Datacolor SpyderX Pro Colorimeter Review: Advanced Monitor Calibration

Manufacturer: datacolor Datacolor SpyderX Pro Colorimeter Review: Advanced Monitor Calibration

A lot of love and attention is being given to the lights on motherboards, GPUs, memory and enclosures but what about the most important RGBs on your computer, your displays?  When you shop for a monitor you research the capabilities, such as resolution, dynamic refresh rates and brightness and quite possibly even colour gamut but how can you know you are getting the best performance out of your display just with a few clicks in the OSD options panel?

The tool you need to properly measure and tweak your display is a colourimeter, which measures ambient light as well as calibrating your monitor profile to match proper colour representation to the best of your monitors ability.  For some developers and creative designers, knowing the exact CMYK or HTML value of a colour is enough to guarantee their design is perfect but for many of us, on both sides of the screen, we want to see the proper colours and not just know they should be right.

Datacolor have been in the business of perfecting colour since 1970, and the Spyder has been their monitor calibration product line for a very long time.  Their newest is the Spyder X family, the Spyder X Elite and the Spyder X Pro which we will be looking at.

Product Specifications
  • Model Number: Spyder X Pro
  • Compatibility:
    • Windows 7 32/64 and above
    • Mac OS X 10.10 and above
  • Connectivity:
    • USB 1.1, USB 2.x and USB 3.x USB A plug,
    • Compatible with USB A>C adapters for use in USB C ports
    • Do not connect through a hub, use direct connection
  • Supported Display Technologies
    • All modern types of backlit displays
    • Digital projectors – Spyder X Elite Only
  • Measurement Results
    • sRGB
    • NTSC
    • AdobeRGB
    • P3
Manufacturer Description

“For serious photographers and designers who want a fast, precise and easy-to-use monitor calibrator that helps achieve their creative vision. Includes Spyder X Sensor, Welcome Card with links to download software, user guides, video demonstrations, warranty information and support.

With SpyderX, you can be sure that what you see on screen is the most accurate representation of the shot you took. When you start editing and you know the color on your monitor is accurate, you can confidently control every aspect of your image. And when it’s time to print, your output will match what you are seeing on screen and better reflect your creative vision.”

Setting Up The Spyder X Pro

Installing the software is as easy as visiting the site listed on the card contained in the package and entering the code provided with the Spyder, thankfully Datacolor has chosen not to include a CD with outdated drivers.  There are a few initial steps before strapping on your Spyder X and are worth following.

Now we are ready to remove the protective cover, which also acts as the counterweight and reveal the lens and sensor.  Slide the plastic cover down the USB cable until it will hang behind your monitor and balance the weight of the sensor and position it as directed.  As the Spyder X Pro does not have suction cups like some colourimeters such as the Huey you may find it beneficial to tilt your monitor back a bit to get a good fit to your display.

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Sit Back And Enjoy The Lightshow

The first part of the calibration process is interactive, as the Spyder Pro X starts by measuring the brightness of your room and your display and gives you a target to hit.  The target depends on your ambient lighting conditions and this set will vary depending on your own set up and hardware.

You will use your monitors OSD controls to manually adjust the brightness to get as close as you can to the target brightness given and once you have you continue onto the automated colour adjustment process, which takes just a few brief minutes to complete.

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Once the calibration is completed, not only will your colours be improved but you will also know a lot more about your monitor’s capabilities.   You will now have measurements on just how much of the the full range of four different colour gamuts your monitor is capable of reproducing.

A Colourful Conclusion

Just as with HDR displays, where you can’t really post the highlights that the feature offers, one cannot show you how colour looks on a well adjusted display.  If you look below you should be able to make out differences between the uncalibrated and calibrated images below, but likely not the same way they are in reality.

If, however, you cannot see any difference whatsoever then perhaps it is time you considered looking into a colourimeter of some description!  The Spyder X Pro is one you should consider as it and previous models from Datacolor have been mainstays for monitor reviews for quite a while now.

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A colourimeter of any description is a bit of an investment and there are many cases in which the cost does not justify the results, but there are definite advantages to having a properly calibrated display.  Getting the colours displayed properly in your favourite games, such as that Skyrim installation you finally managed to get 15 mods stacked up and running properly can really enhance your immersion, this type of accuracy is not just for professional developers.

Streamers who find their broadcasts are just a bit off of what they wanted might also find it worth investing in a Spyder X Pro, if your monitors colours are off then no matter how much you tweak your camera you won’t ever look exactly right as you are starting from an incorrect baseline and it will enhance the quality of your game as well. 

The Spyder X Pro and Elite are not for everyone, but for anyone who shares their content online for fun or for profit, a colourimeter is a tool to help you stand out in a crowded field. 

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About The Author

Jeremy Hellstrom

Call it K7M.com, AMDMB.com, or PC Perspective, Jeremy has been hanging out and then working with the gang here for years. Apart from the front page you might find him on the BOINC Forums or possibly the Fraggin' Frogs if he has the time.

2 Comments

  1. BigTed

    Enjoyed the review Jeremy. Could I ask if you calibrated a multi monitor setup? If so, was colour output identical after calibration between the two monitors?

    • Jeremy Hellstrom

      I have three displays, and dragging the calibrated view across all three showed the same colour. As far as I can tell their claim to handle multi-monitor support is absolutely correct. I haven’t checked with different models, I suspect that you won’t be able to match completely different makes and models as they will not have the same colour gamuts.

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