful hints and info (a good thing)
The other setting allows you to set a reminder for recalibration.
14 days is too short a period for a maximum setting. I’d suggest 3 months might be more reasonable
There is also the ‘randomise my monitor settings’ ‘Room Lighting Monitoring’ control – not something I’d want, but your mileage may vary ;-)
It works well and gives good profiles. It’s simple to use and set up.
These devices offer much more sophisticated features such as projector profiling and ambient light measurement, but at greater cost. If you are interested in how things are done in a top end monitor profiling package, with specialied software for profile evaluation then have a look at the ColorEyes Display Pro review
One of the features that is currently unique to the huey PRO is the facility for updating profiles as room lighting changes.
The picture below shows the effect of the automatic settings (photos taken a few seconds apart at identical camera settings)
All very clever, but I for one don’t want the monitor changing it’s settings just because a cloud has gone in front of the sun.
If I’m that bothered about my working conditions (and it’s not for all my work I am) then I’ll keep them constant and profile my monitor. Fortunately you can turn this feature off.
A Personal Note: Look for magazine reviews by some of the more clueless writers that make the mistake of confusing feature count with feature usefulness. It’s one of the reasons we have slightly longer reviews on Northlight Images — not just based on press releases ;-) We are always happy to answer questions on real kit that we’ve used.
Unfortunately you still can’t hide the small green huey icon in the top RH side of the screen.
This is a fundamentally wrong aspect of interface design on the Mac and should be changed – it should be hideable in the application preferences.
Of my original gripes about the huey, most have now been addressed.
The help is now helpful, and the whole application has been made more useful to those wanting anything more than basic settings.
The additional information now covers some aspects of printing and even has a section on basic monitor profile evaluation.
I found it interesting to read through, and clearly laid out.
That information in the help file about evaluating your display profile (which can now be named) shows a fundamental change in how Pantone is aiming this product at the market.
For -myself-, the device is physically a bit too lightweight, and I’d certainly not suggest that anyone actually sticks it to their LCD, however the profiles it produced (with the room lighting feature turned off) gave a good smooth neutral display on the machine I tested.
As someone who thinks that users should always be trusted with the opportunity to find out more (if they want to) I found the experience of using the huey PRO -much- better than the original.
Much improved software and particularly so the documentation and help facilities.
Offers more detailed settings and support for multiple monitors compared with the original huey.
Note added Aug 07
The upgrade is also available in the UK, but do check the prices carefully, since it seems a rather unusual exchange rate was applied ;-)
If you are updating your huey to a huey PRO, then windows users will need to update firmware.
I’m told (Thanks Gilles) that:
“..the firmware zip file has to be extracted in the Pantone / Huey Pro directory ( C drive / Program files ). It is not mentioned in the instructions and the upgrade may fail if not done properly. ”
January 2012 – The huey hardware has not been updated for several years – do bear this in mind if you are using a modern LED backlit screen. Whilst the Huey Pro will still work, I’d suggest you might also look at newer products if you are using a better quality screen. As of 2012 I’m suggesting the Spyder4Express or ColorMunki Display as the best of the cheaper options that include the Huey Pro.
For information about printers, paper reviews and profiling (colour management) see the Printing section of the main printers and printing page, or use the search box at the top of any page. All colour management information is indexed on the main Colour Management page.
Some specific articles that may be of interest:
- Why don't my prints match my screen? A short article showing why there is more to getting your prints to match your screen, than just calibrating your monitor. It's the vital first step, but you do need to consider some other factors for best results.
- Why are my prints too dark - some basic suggestions to this common problem.
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