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How To Calibrate Your HDTV

SpyderHD Walkthrough, Part 1

We recently received a press sample of Datacolor’s SpyderHD kit for evaluation, so we thought we’d include our findings and observations here. The kit comes with a Spyder4 colorimeter, mounting tools for both panels and projectors, a set of test patterns on Blu-ray and DVD (PAL and NTSC), plus color and white point samples for use by photographers. It all comes neatly packaged in a nice carrying case for $349.

By the way, if you’re only interested in calibrating a flat-panel TV, you can purchase the Spyder4TV HD for $129. It includes just the meter, software, and test pattern discs.

We’re not going to cover the entire kit today. But we will install the software on our Dell XPS laptop and run a few test calibrations on our reference Pioneer PRO-111FD plasma display.

After installing and activating the software, the wizard begins by asking you if you’re calibrating a computer monitor or HDTV. Selecting HDTV means you’re using the test patterns on the provided Blu-ray disc. At this point, your TV should be warmed up for at least 20 minutes and the pattern disc should be in your player. And just like on the previous page, choose the Movie or Cinema mode. On our Pioneer, we’re starting in the Pure mode.

First up is a simple checklist to be sure the meter is connected, the pattern disc is in the player, and so forth. You’ll have to check all the boxes before you can click Next.

Now choose your display type. It matters because the meter uses different measurement offsets for each technology. Plus, the wizard needs to branch to the proper screen that shows you how to place the meter.

Run through the full ranges of each setting then enter the correct numbers in the Current Settings screen. Later, you’ll be told exactly what settings to enter as SpyderHD takes measurements and determines the optimal values for each image adjustment.

The next series of screens address each control individually. You’re told which pattern to select, what setting to choose, and when to take a measurement. Controlling the pattern disc is extremely easy. You can either make your choice from the disc’s main menu or use the chapter skip buttons on your player’s remote. SpyderHD only uses six patterns and you don’t have to engage in too much back and forth to get your results.

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