Pantone huey

The first step in managing color is to calibrate and profile your monitor to ensure that it displays color accurately and consistently. Until now, that’s been a headache for amateur photographers and other non-professionals who want to avoid the cost and learning curve associated with high-end calibration systems. Now, along comes Pantone’s huey , a small, portable USB device designed for consumers that takes the pain and expense out of calibrating and profiling both LCD and CRT monitors.

Quick and easy to use

Huey’s main attraction is that it’s easy to use. Set up is a breeze. Just install the accompanying software, plug huey into a USB port on your computer, and launch the software, which walks you step-by-step through a simplified process of calibrating and profiling your monitor.

During calibration, huey measures the ambient room light, determines the way your monitor displays color, and adjusts the monitor to standard settings—all in a matter of minutes. Optimize these adjustments for the tasks you perform most often, choosing from presets like Web Browsing and Photo Editing, Graphic Design and Video Editing, or Gaming. These settings adjust your monitor’s white point and gamma behind the scenes. For example, the Web Browsing and Photo Editing preset automatically sets the white point to 6500° Kelvin and the gamma to 2.2.

Huey then creates a monitor profile describing the corrected settings and stores the profile in a location that is automatically accessible by the Mac OS X operating system and color managed applications like Adobe Photoshop.

Accurate lighting

After the initial calibration process, you can use huey to continually adjust your monitor to account for variations in ambient light. This assures that the colors you see on screen appear consistent regardless of time of day or room lighting. This feature is a pleasant surprise in a consumer-level device. Huey’s monitor adjustments for variations in ambient light don’t happen automatically, though. You have to set huey in its cradle and keep it plugged into your USB port.

I calibrated and profiled LCD monitors on two G4 PowerBooks, and was impressed by the consistency of color in side-by-side comparisons of the same Adobe Photoshop image open on the two monitors. Huey also produced life-like colors on a CRT monitor.I found that calibrating with huey opened up dark areas revealing more shadow detail, rendered flesh tones relatively neutral, and did not introduce banding into grayscale gradients.

Help needed

Huey’s documentation is minimal: The QuickStart Guide that comes with the product is barebones, and the on-screen instructions and hints focus only on guiding you through the initial calibration process. I think huey users would benefit from more information about the settings available in huey’s Preferences window, how huey fits into a full color management workflow, and what white point and gamma settings are associated with each of huey’s color setting options.

Pantone does offer some of this information on its Web site, but it is not easy to find. For a list of huey-related topics, go to www.askpantone.com and choose Color Control from the Product menu. Free tech support is also available by phone.

Macworld’s buying advice

Pantone’s huey is a good product for photography hobbyists who are just getting started in color management. It is affordable, easy to use, and fast. Its ability to continually adjust a monitor for changes in room lighting make it even more attractive.

[ Jan Kabili is a Photoshop author and trainer. Her latest book is How to Wow: Photoshop CS2 for the Web (Peachpit Press, 2005). ]

Huey’s interface is intuitive, with easy-to-follow instructions and hints.

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