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The same colorimeter comes with both options—only the software is different.
Color experts are aware that the average Joe isn’t cuckoo for color theory, but we’d all like to depend on the consistency of a calibrated, profiled display. The X-Rite i1Display does an impressive job of attending to the needs of both enthusiasts and pros, depending on the software package selected.
X-Rite provides two options, known as i1Display LT and i1Display 2. Both use the same colorimeter, which is the hardware device that measures the characteristics of a display. Both products include the same software, i1Match. The only difference (aside from $80) is that i1Display LT offers only the “easy” profiling option, meaning a wizard guides you through the process and offers few opportunities to fine-tune the parameters. The i1Display 2 has an “advanced” option containing a host of custom calibration targets.
If you don’t want to learn about white point settings (how warm or cool the display’s whites—and by extension all colors—will be) or gamma (the contrast of the midtones), the automated process is a boon. But the problem with so-called calibration wizards is that their restricted options can produce unsatisfactory results, especially on the low- and midrange displays often used by nonprofessionals. Fortunately, the algorithm utilized by i1Match is an impressive one, and in our tests on a number of displays, the wizard’s magic was commendable.
The LT version limits white point selection to one of three predefined options (5000K, 6500K, or native) and gamma to one of two (1.8 or 2.2). A luminance (brightness) target isn’t user-selectable. But in our tests, only a stubbornly misbehaving 12-inch PowerBook G4 display resisted satisfactory calibration.
The i1Display 2, on the other hand, allows complete customization of every target, including white point, gamma, and luminance, and provides a user-friendly interface for adjusting hardware settings (brightness, contrast, and RGB values) during the calibration process. Both native white points and native gamma settings may be selected—which is what did the trick for that stubborn PowerBook.
The calibration results of both Easy and Advanced modes yielded excellent shadow detail, a notable difference from other tools we’ve used. And the colorimeter is able to take ambient light readings in both Easy and Advanced modes.
The i1Display LT offers an upgrade option for unleashing the power and flexibility of the i1Display 2’s advanced options. The i1Display2, in turn, offers an upgrade option to the i1Pro series, which features a spectrometer (as opposed to a colorimeter), a professional-quality device that allows profiling and calibration of not just the display, but also scanners, printers, and digital cameras.
The bottom line. While the i1Display 2 option is necessary for anyone performing truly color-critical tasks—or needing to match multiple monitors—the i1Display LT provides impressive results given its limitations.
PRICE: $169 (i1Display LT), $249 (i1Display 2)
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.3.9 or later (Leopard not officially supported but worked in our testing), display resolution of 1024x768 or higher, USB
Good quality/price ratio. Calibration algorithms tuned to reveal shadow detail. Ambient-light-reading option built-in. Native white point and gamma options in Advanced mode.
A printable user’s manual would be helpful. Some software features aren’t explained.