Sunday, February 22, 2009

True colors of Pantone

For anyone who does print design work…

I got myself a Pantone Huey the other day. Pretty cool device. Takes about two minutes to color-calibrate your monitor automatically (rather than by trying to decide when two squares match, by eye, using the Adobe Gamma tool).

If you’re thinking about buying it yourself, these notes may be helpful.
  1. The price listed on the above page is $89. If you call 1-866-PANTONE and just order it over the phone (no special deal), the price is $69 (plus shipping). On the website, you can’t even place the order until you “become a member” (member of what? Dunno. It doesn’t say). If you do that, maybe the price drops online, too, but I just ordered on the phone instead. Fast. Easy. Knowledgeable customer service rep to take the order (can’t say that about a lot of companies anymore). And I didn’t have to join a club I didn’t want to be a member of.
  2. There’s a Pro model for more money. However (as I learned from the CSR), you can order the regular $69 device and then, if you decide you’d rather have the Pro model, you can just download the Pro software upgrade later. What you pay for the software upgrade brings the total price to exactly what it would be if you bought that model in the first place. It’s a wash, in other words, and if you end up not needing the Pro model, you’ve saved some bucks.
  3. I have a two-monitor setup. It turns out that the base model can only calibrate one monitor. The Pro model can handle multiple monitors. Okay, fine, but I really only need calibrated color on my main monitor, and I’m a cheapskate.
  4. True to its name, the device calibrates hue. I guess it does saturation okay, too. But it doesn’t really do brilliance. I’m working on a book cover with a dark forest green background (color picked from a Pantone Process swatch book) and, both before and after calibration with the Huey, it looks a lot brighter on screen. There is no adjustment I’ve found that will render that deep a color accurately and still have the screen bright enough to read email without eyestrain.

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