Pantone Huey review: Pantone Huey

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The Good Multimonitor support (Pro); neat ambient light adjustment; compact, attractive design.

The Bad Requires visual calibration of brightness and contrast.

The Bottom Line The Pantone Huey Pro is a clever, inexpensive monitor calibration solution for photo hobbyists, but you'll have to look elsewhere if your color work requires precision.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

About a month ago, the suction cups on the calibrator puck for my very-expensive-but-long-since-discontinued Sony Artisan CRT display simply stopped sucking. Given the 20-minute-plus process required to calibrate the monitor, I didn't feel like holding the puck to the screen for the duration. So I reached into my Drawer of Unreviewed Products--there's also a Shelf, a Bin, and a Pile--and pulled out the Pantone Huey Pro. Though not as sophisticated as the Artisan system, the Huey Pro has the advantage of supporting multiple monitors, which means that it can profile the sublime CRT as well as the ridiculous corporate-issue Sony LCD sitting next to it.

Huey comes in two versions: regular old Pantone Huey and Huey Pro. The hardware--a sticklike colorimeter--is identical for both. The $25 or so difference buys you a software upgrade that enables support for multiple monitors, user-selectable reference white point and gamma, and a better help system.

For the confused and/or uninitiated, Huey Pro--or any other calibrator system, for that matter--can't perform magic. It doesn't make prints match your monitor. That requires color-management software, which connects the profiles of the various calibrated devices in your system. Windows and OS X serve that function to a large extent these days, and if you're a prospective Huey user, that's probably what you're using.

Tour: Monitor calibration with Pantone Huey Pro
At best, a monitor calibrator helps your display be all it can be. From that perspective, the Huey Pro does its job. Colors look more accurate with Huey than without, on both of my displays. There are also fewer color and brightness disparities between the expensive display and cheap display, though they're still visibly different.

The ambient light adjustment isn't quite as sensitive as I'd expected, however. It recognizes large changes in light illumination levels, such as switching from table lamps to overhead fluorescents and back, but doesn't seem to compensate for changes in illumination from the individual lamps. (It might come in handy for those who watch movies on their computers and like to turn off the lights.) Nor does it seem to compensate for changes in the color temperature of the lights, but I suppose that would be asking a bit much. It's worth using simply for the Cylon lights that roll by on a regular basis.

For a relatively inexpensive price, the Pantone Huey and Huey Pro deliver cleverly designed, easy-to-use display calibration.

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