Even professional-grade LCD monitors, such as the superb HP DreamColor LP2480zx, can benefit a lot from colour calibration. Especially since the switch from CRT to LCD for monitors, colour calibration is crucial to anyone who is half-serious about imaging or graphics, and the only way to get the best calibration is with an external device known as a colorimeter.
Datacolor specialises in products for the calibration of most screen types, from professional monitors to TVs, and with many colorimeter sets costing well over £100 its Spyder3 Express comes in at a surprisingly affordable £73. As you would expect, this represents the base of its Spyder3 line, which also includes Pro (around £100), Elite (generally about £130), Print and TV models.
In terms of hardware, the Express gets you the same basic Spyder3 measurement device as the Pro and Elite but differs in what it allows you to adjust, some extra hardware and the included software. For example, the Express offers no gamma choices and very limited colour temperature choices (two compared with the Pro’s four and Elite’s unlimited options), and lacks the multiple display calibration, embedded ambient light sensor, desktop stand and software printer profiling of its peers (additionally the Elite offers custom luminance control, front projector calibration, custom targets such as NTSC, PAL and Cineon, and a whole host of other extras).
Datacolor’s Spyder3 Express comes neatly packaged with the device visible beneath clear plastic. In the box you’ll find a handy quick-start guide, monitor cleaning cloth, software CD, attachable suction cup and of course the colorimeter itself.
This is a very attractive-looking and well-built device, weighing in at a light 50 grams and clothed in a mixture of piano black and black rubber with a small blue LED which flashes when the Spyder3 is active. Before you connect it though, you’ll need to install the included software, which is compatible with both Windows and MacOS and can run on specifications as lowly as those of a netbook. Installation is relatively painless, but does require you to both enter a serial and subsequently record another serial number that is generated by the program and required for future installations.