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Review Eye One Display 2

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Review: Eye One (i1) Display 2

Colorimeter for profiling and calibrating monitors and displays

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The Eye One Display 2 device from GretagMacbeth (GMB, who make a wide range of colour management hardware and software) is a small device to enable you to accurately and quickly calibrate and profile CRT monitors and LCDs (including laptops).

Keith looks at the calibrator and the Eye One Match software (V3.2a) supplied with it.

2012 X-Rite took over GMB a few years ago and you can still find the i1Display 2 on sale.
However, the software has not been updated for a while. Equivalent products are the i1Display Pro and the more basic ColorMunki Display, both of which are fully reviewed on this site.

2020 Monitor technologies have moved on. For all the latest info connected with this, see the monitor calibration category in the drop-down list at the right.

eye one display 2

Monitor Calibration

The sensor is also available in the Pantone Eye One Display 2 package.

We have an update/addition to this review showing how the device fits in a new range of colour management solutions under the Pantone brand.

In case you are wondering just what this ‘Colour management’ stuff is, we’ve a very short guide to colour management page that might be of help.

What do you get?

The Eye One Display 2 device comes in a neat reusable box.

It includes an ambient light measurement attachment (the white plate) and a counterweight (black oval) for use with LCD displays, where the suction cups on the measuring device could damage the display.

Eye One Display 2It is a USB device and the software works fine on both Macs and PCs.

The actual device is smaller than the photo above (about 8cm or 3 inches long).

The box is actually a marvel of cardboard cutting and folding (who needs polystyrene?), however, be aware that you need some considerable dexterity to re-assemble it if you pull it apart!

I’ve used a Spyder Pro colorimeter for calibrating and profiling monitors for some time and more recently the Eye One spectrophotometer and I’ve been very happy with the results from both.

My Eye One spectrophotometer (Eye One Design review) is used for many other things (printer profiling for one) that are far beyond what you would try with a colorimeter.

The i1 Pro is also a lot more expensive

What the difference is between a Colorimeter and Spectrophotometer

The Eye One Display 2 that I’m looking at here is a colorimeter like the Spyder Pro, but also includes ambient light measurement capabilities.

It uses the same Eye One Match software that I use with the spectrophotometer.

Eye One Display 2 box and accessoriesEye One Display 2 in its box

If you are completely new to colour management I’d suggest you might like to have a look over my Introduction to colour management article on this site before going too much further into this review.

However, I have added links to articles and information on this site and others explaining some of the concepts mentioned here.

If you have an Eizo CG18, CG19, CG21 or LaCie Electron b4 monitors then you can avail yourself of “One Push Button Monitor Calibration (PBC) support” (not having any of these around the office, I’ve not been able to test it out)

Profiling and Calibration?

There are two main aspects of getting your monitor set up correctly:

Firstly, how do you characterise the actual performance of the display. For example…

  • How red is bright red
  • What colour is displayed at R=127,G=127,B=127 (should be a mid grey)
  • How linear is the brightness output with changing input values

This is ‘Profiling’ your monitor

Secondly, making the monitor perform as a ‘standard’ device

  • What gamma do you want to have (I use 2.2 for my displays now)
  • What colour temperature do you want (I usually use ‘native’ settings on my laptop or 6500 on CRTs)
  • What black and white point luminances do you want

This is ‘Calibration’

It’s worth remembering that you are actually measuring the whole monitor/display card combination, since some aspects of monitor display can depend on the capabilities of your video card.

Installing the software (Eye One Match) is a simple operation — Functions not appropriate to the Eye One Display 2 sensor are greyed out.

selecting monitor profiling

Here, I’ve selected monitor profiling. You can pick an easy ‘set it all up for me mode’ or a more advanced set of options giving control over many more calibration parameters. There is a useful help panel on the right hand side available throughout the process.

selecting LCD profiling

I’ve selected LCD profiling

Next I select my chosen white point, gamma and luminance.

choosing advanced calibration settings

I’ve chosen Native for this LCD since I’m not looking to use it for critical colour matching and want to maintain the best overall performance. There are recommended settings for different types of displays and their uses in the help panel.

I’ve chosen ambient light measurement as an option. When you check the ambient lighting in Eye One Match you need to calibrate the sensor for ambient lighting using the white plastic ambient light head.

fitting the ambient light measurement device

You can then make measurements of light levels. The bar graphs give an indication of colour temperature and intensity.

measuring ambient light

In this case the temperature of 4900K is pretty good, but the illuminance of 85 Lux is too high for optimal levels. The help panel explains more about these values and where they come from (article on ISO 6664 and viewing standards)

The dismal lighting levels might come as a bit of a surprise, but they really do help with colour accuracy – I need only quote from my Mother when she visited my office “How can you work in the dark like this” :-)

You remove the ambient head for actual measurement of the display. The plastic base is very firmly attached when it is clipped on to the measuring unit and requires quite a bit of force to remove it — more force than I initially felt like applying to a precision instrument, but it did come off…

The Eye One Display device is attached to the screen by its little suction cups for CRTs and just rested against it for LCDs (the counterweight is attached to the cable to balance it) It helps with LCDs (and Laptops) if you tilt the screen back slightly so that the sensor rests cleanly on the display.

In advanced mode you get to set display brightness and contrast (with the sensor attached) Adjustments are made to monitor settings to get close to your chosen settings.

The calibration and profiling process then takes a few minutes, so be careful to disable any screen saver that might cut in and ruin the calibration process. The screen should have been on for a while (at least 20 minutes) to stabilise. If you want to see just how much difference there is, profile your screen after 10 minutes use, and then an hour later. Our eyes are so good at compensating for colour drifts and variation that you will probably be quite surprised at the change.

At the end, you get a graphical representation of the LCD response curve and an indication of Gamut. The profile is calculated and you can save it and make it the default monitor profile.

Profile and gamut display for Apple 23 inch display

Profile for my Apple 23″ LCD Cinema Display

I also compared the ambient light measurement from an Eye one Display 2 to that from an Eye One spectrophotometer.

color temperature and brightness check

The measurement shows a very low colour temperature at 88 Lux. This was an energy saving light bulb in my hallway. The Eye One result shows the very spiky spectrum that such lamps produce.

spectrum of energy saving bulb

Data from using Eye One Share with an Eye One Spectro – see the Eye One Design review for my opinions on this free software.


Buying the i1 Display 2

We make a specific point of not selling hardware, but if you found the review of help, please consider buying the i1 Display 2, or any other items at all, via our links with Amazon or B&H
Amazon UK link / Amazon Fr / Amazon De
Amazon USA link / Amazon Canada link

It won’t cost any more (nor less we’re afraid) but will contribute towards the running costs of our site., 

The monitor profiling is very easy to set up and use. The help facilities mean that you won’t need to get the manual out every few weeks to profile your monitors. The ambient light measurement is a useful adjunct, although you will need to understand a bit more about workspace set-up and lighting if you are to make the most of it. Several monitor profiles I created were indistinguishable from ones created shortly before with the Eye One spectrophotometer.

Eye One Display 2 packages are available from a wide variety of suppliers. The info at GretagMacbeth also mentions a $200 discount voucher for subsequent Eye One purchases). It is available for Macs and Windows PCs (OS X 10.2 or higher, win 2k or XP)

If you are on a tight budget you can still (Jul 05) get hold of the old Eye One Display device, the new device is said to produce noticeably better profiles, but I’ve seen the old units for as low as $70. Might be just the thing if you are looking to move up from doing your calibration by eye? I should imagine that stocks won’t be around for long though.

March 2006 — GMB have updated the Eye-One Match software with some extra functionality – more details
January 2012 See our i1Display Pro and ColorMunki Display reviews for the current versions of the calibrators,

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