Huey Pro Review

Review Date: July 3rd 2007
Author: Jon Canfield

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Introduction

Huey Pro


When the Pantone Huey was introduced about a year ago, this color management device was noteworthy for a couple of reasons. The first was the price. At well under $100, the Huey was clearly targeted to the more casual user than previous offerings had been. The Huey was also one of the easiest calibration devices to use, and the only one that supported automatic adjustments for ambient light changes. This year, Huey Pro is out and the big brother offers some nice enhancements while keeping the ease of use that the original Huey was appreciated for. For a list price of $129, you can achieve accurate color with a minimum of fuss.

The Huey Pro is designed by Pantone with cooperation from X-Rite, the makers of pro level color management devices and software, and uses a colorimeter to measure color values and luminance of both your computer display and to a degree, your ambient light Ė more on that later. The hardware itself is much smaller than anything else available as you can see from Figure 1 below. To calibrate your display, you run the included software which flashes various colors on screen that the Huey Pro records. Once completed, these color values are used to create an ICC profile for your display. If youíre into photography, and by reading this I think itís safe to assume that you are, you should know that a calibrated display is the first and most critical step in color management. After all, unless the color on your monitor is predictable, youíll never be certain what the results will be when you hit the print button.

At first glance, the software included with the Huey Pro (Figure 2 below) looks like the same application that the original Huey had. But not far under the surface there are some valuable changes that give you more control over the way your profile is created.

After launching the program, which works the same on both Windows and Macintosh systems, youíll be asked to select your display type Ė LCD/Laptop or CRT. The next step measures the room lighting conditions youíre working in and takes just a couple of seconds, during which your screen settings are likely to change dramatically, but donít worry about that for now. When prompted, youíll place the Huey Pro on your screen where itís held by several small suction cups as shown in Figure 3 below. Once you hit ďNextĒ, Huey Pro will start to measure various color patches (about 30 in all). The entire process takes just a couple of minutes. This is one area that improves over the original Huey, which only measured about 15 colors.

Once measurements are completed, youíll see a screen that lets you flip between the calibrated and uncalibrated settings (Figures 4 and 5 below). The differences are likely to be major and itís easy to see that the Huey Pro colors are much more neutral in tone than the uncalibrated display settings are.


The next change from the standard Huey software is the settings screen. Where Huey only allowed you to select the type of work you did, such as graphic arts or photography,, the Pro software lets you set color temperature and gamma separately. By default the color temperature will be D65 which is a neutral white. You can select D50 for a warmer tone, or D75 for a cooler white, but unless you have specific reasons to do so, I suggest staying with D65. Gamma choices are 1.8, 2.2, and 2.4. Long time Mac users will be familiar with gamma 1.8 which was the default for the Macintosh. For digital imaging, a gamma of 2.2 is suggested, and if youíre using an LCD display, this is normally the default already selected. Windows users have long had gamma 2.2 as the default standard.

The final choice to make is whether you want Huey Pro to automatically adjust your display for changes in lighting conditions. This works by leaving Huey plugged into your USB port and sitting in its stand. Every few minutes the Huey will flash the lights on the front of the device and check your room lighting. If a change is detected, the software will automatically adjust the luminance, or brightness of your screen to compensate for the change. Itís important to note that Huey is only adjusting the brightness of your display and not the color balance. For significant changes in your environment, Iíd recommend running a full calibration and creating a new profile for your system.

New to the Pro model is the ability to calibrate multiple displays. Where the original Huey could only calibrate a single display on your system, the Pro version handles dual displays with ease. The LCD calibration routines have also been enhanced giving laptop and flat panel users better shadow and highlight detail than the previous version offered.

Another feature that some will find useful is the ability to change your color temperature and gamma settings on the fly through the Huey Preferences control (Figure 6 below). Here you can also control the frequency of ambient light checks (or turn it on and off altogether), as well as how often the software will remind you to recalibrate your display.

Although the entire process is simple and very easy, Pantone has extensive online help available at all time. In the help system youíll also find links to more information, such as availability of updates to the software.

Conclusion

Ratings (out of 5)
Design
4.5
Features
4
Ease-of-Use
5
Value for Money
4

Pantone took a good product and made some important changes with the Huey Pro. The original version is still available, but I recommend the Pro model for the higher quality profiles and multiple monitor support. Current Huey owners can upgrade for about $40. There are other options available, such as the ColorVision Spyder lineup, and the X-Rite EyeOne Display, but itís hard to beat the Huey Pro for ease of use and features. This is my standard monitor calibration solution when traveling with a laptop as I find myself frequently working in different lighting conditions, and I appreciate the tiny size of the device. The bottom line is that if youíre considering monitor calibration devices (and you should be if you are at all serious about your image quality), then the Huey Pro should be high on your list of options.

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