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HP, others endorse color standard

The computer industry has yet to adopt a color standard that will ensure the color you see on your monitor is the same shade that comes out of your printer.

What's red is not always black and white.

That's because the computer industry has yet to adopt a color standard that will ensure the color you see on your monitor is the same shade that comes out of your printer. But a trio of major hardware and software vendors today threw their support behind Standard Red, Green, Blue (sRGB), which assigns an unambiguous numerical definition to red, green, and blue.

Hewlett-Packard, Corel, and Pantone all announced their adoption of sRGB for their hardware and software products. sRGB will be standard in all HP printers and scanners, in CorelDraw 8, and all Pantone digital products.

The need for the standard arises because devices that create color with their own light sources--such as monitors and scanners--use RGB to specify color. Printing devices such as printers and presses, on the other hand, use CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). For an RGB machine to relay data to a CMYK machine, the RGB values have to be specified. And without a standard, the monitor from Company X shows a slightly different red than the printer from Company Y.

The computer industry has been considering sRGB for about six months, according to Spencer & Associates analyst David Spencer, who predicted the specification's widespread adoption.

The sRGB specification, which already has the strong backing Microsoft and about 20 companies, is also endorsed for the Web by the World Wide Web Consortium.

Spencer noted that some graphics professionals may desire more flexibility in color specification than sRGB will supply. But for the average user, sRGB will improve the quality and consistency of color.

"It will give them something significantly better than what they have today, with very little impact in terms of cost," said Spencer. "And the user won't have to think about it."