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From the author of The Right Way to Calibrate Your Monitor (Hardware Calibration)

The Right Way to Calibrate Your Monitor (Hardware Calibration)

Hardware calibration is definitely the preferred method of monitor calibration (in fact, I don’t know of a single pro using the freebie software-only method). With hardware calibration, it’s measuring your actual monitor and building an accurate profile for the exact monitor you’re using, and yes—it makes that big a difference. I now use X-Rite’s Eye-One Display 2 (after hearing so many friends rave about it), and I have to say—I’m very impressed. It’s become popular with pros thanks to the sheer quality of its profiles, its ease-of-use, and affordability (around $200 street).

Step One:

You start by installing the Eye-One Match 3 software from the CD that comes with it (the current version was 3.6.2 as of the writing of this book. However, once you launch Match 3 for the first time, I recommend clicking the Check for Updates button [as shown here] to have it check for a newer version, just in case). Once the latest version is installed, plug the Eye-One Display into your computer’s USB port, then relaunch the software to bring up the main window (seen here). You do two things here: (1) you choose which device to profile (in this case, a monitor), and (2) you choose your profiling mode (where you choose between Easy or Advanced. If this is your first time using a hardware calibrator, I recommend clicking the Easy radio button).

Step Two:

After choosing Easy, press the Right Arrow button in the bottom right, and the window you see here will appear. Here you just tell the software which type of monitor you have: an LCD (a flat-panel monitor), a CRT (a glass monitor with a tube), or a laptop (which is what I’m using, so I clicked on Laptop, as shown here), then press the Right Arrow button again.

Step Three:

The next screen asks you to Place Your Eye-One Display on the Monitor, which means you drape the sensor over your monitor so the Eye-One Display sits flat against your monitor and the cord hangs over the back. The sensor comes with a counterweight you can attach to the cord, so you can position the sensor approximately in the center of your screen without it slipping down. There is a built-in suction cup for use on CRT monitors.

Step Four:

Once the sensor is in position (this takes all of about 20 seconds) click the Right Arrow button, sit back, and relax. You’ll see the software conduct a series of onscreen tests, using gray and white rectangles and various color swatches, as shown here. (Note: Be careful not to watch these onscreen tests while listening to Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced,” because before you know it, you’ll be on your way to Canada in a psychedelic VW Microbus with only an acoustic guitar and a hand-drawn map to a campus protest. Hey, I’ve seen it happen.)

Step Five:

This testing only goes on for around six or seven minutes (at least, that’s all it took for my laptop), then it’s done. It does let you see a before and after (using the buttons on the bottom), and you’ll probably be shocked when you see the before/after results (most people are amazed at how blue or red their screen was every day, yet they never noticed). Once you’ve compared your before and after, click the Finish Calibration button and that’s it—your monitor is accurately profiled, and it even installs the profile for you and then quits. It should be called “Too Easy” mode.

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