Spyder2PRO Studio

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, August 2005, updated Mar 2007
Manufactured by: ColorVision
Requires: Windows 2000 through Vista; Mac OS X v10.2 or higher; LCD or CRT monitor
MSRP: US$299.00, UK£199.95, €299.00 (dealers sell for less)

If you're a computer user you own both a display and printer. Over the years you've no doubt noticed that what you see on your display and what is produced by your printer are usually quite different. So why the difference? Much of this is due to the fact that displays are capable of displaying a wider range of colors than printers and (even more importantly) due to the fact that your printer and display are quite likely not calibrated. One of the most important factors, when it comes to dealing with color, is understanding that different devices have different levels of color fidelity.

ColorVision has been in the business of display calibration for a number of years and the company specializes in offering quality calibration solutions at an affordable price. I have for many years wanted to try one of ColorVision's calibration kits and when they announced the Spyder2PRO I figured it was a good bet that the unit would do the job very nicely. Over the last few years these type of systems have dropped in price from several thousands of dollars to just a few hundred. At current prices, no self-respecting creative should be without a calibration system.


The Spyder2PRO comes in several configurations and while most users will most likely never need to go beyond the basic versions, professional users should really take a look at the Studio Edition. This particular package ships with the new Spyder2PRO and comes bundled with Pantone Colorist and the nik Color Efex Pro 2.0 Standard Edition software as well as the Professional Color calibration software and ColorVision's DoctorPRO. The Spyder2PRO is very well put together and manufactured to a high standard. The kit comes with everything you will need to work with both CRT and LCD displays. For CRTs you will remove part of the Spyder2PRO casing to expose suction cups which lock the Spyder in position during calibration.

In the past, calibrating your system was at best a difficult endeavor. It was a long, semi-accurate process using software which walked you through adjustments of your brightness and contrast. It you were lucky and had thousands to spend, you might have been able to afford an expensive colorimeter or professional calibration system. With the Spyder2PRO, calibration is easier, more accurate and less expensive. The calibration process takes into account several factors and allows you to determine gamma, color temperature and luminance. The process also takes into account the type of display and graphics card you are using which is especially useful because of the number of creative professionals using both CRT and LCD.

The installation process is very straightforward and involves simply running the software supplied on the CD and carefully following the step-by-step instructions. The installation process requires that you disable antivirus software, deactivate any existing calibration settings and configure a number of settings in your display driver. You will be prompted to plug the Spyder2PRO into your USB port and after a few additional steps your display will be basically calibrated. The whole process should take about 20 minutes to complete from opening the box to having a calibrated display. There is fairly good support in the way of documentation and online support, but the manual could be a little easier to follow and could be of greater help preparing users for the calibration process.

The calibrated display will initially look wrong to your eyes but within a few hours you will get used to this and more important, you'll see that your output closely matches your display. You can take this process even further by purchasing additional hardware to profile your printers and scanners or if you feel up to the challenge, use the advanced profiling tools that are supplied to more finely tune your display. All of my output is now more accurate, with fewer re-dos, more effective drafts and draft presentations. As my monitors age, I'll recalibrate every so often in order to eliminate any settings drift in the monitor and to compensate for the inevitable deterioriation which occurs as monitors get older.

Cons: Installation instructions and the product manual should place greater emphasis on the importance of prepping your system and working environment for the process. It's really the only area of product improvement that I feel is necessary.

Pros: Easy to use. Scalable features. Support for multiple devices and configurations. Excellent grayscale handling. Before & after feature is very telling. Excellent software bundle. Excellent build quality. Understanding color management is one of the most important skills that any creative professional needs to develop in order to improve their workflow, efficiency and quality. Calibrating a system will greatly improve your ability to produce output which will work from conception through to final printing. Proper calibration also means that you can count on the fidelity of your prints, work with confidence and be more certain of your tools and results. The Spyder2PRO Studio is a definite benefit to the digital artist, photographer and designer who wants a calibrated display. I highly recommend the Spyder2PRO Studio.





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