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Review of the Pantone Huey monitor calibration system
The Huey, from Pantone/gretagmacbeth sets a low cost entry point for monitor profiling and calibration software.
Keith has been looking at this unique device (it is a colorimeter) and the approach it takes towards offering colour management and improving colour on your display.
The Mac version of the Pantone Huey is reviewed here, but the Windows version works in the same way (manufacturers info)
huey PRO upgrade ($39)- a software update is now available from Pantone.
PANTONE huey 1.0.5 Update
PANTONE huey 1.0.4 Update
PANTONE huey 1.0.3 Update
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?
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.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.
At it's simplest you should adjust your monitor by eye to get good brightness and contrast. There are various software tools that can help you in this (see the Viewing Page in the Articles/Resources section) but these are at best a partial solution (they rely on your eyesight for one thing).
You need a hardware device of some sort that will make the adjustments for you. The software that comes with the device builds 'icc monitor profiles' which are used by your operating system (MacOS or Windows for example) or software (such as Photoshop) to produce an accurate display.
There is one last aspect that is important -- standards. There is no point in me having my monitor set up to some arbitrary setting, if there is no way of you knowing what my setting means.
This comes about from there being no one 'correct' way of setting a monitor. I'll come back to this later when I've shown how the Huey profiling colorimenter and software works.
The Huey is a small 10cm long device that comes with a stand, USB extension lead, software CD and pack of screen cleaner.
The picture shows the device at almost life size.
The sensor clips into the stand, and is used in this configuration to detect changes in room lighting.
One feature not mentioned in the (brief) literature supplied with the device, is that the base can hold the cable and USB plug underneath.
The grey patch half way along the back of the device is the ambient light sensor.
The four patches at the bottom are LEDs that light up when the device is being used.
Also, take care with that very thin USB cable, it wouldn't take too much of a tug to break it.
The underside of the Huey, showing (left) the suction caps that hold it to a screen when being used, and (right) the 3 sensors used in making the screen measurements.
The screen cleaner is supplied to clean your screen before measurements, and help the Huey stick...
Installing the monitor colour correction software on my Mac simply required dragging the application from the CD to my Utilities folder (this just happens to be the place I put such things...)
Opening the application for the first time lets you review the help file - but all it really needs is to press the START button
There is a question mark icon to the right that reveals the help info. You should also be able to check for software updates, but all I got was a server error page -- oops
Select your screen type (LCD in this instance)
Put the sensor into its stand to check room lighting
Room lighting measurement for my laptop
... and on my desktop machine.
Next you are asked to attach the sensor to your screen.
It says that it's OK to stick to LCDs, but obviously I didn't attach it too well.
The sensor falls off my screen. You can see the blur of the red LEDs on the back of the sensor as it plummets to its doom (pure luck this photo!).
That's it ... I'm not sticking things to my rather expensive LCD screen!
I'd suggest that if you have an LCD you use gravity to assist.
I cannot recommend trying to stick anything to an LCD.
Tilting the monitor back allows the Huey to rest in place.
Similarly, here is the Huey being used on my PowerBook.
The screen shot below, shows one of the coloured patches that the device reads (grey in this case).
Afterwards you can replace the sensor in its cradle.
You can see just how much the calibration process has changed things by switching between corrected and uncorrected modes.
A GretagMacbeth ColorChecker pattern helps. The picture of the model is possibly there to show changes in skin tone. Not too much help given the amount of make-up she's wearing and the lighting used :-)
I suppose someone in marketing decided it was a good idea ...
Select a calibration setting that you want to use. I'll explain what these actually mean in a bit.
Do you want the software to update your calibration if the room lighting changes?
So, there you have it ... your display is calibrated.
You can alter settings in a control panel afterwards, without needing to run the application again.
It's very easy to use, once I decided that I really wasn't going to stick things to my big LCD screen.
The software explains very simply what to do, and you end up with a calibrated monitor.
Well, yes you do, but calibrated to what?
The software installs (on the Mac) a preference panel that allows you to alter settings after you have carried out the calibration.
OK, here we see I've selected 'Web Browsing & Photo Editing' - since this is what I do quite a bit of...
It's a good idea to have a reminder as to when to calibrate -- but how long will it be if I tick that box?
I could have had all other kinds of settings, but what is 'Special: Warm, medium contrast' ??
I looked further, at the monitor settings control panel. This is the standard system interface in MacOS X
The clue as to what is going on is in the monitor profile name - 'huey D65 G2.2 A45.19'
D65 and G2.2 refer (I assume) to the calibration settings.
D65 is the illuminant used - or what is often known as the temperature of the monitor (it is similar to what might be called 6500K in some calibration packages)
G2.2 suggests a Gamma of 2.2 (which is what I normally use with my display)
...but what about the A45.19?
I suspect this refers to the room lighting conditions, since it changed when I opened the curtains and got the software to re-check.
If automated this 'feature' can modify your display profile at set intervals. This can range from 10 seconds to 4 hours.
I went through the settings and found this (possible) correlation between them and profile names.
Would it really have been that difficult to include this table for reference somewhere?
A hypothetical example
- they now have a default monitor setting of D75 and a Gamma of 2.5
I applaud the idea of getting more people to calibrate their monitors, and if this product was just aimed at consumers I'd welcome the simplification of the process and the decision to unburden them of the requirement to learn the basics of colour management (not that I think the principles are beyond most people).
BUT... this product is going to be purchased by many small companies looking to get their feet wet in colour management. You could say that they should go for a more advanced option such as the Spyder or Eye One Display that I've looked at elsewhere (reviews). However I know small companies - money matters, so the Huey will sell.
More concern needs to be given to educating users, rather than just selling a simple to use device (and it is simple to use)
OK, I'll accept that having lots more people with calibrated monitors is a good thing, it's just I'd like to have seen a bit more guidance in the application help, to explain why some choices were better than others.
Just because something is accurately set up, does not make it correctly set up...
There is a PDF quick start guide on the software CD, unfortunately it's just a PDF of the printed guide you get with the product.
The software produced a distinct improvement in the displays of both my Apple 23" Cinema display and 15" PowerBook. Not up to what I'd get from more expensive equipment, but far better than any method relying on adjustments 'by eye'
Because of the small sensor size I'd also suggest that you carry out your calibration in dimly lit conditions. It does not take much light reflected off the screen into the sensor to affect the measurements.
Another hypothetical example
No, I don't think I'd really want my monitor settings changing with the weather -- I'd leave the 'Automunge' feature switched off.
The interface of the software is quite well designed, but I found it irritating that it added an item in my menu bar that I couldn't hide from within the Huey preferences.
I didn't ask for that red icon! take it away
Buying the huey Pro
We make a specific point of not selling hardware, but if you found the review of help please consider buying the huey Pro, or any other items at all, via our links with Amazon or B&H
It won't cost any more (nor less we're afraid) but will contribute towards the running costs of our site.
Amazon.fr Huey Calibrateur cran
Amazon.de Huey PRO
Amazon.ca Huey Calibrator
Very easy to use and set up. Profiles produced a noticeable improvement in displays.
I'd suggest using gravity rather than the rubber suckers, when calibrating LCDs. I just don't like the idea of trying to stick things to a LCD screen.
At the price, it's going to be popular, but I do take serious issue with the degree that the interface/help has been dumbed down, to the point of not including useful information that might help people make better and more consistent use of the product.
The help available provides no additional information to help you beyond getting the device to work (it's fine for that). I just wish that the need for product differentiation had not removed the opportunity to educate users in colour management if they were curious. A short sighted omission and I'll blame my favourite villains -- marketing :-)
If you are going to get a huey, then I'd personally want to go for the 'PRO' version
Additional notes added Aug 07
The huey -> huey PRO ($39) 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 mentionned in the instructions and upgrade may fail if not done properly. "
These Amazon links won't get you the products any cheaper we're afraid, but it does help contribute to the running of our site and providing all the articles - thanks.
The views in this article represent those of Keith Cooper.
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