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Datacolor Spyder 4 Express review

Barry de la Rosa
13 Mar 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
89
inc VAT

An easy and good value way to get the most out of your screen, but the iPad feature is less useful

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Specifications

A colorimeter is a device that's used to test the output of a monitor so you can tune it for the best colour and contrast settings (see FAQ). The Datacolor Spyder4Express is a colorimeter with colour calibration software, and the least expensive package in Datacolor's Spyder line.

A quick-start guide in the box guides you through the initial setup - you have to install the drivers and software before attaching the USB device. Once the software is set up, you're prompted to place the device on the screen, which is achieved by hanging it over the top edge of the display, using the attached counter-balance to keep it in position - the counter-balance can be moved up and down the USB cable, so you can adjust it accordingly.

Datacolor Spyder 4 Express

It's important to ensure the Spyder device is flush with the LCD panel for testing - you can do this by tilting the screen back slightly so its weight keeps it flat against the screen. The setup procedure asks for a few more details, and then it starts the process of running through its tests.

Unlike the more advanced Spyder4 packages, you can't set a target gamma or colour temperature - the Express model is fixed to a target gamma of 2.2 and a 6500K colour temperature - 6500K is the reference white point in the sRGB colour space, and 2.2 the approximate gamma for sRGB. You also don't get a detailed report at the end telling you how close the monitor matches each individual colour; instead, you get a simple colour gamut display with your monitor's percentage match to three standards: sRGB, NTSC and Adobe RGB.

Once the automatic calibration process is over, which takes less than five minutes, you're presented with a series of preview pictures and the option to switch between pre- and post-calibration settings, in order to see how well the calibration process has worked. There are a wide variety of image types, including black and white, flesh tones and primary colours, which give you a good idea of what changes the calibration process has made.

Datacolor Spyder 4 Express calibrating

After that, the software saves a Windows colour profile and sets it as the default. The Spyder4Express doesn’t support multiple monitor calibration by default, but there is a way around it. You need to run the calibration on one monitor, find the saved profile and rename it, then run the calibration on the second screen. You then need to uninstall the Spyder4Express software and use Windows' own calibration program to load the separate profiles for each monitor. We found we managed to get an almost identical picture on two screens from different manufacturers with this method.

A free iOS app is also available for iPad and iPhone users. This requires Windows or Mac software to work, but the download is only available by giving Datacolor your email address from within the iPad app itself. While the iPad calibration process did produce better colours, it also lost detail in some photos. It also doesn't make any changes to the iPad itself - to view photos using the new calibration, you have to view them from within Datacolor's own viewer, so it's not much good to use with iPad graphics apps.

IPS panels such as in the AOC i2352Vh, are capable of producing highly accurate colours, so it makes sense to invest in the Spyder4Express to get the most out of your screen. It's an excellent way to calibrate your display, and if you want target gamma and colour options and official support for multiple monitor calibration, you should go for the Spyder4Pro, which is around £30 extra.

Details

Price£89
Rating*****

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