X-rite i1Display 2

Color management starts with your monitor, and if it isn't correctly calibrated there is little if any chance of color being displayed accurately. Therefore, the key to obtaining color accuracy and consistency across applications and systems is to use a good quality hardware device to measure the light emitted from the display. This review discusses x-rite i1Display colorimeter along with the supporting i1Match software.

i1Display 2 Hardware

i1Display, which I reviewed in 2004 included a pretty good colorimeter along with a slightly limited software application. In general, it lacked many of the elements users now demand from monitor calibration and profiling packages (i.e. speed, DDC compliance, and ambient light measurement). However, with the introduction of the i1Display 2 colorimeter x-rite (formerly GretagMacbeth) significantly increased the speed of the calibration process without compromising quality, and they also managed to include the ability to measure both ambient light luminosity and color temperature. The hardware is essentially the same in appearance, but an enhanced light measuring sensor provides much better repeatability, which translates into more consistent calibration. The sensor is also much more sensitive, which makes for better control of shadow detail and thus more neutral greyscales can be obtained across a wider range of tones.

As mentioned above, the i1Display 2 colorimeter is virtually identical in appearance to the original. It's still a low powered USB device, which means that Apple computer users can connect it directly to the keyboard or display USB ports. The same slim counterweight, which is clipped onto the cable has been retained. The device itself is easy use with any LCD panel or CRT monitors, but the counterweight tends to fall off far too often for my liking. A detachable ambient light head is provided that will enable the user to capture ambient light measurements. The ambient light head also serves as a dust protector for the i1Display 2.

When you need to profile a monitor with a hood it's simply a matter of using the built-in suction cups to attach the device directly to the monitor. When I first saw the original i1Display 2 device I was immediately wary of these suction cups, especially when attaching it to my original Apple Cinema HD Display. However, my concerns were ill-founded. This latest version uses a virtually identical arrangement, so I don't expect any problems with LCD or LED monitors.

i1Match 3 Software

With the introduction of i1Match 3.6 x-rite has made further improvements to user interface (UI) and feature set. The UI was designed to be simple and it certainly seems to have produced less critical feedback than earlier versions. The easy to follow on-screen help (called strings) is designed to guide the user through the process of calibrating and profiling your monitor. i1Match 3.6 also expands on the number of monitors supported by "One Push Button Monitor Calibration" (PBC) support. Typically, these are DDC enabled LCD's whereby the software can automatically control the calibration process. The following is a summary of summary of new features along with a comprehensive list of supported monitors.

Whatís new in i1Match 3.6?

You can create profiles according to the ICC 2 (default) or ICC 4 specification. This feature is only accessible via the options menu in the application.

Monitor module in general.
Before and after calibration step added. User feedback during the recognition phase of the Push Button Calibration check. After your calibration you can check how the monitor looked before the calibration. The following is a list of supported monitors for the Push Button Calibration:

  • Eizo CG 18

  • Eizo CG 19

  • Eizo CG 21

  • Eizo CG 210

  • Eizo CG 220

  • Hewlett Packard P1230

  • IBM P275

  • LaCie Electron 22b4

  • LaCie Electron 22b3

  • LaCie Electron 19b4

  • LaCie Electron 19b3

  • NEC LCD2060NX

  • NEC FP1375NX

  • NEC FP2141SB

  • Sony SDM S205F/K

Other features:

  • Updated gamma selection

  • Choose a gamma from 1.0 Ė 3.0

  • Choose native gamma
    Updated target luminance dialog

  • Measure your target luminance on a white patch on a different monitor

Note: the screenshot below shows that i1Match also includes modules for profiling electronic projectors, scanners, digital cameras and printers. It also shows the module for editing printer profiles. These modules will only be activated when the user purchases the upgrade codes and the i1Pro spectrophotometer.


Figure 1

The  "Easy" mode provides predefined settings and automated processes for users who are new to color management or who donít want to develop customised settings. The "Easy" mode also removes the need for the user to select the target White Point and Gamma values by using preset values common to the Mac and PC platforms. Personally I think it produces lower quality profiles and an over bright monitor.


Figure 2

Like its predecessor i1Display 2  can only  is used for calibration and profiling of CRT and LCD monitors. However, not before time, x-rite have also included the option for native gamma. This is a welcome and very necessary addition to i1Match, which will come in particularly useful for users who specialise in Black & White images.


Figure 3

"Advanced" mode (figure 3) gives experienced users access to customised settings for the best possible results. These include alternative white point and gamma values. The "native white point" option leaves the white point of the display as is which is an essential perquisite when profiling LCD type displays. It's also possible to set your preferred luminance value. The default value for LCDs is now 120cd/m2, which is a lot more useable than 140 (previous default).


Figure 4

"Advanced" also provides support for checking the "ambient light" light within your monitor workplace (figure 4). Ideally, the lighting within the workplace should be set up to meet the ISO norm for Graphic Technology and Photography, although it may not be possible to achieve a perfect match. There are actually two norms, one for editing the image independently of the printed output and an other for editing whilst directly comparing to printed output. i1Match uses the former.  The screen shot shown above shows the ambient conditions within my workplace, which is pretty close to ideal.


Figure 5

Positioning the i1Display 2 colorimeter onto the monitor doesn't require any additional supports or add-ons. Depending upon the type of display that was chosen earlier i1Match the remaining steps in profiling the monitor will differ slightly. The screenshot shown below shows  a typical step when calibrating a CRT type monitor.


Figure 6

When you click the "Start" button i1Match first goes into a routine whereby it establishes the actual position of the colorimeter. The UI then steps through a series of color changes, which are measured by the i1Display 2 device and compared to a reference file.


Figure 7

A "Quality Indicator" dialog is displayed on the screen indicating whether the contrast, brightness and color balance is correctly. The user must adjust the monitor settings so that the quality indicator for each is centred. With previous versions of i1Match the little triangle was prone to jumping around a lot, but version 3.6 seems to have eliminated the worst excesses of this.


Figure 8

The ability to carry out a quick Before and After check is a welcome addition to i1Match, as is the ability to track the drift of your display as it ages.


Figure 9

On completion the user is invited to assign a name to the newly created monitor profile. I tend to retain the date component of the auto generated name and then insert a description of my monitor (e.g. Apple Cinema Display_6-05-06). You also have the option of having the software remind you that the monitor needs calibrated again after predefined periods.


I mentioned at the outset of this review that good monitor calibration hardware and software is a prerequisite for consistent color handling across a wide range of applications and hardware systems. When the i1Display 2 was first introduced I was generally very happy with the improvements made by x-rite. Nevertheless, there were still some issues with the i1Match software that needed to addressed before it equalled the best of the rest. This latest version of i1Match (i.e. 3.6) certainly a big improvement and with it x-rite have managed to enhance the basic feature set without compromising on quality or increasing the cost. Both greyscale neutrality and smoothness of gradations have been greatly improved when using the new linear gamma option, although this is feature is probably only suitable for better quality LCDs and high end CRT type monitors. For the more usual  choice of gamma 2.2 x-rite have improved upon the smoothing algorithms, and the earlier tendency to block shadows has also been substantially eliminated. I still believe that it would be useful to be able to define an actual black level. The ability to profile laptops was also welcome addition to version 3.3, but didn't really receive the acclaim that it deserved. Likewise, "One Push Button Monitor Calibration" should have proved very useful to many users, but didn't appear to receive much coverage in any of the more widely read web sites.

i1Display 2 is Mac and PC compatible; i.e. OS X, Windows XP, Vista and 7. i1Display 2 currently costs about $249. If you have deeper pockets and a need to profile scanners, digital cameras and/or printers then take a look at upgrading to the Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer and the full i1Match 3 suite.

For more details on i1Display 2, i1Match 3.6 software you should visit the dedicated web site at http://www.x-rite.com

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