Review: PANTONE huey

Color Correct Your Monitor and Watch Your Photos Spark (September 7th, 2006)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: PANTONE (with GretagMacbeth)

Price: $89.00 US

The Good

  • Simple to install and use. Inexpensive. Finally view color correctly on your Mac. Requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later.

The Bad

  • More explanatory information on contrast and warm or cold color sets is needed. A travel bag would be a good accessory to include. The stand is easy to tip over.

As more of us delve deeper into the world of digital photography, we become print masters and color editors. Often our photo prints don't match what we see on screen, nor do they look as vibrant as we'd like. My soccer photo prints often looked washed out no matter how much I edited them in Photoshop. The problem was the color displayed on the monitor, not the editing, nor the printers, but the solution wasn't evident until I color calibrated my Mac monitors with the PANTONE huey. Correct color doesn't just affect your printed photos, it also affects the products you choose to purchase off of web pages, how games display, and any graphics you use in brochures.

Meet the huey

The PANTONE huey monitor management system is perfect for cost conscious consumers. Unlike the hugely expensive monitor calibration systems of days past, the huey is under $90. Even though you can create custom ColorSync Profiles in the Displays System Preference, it does not come close to the correction you can achieve with the PANTONE huey. The huey also corrects your display automatically for your room lighting, so you don't have to depend on your own visual perceptions to determine appropriate color. Sometimes free is not better.

How It Works

The PANTONE huey comes with Klear Screen monitor cleaning products to clean your screen first, so that the huey sensor can stick on the monitor. After cleaning, you plug the tiny colorimeter into your USB port and the software walks you through the calibration process. It also installs a menu bar status icon. Eight tiny suction cups hold the sensor up for the needed seconds while it measures the room light and corrects color. The status icon provides immediate access to turn off the room lighting compensation, adjust for room light now, or to open the Preference Pane. You can continuously monitor the room's light and make adjustments while you work.

The huey is small and delicate, so they provide a stand to hold it upright. If you don't use a PowerBook or MacBook, you might want to stick a Velcro tab on the bottom and on your desk, so it doesn't tip over. I wish it had heavier stand. Although the sensor won't damage your monitor, it did leave little round marks I had to wipe away. The device is so light, it's easy to carry with you on the road, but you need to supply a protective travel bag.

In the Preference pane, you adjust the Room Light Monitoring frequency, while the Color Settings provide you with nine different options. While most of us only need to choose the corrections for Gaming, Web Browsing & Photo Editing, or Graphic Design & Video Editing, the other settings let you choose warmer or cooler colors in low, medium, or high contrast. You don't need to be a color expert to achieve accurate on-screen color.

Wonky Color Ruins Photos

Previously I edited my photos with Adobe Photoshop on my G4 desktop with a LaCie Electron 19-inch, conventional CRT monitor. Washed out prints were a big problem and the color blue dominated most of my photos. When I printed some photos captured with a Kodak V610 camera on Kodak's EasyShare printer dock plus series 3 I saw a significant color difference. The colors were vibrant and crisp. Later I viewed these same shots on my monitor, but they looked washed out. That's when I realized that it wasn't my photos, but how I viewed them that was the problem. I didn't realize how poorly my PowerBook displayed color until I read a color tutorial on Lynda.com. The instructor requested I look at the green square, but I only saw blue squares. There and then, I decided to try the huey.

PowerBook color  PowerBook color corrected
Uncorrected Screen Corrected Screen
Background is Aqua Graphite - Gray Not Blue!

After calibration, I found my monitors no longer had a blue and metallic cast (the PowerBook), nor a red cast (the LaCie). Oranges and browns looked warmer and more real, and all of the secondary colors looked better. In the pictures above you can see how off my PowerBook display was at one point. It's amazing I ever printed any decent looking photos. I spent countless hours color editing, when I needed a monitor color calibration tool. The bottom line is, if you want to edit your photographs, you need to calibrate your monitor, and the PANTONE huey is the best and most cost-effective solution.

Additional Learning Resources

If you want to learn more about color, PANTONE has a variety of articles sprinkled throughout their site that are informative and entertaining. You can view part of the excellent color tutorial by Bruce Heavin on Lynda.com for free (or purchase a Premium Membership).

Mike Swope, a contributing reviewer on MacNN, has also independently reviewed the PANTONE® hueytm on the Mac Companion site.

by ilene hoffman, Reviews Editor


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