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

CalMAN Products Overview: Home User

Today's article focuses on computer monitor calibration. But SpectraCal also has a full suite of products for optimizing HDTVs. If you’d like to engage in a little do-it-yourself with your display, the price of admission isn’t nearly as steep. In fact, for the same $150, you can buy a package similar to CalMAN RGB that includes a disc of test patterns. Here’s a quick rundown of the home use packages available.

CalMAN 5 Basic - $149

  • Meters: C3, C6, i1Display
  • Pattern control DVD
  • Basic and intermediate workflows

CalMAN 5 Control - $299

All of the above, plus:

  • Support for all tri-stim colorimeters and i1Pro
  • Pattern control via DVD or signal generator
  • AutoCal
  • Advanced workflows
  • Meter profile editor

CalMAN 5 Enthusiast - $399

All of the above, plus:

  • Two PC client licenses
  • Design Mode
  • 3D LUT calibration
  • All workflows
  • All editors

The value of the Enthusiast package is substantial, mainly because you get Design Mode. This is an extremely powerful tool that lets you create your own pages and workflows. Once you’ve mastered it, you can generate reports on pretty much any imaging parameter.

What you don’t get compared to the professional products is support for more exotic spectrometers. You also lose some support for signal generators and outboard video processors. If you’re calibrating your own displays though, that's no big loss. If you can afford a pattern generator (they start at around $1500), the more expensive CalMAN software doesn’t seem quite as dear.

When you lack a signal generator, you need another way to create patterns. The cheapest and simplest solution is a disc and your DVD or Blu-ray player. As I mentioned, the Basic package for $249 includes a DVD with all of the patterns you need. And using the Control and Enthusiast products, you can automate your player using an IR dongle. Stepping up to that Enthusiast level additionally gets you the monitor calibration workflows to do everything seen on the following pages.

The prices we have listed don't include a meter. In my opinion, the best value is CalMAN Enthusiast with a C6 for $1000. With that, you’re able to calibrate any display (including projectors) with the same precision and flexibility as us using CalMAN Ultimate. There are a number of disc-based pattern sets that can be downloaded for free. Or you can pick up the latest Spears & Munsil disc for around thirty bucks from Amazon.

Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.

  • Heironious
    250 bucks? They can keep it.
  • merikafyeah
    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.
  • daglesj
    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.
  • vertexx
    Hate to say it, but this one reads like an infomercial....
  • sveinan
    I would recommend a review on ColorHUG (about $110), open source display colorimeter. It's fast, and worth it's money (
  • T1249NTSCJ
    displaycalGUI is another option if you already have an meter available.
  • T1249NTSCJ
    displaycalGUI is another option if you already have an meter available.
    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.
  • cangelini
    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:,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.
  • Evolution2001
    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?