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CalMAN RGB, Value, Accuracy, And Ease Of Use

Do It Like Tom's: Calibrating Your Monitor With CalMAN RGB
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We realize that the vast number of packages and options available from Spectracal can be pretty confusing. And only a pro is likely to make the investment in a product like CalMAN Ultimate. Fortunately, there are solutions for the value-conscious in the form of CalMAN RGB and CalMAN Basic. For $249, you can calibrate your monitor or HDTV to a higher level of precision than you could achieve with only a pattern disc.

The CalMAN RGB package is especially impressive with its integrated pattern generator, profile manager, and display control features. It walks you through each step with clear, concise instructions, and then it explains exactly what’s happening and how your changes affect the image. With the power to create multiple picture modes, you can set up your display for any and all conceivable environments. And don’t forget multi-display support. One of the most important things in a multi-screen setup is matching them to one another, especially if they’re not the same model. With CalMAN, any monitor can be adjusted to display an accurate image.

The biggest advantage of CalMAN over the Spyder products is how SpectraCal manages to support both OSD calibration and look-up tables. You don’t have to choose a single path; CalMAN combines the best aspects of both techniques to create its display profiles. Even though our test monitor has an extensive OSD, CalMAN goes further by adding in multi-point gamma and grayscale control. Instead of the OSD’s gamma presets and two-point grayscale sliders, we get a 17-point adjustment for both parameters.

We noted in our review of Dell's UP3214Q that its CMS lacked a luminance control. While this didn’t impact the results, CalMAN RGB does manage to make up for that deficiency. The Color Checker error dropped from .85 to .35 Delta E. That is an invisible amount, we know, but it still indicates an improvement.

You’ve seen in our more recent monitor reviews that displays at all price points are improving in their out-of-box accuracy. It is now possible to buy a screen that looks pretty good without calibration. But we have not yet failed to improve upon stock accuracy with an instrumented calibration. And for those professionals who depend on accurate color, tools like CalMAN are indispensable. At $249, CalMAN RGB represents a terrific value to anyone wanting to get their feet wet with calibration and improve the image accuracy of their monitor or HDTV. We liked the Datacolor Spyder4Elite solution, but Spectracal definitely offers more power for the money. And if you need a state-of-the-art solution, the company has you covered not only with software, but hardware as well.

We use CalMAN every day for testing all display types: monitors, projectors, and HDTVs. And we recommend it above all other currently-available products. For that reason, and the fact that you can get started for only $249, we’re recognizing it with the Tom's Hardware Smart Buy award. Happy calibrating!

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  • 8 Hide
    Heironious , March 19, 2014 2:30 AM
    250 bucks? They can keep it.
  • 8 Hide
    merikafyeah , March 19, 2014 2:36 AM
    I know it's exaggerated for the purpose of demonstrating differences in calibrated views, but you have got to pick a better "before and after" pic than the one you've been using up to now. They don't even compare the same subject. Half of the image is one thing and the other half is something else entirely. It's impossible to compare something if you're not even certain what exactly it is that you're comparing. I'd argue they don't even depict the kind of differences you'd see in calibrated vs uncalibrated displays, just different preferences in regards to artistic color-grading.
  • 1 Hide
    daglesj , March 19, 2014 2:52 AM
    Are the Datacolor Spyders now properly calibrated out of the factory? Apparently quality control and specs were not very well handled with the Mk3 and befores. Basically every Spyder 3 would give different results.
  • 9 Hide
    vertexx , March 19, 2014 3:00 AM
    Hate to say it, but this one reads like an infomercial....
  • 2 Hide
    sveinan , March 19, 2014 3:21 AM
    I would recommend a review on ColorHUG (about $110), open source display colorimeter. It's fast, and worth it's money (http://www.hughski.com/index.html).
  • 4 Hide
    T1249NTSCJ , March 19, 2014 3:43 AM
    displaycalGUI is another option if you already have an meter available.
  • -4 Hide
    T1249NTSCJ , March 19, 2014 3:44 AM
    displaycalGUI is another option if you already have an meter available.
  • -1 Hide
    MANOFKRYPTONAK , March 19, 2014 6:20 AM
    CNET reviews TVs and they post their calibration settings that they use for the best results. Each calibration is set up with professional tools, you can look up each tv by model number. I don't know if it is as good as this but.. its free! And it made a difference for me. But others like colorHUG, displaycalGUI, etc... are good just some different options if anyone is looking.
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , March 19, 2014 8:20 AM
    Quote:
    Hate to say it, but this one reads like an infomercial....
    This is simply the follow-up to an earlier story we did on Datacolor's solution that was well-received: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/spyder4-monitor-calibration-image-quality,3581.html. Both tools are in-use in our labs--I think it's useful to show our readers what we use to review monitors and how they might achieve similar results. At least, that was the intent.
  • 1 Hide
    Evolution2001 , March 19, 2014 10:12 AM
    I'd really like to calibrate my projector using more than just my eyes for perception. Using either the Spyder or CalMAN solutions, which ones offers me the least expensive path to that goal? Is it better to buy one of their all-inclusive packages, or find a colorimeter and software independently?
  • 1 Hide
    vertexx , March 19, 2014 12:35 PM
    Quote:
    This is simply the follow-up to an earlier story we did on Datacolor's solution that was well-received: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/spyder4-monitor-calibration-image-quality,3581.html. Both tools are in-use in our labs--I think it's useful to show our readers what we use to review monitors and how they might achieve similar results. At least, that was the intent.
    Agreed - I read the first and this one - both are very informative. I wasn't trying to place any accusations of bias, just on how it reads. The first article read like "Here's what we do at Tom's for calibration" and was very clearly educational. This one just read differently - a little more like a commercial - that's all.

    I'd love to be able to rent one of these for about $20 for a day instead of forking over the $250 - wonder if that's possible.
  • 0 Hide
    blackened144 , March 19, 2014 2:12 PM
    I just bought a 38.5" Westinghouse 120Hz LED-LCD 1080p TV for about $260. When I first turned it on and saw the splash screen which is a white crown on an all black background you could tell there was a super bright spot in the middle that was so bright and annoying it made me want to put it back in the box and return it immediately. Fortunately I had things to do and I had to let it ride for a few days befroe I could return it. After it being on for the entire weekend though the horrible bright spot is no longer there and its a much better picture than the last LG 120Hz TV I bought for over $1000. That being said, there is no way in hell I would buy a $250 calibration kit for my $260 TV.
  • 0 Hide
    T1249NTSCJ , March 19, 2014 4:42 PM
    Quote:
    CNET reviews TVs and they post their calibration settings that they use for the best results. Each calibration is set up with professional tools, you can look up each tv by model number. I don't know if it is as good as this but.. its free! And it made a difference for me. But others like colorHUG, displaycalGUI, etc... are good just some different options if anyone is looking.
    Each display is different. e.g. Samsung displays don't all use Samsung panels, you'll need to go into the service menu to determine you either purchased a Samsung, Sharp or Chi Mei panel. Someone with a Sharp panel might not yield the accuracy of calibrated settings posted by someone with an IPS Samsung panel.
  • 0 Hide
    10tacle , March 19, 2014 5:07 PM
    I just bought a Crossover 27" Korean IPS 2560x1440 (a steal at $315 US) and am looking for a calibration tool. Still not happy with the Nvidia tool from the video card. With all the other HDTVs, PC monitors, laptops, and tablets I have, it would be well worth the investment to spend $250-$400 to get them all up to their best specs possible as I've never been really happy with any of their display settings, usually taken from ideas from AVS Forum member settings. I can understand the rejection of paying this kind of money for calibration on one or a handful of items, but if you have 10+ items that could benefit from one of these tools and are unhappy with their settings, IMO it is worth it. Not to mention you would still be using it on items purchased in the future too (like a shiny new 4K 30" monitor for $1200 a couple years from now).
  • 1 Hide
    Nada190 , March 19, 2014 9:59 PM
    Buy another monitor or calibrate current one? What a difficult decision.
  • 0 Hide
    Steven Stuu , March 20, 2014 12:58 AM
    with that money i can just buy a new monitor.
  • 0 Hide
    Nemesis_001 , March 20, 2014 5:03 AM
    Quote:
    A while back, we introduced you to display calibration with Datacolor's Sypder4Elite. Today we look at CalMAN RGB, which is the other major calibration solution. With extensive meter and pattern source support, it’s positioned as a professional’s tool.

    Do It Like Tom's: Calibrating Your Monitor With CalMAN RGB : Read more


    Is it possible to do a similar guide using Chromapure?
  • 0 Hide
    sritri , March 20, 2014 9:04 AM
    Can I calibrate an 27" 2011 Apple Cinema Display ?
  • 0 Hide
    godlyatheist , March 20, 2014 9:04 AM
    I can't find anywhere to buy this bundle for $249 like the article suggests. SpectraCal watns $299 for the C3 colorimeter + software. Their resellers want either $299 as well or it's out of stock. So even if someone wants to get this, they can't do it. I tried the Spyder4Pro before and it was terrible. Both my laptop (WLED, TN) and Dell U2412M (WLED, IPS) got a strong green cast after calibration and the software insists it is accurate. I returned it immediately. If you are not a professional, just pay someone $30-50 bucks to do it.
  • 0 Hide
    syrious1 , March 20, 2014 9:53 AM
    Cheaper
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