Okay, I did my first calibration with the the new software last night. It took me about 39 minutes according to the program data. I have the H78DC3 projector and a 106" Da-Lite High Power screen. My source was my HTPC using DVI and HDMI cables/adapters/switcher and extender.
Here's what you get in the box:
1 SpyderTV Colorimeter including filter and USB cable with a weighted disc
1 Suction cup/tripod attachment
1 plastic storage case
1 SpyderTVPro software CD
1 Spyder2Pro software CD
1 SpyderTV Test Patterns and Instructions NTSC DVD
1 SpyderTV Test Patterns and Instructions PAL/SECAM DVD
1 SpyderTV Quick Start Guide
1 'Which software should I use?' explanatory sheet
1 Spyder2Pro Installation Guide
1 Warranty Card
1 Envelope in which to store all of the discs and papers
I loaded the software onto both my HTPC (for when I calibrate my Oppo DVD player) and my wife's (thanks Honey!) laptop which I used last night to do the measurements from the HTPC. The colorimeter was placed about a foot in front of the screen and about a third of the way up from the bottom of the screen, facing upwards at about a 45 degree angle aimed at the center of the screen.
I used a USB cable extension so that I could sit on the couch and this was plugged into the laptop. I have a Gyration Ultra cordless mouse which I used from the couch to control the DVD test patterns disc which was in the HTPC.
The software doesn't have provisions for every adjustment that you might find on your display device. For instance, the different gamma settings that I can use on my projector aren't used by this software. So I knew from past experience and reading that my projector and indeed basically all of the H7x series units seem best set at Gamma TV Cinema 1. I used TV as opposed to either one of Film, or Video. I also had the choice of Cinema, Normal and Vivid. The software recommends that you initially set the display device to Normal or it's equivalent. This is what I did. I intend to re-do the calibration using Cinema at a future date.
The 1 corresponds to warm. 2 is medium and 3 is cool. SpyderTVPro does allow this measurement to be taken and adjusted.
The SpyderTVPro software appears to be SpyderTV software with some additions like a calibration timeline at the bottom whereby you can jump to different pages if you need to go back and check something. It also has RGB contrast and RGB brightness measurements which are labelled gains and cuts respectively. You can print out a document which outlines the calibration measurements with graphs.
The software guides you along the way. You start by selecting your display device and there are check boxes for everything from CRT to Front Projection. Then you record your current settings and you can de-select any boxes which don't apply to you. In my case I de-selected the Color and Tint boxes because I'm using DVI/HDMI and they aren't available on my Optoma projector when using these cables. You have to tell the software what your current settings are and also the minimum and maximum values. The Color Temperature Pre-Set Editor allows you to adjust the default names of Warm, Medium and Cool to another name which more closely matches your display device or to add, delete or change the order of these entries.
Now the software does a 'Before Analysis' measurement to determine the color and luminance values of black and white test patterns which it uses to characterize the initial state of your TV. Data obtained in this step is used during the calibration process and in final reporting.
Next, SpyderTVPro measures the actual color temperature of a white test pattern for each of the presets available on your TV. It then calculates which preset is the closest to the 6500K standard then displays this answer to you.
Then, SpyderTVPro determines the optimum brightness setting for your TV by measuring a black test pattern at multiple brightness slider settings. SpyderTVPro will take about 7 measurements after which it calculates the optimum brightness setting for your TV and displays the answer to you. You then set your brightness slider to the recommended setting.
Now SpyderTVPro determines the optimum Contrast setting for your TV by measuring a white test pattern at multiple contrast slider settings. The procedure is the same as when measuring the brightness, and the software will then take about 7 measurements after which it calculates the optimum contrast setting for your TV and displays the answer to you. Again, you just set your contrast slider to the recommended setting.
Next, the software determines how to adjust your display's Red, Green and Blue GAINS by measuring a GRAY test pattern and showing you the relative percentages that each color will need to be adjusted to reach the target. Once you have made the appropriate adjustments to your Red, Green and Blue gains, click "Next" to perform a new measurement. If your display is still outside the tolerance range, SpyderTV Pro will recalculate the adjustments you will need to make, and you will need to readjust your display.
If you have adjusted the settings correctly, and all three colors are within the tolerance, SpyderTV Pro will move on to adjusting the low end of the gray scale or, if your entire grayscale sequence is complete, will inform you that you are done. If both the high and low end of the gray scale are correct at the same time, with no adjustment of settings necessary, the Wizard will move on to the step after the gray scale adjustments, and you will be finished with this step.
Now SpyderTVPro determines how to adjust your displays Red, Green and Blue CUTS. The method is the same as with the GAINS procedure only this time measuring a DARK GRAY test pattern and showing you the relative percentages that each color will need to be adjusted to reach the target.
At this point, since I didn't have Color and Tint measurements to take, the program enters the final stages and SpyderTVPro measures BLACK and WHITE test patterns to characterize the state of your television AFTER calibration. Data obtained in this step is used for comparison versus the initial state of your TV and in final reporting.
Then we come to the SUMMARY screen which reports both your initial settings and optimized settings for each of the TV controls you adjusted in the calibration process. This screen also provides graphs for each of the controls you optimized. The SpyderTVPro report also recommends a date for your next calibration which is set to 6 months.
Now we come to the BEFORE and AFTER IMAGE ANALYSIS page. The purpose of this step is to view VISUAL IMAGES for BRIGHTNESS, CONTRAST, COLOR and TINT while you adjust the appropriate slider controls above and below the optimized settings that SpyderTVPro recommended. This will give you an idea of how far out you were prior to running the software and what those settings you previously used would look like now as compared to the properly calibrated ones. Using photos this allows you to see what shadow detail you've gained and what extraneous detail you've lost.
I have up until now been playing with a Spyder2Express colorimeter and the Calman software. Using that combination, through many hours of settings adjustments, I dialed in my parameters to be very close to the settings that SpyderTVPro recommended. Here are the values that I settled on with Spyder/Calman: RGB Contrast 12 -7 0, RGB Brightness -13 -1 -2. Contrast 9 Brightness -5 Warm (1) Color setting
Here are the settings that SpyderTVPro determined would give me the most accuracy. RGB Contrast 11 -3 -2, RGB Brightness -13 1 0. Contrast 11 Brightness -4 Warm (1) Color setting
As you can see, the changes weren't drastic. However this is on paper. In reality the differences were HUGE. I thought that I had by using the Spyder/Calman package, attained just about the best images possible with my projector and they were indeed NICE! A BIG improvement from just using AVIA or eyeballing. But I've learned that a simple click or two in one direction or the other with the Cuts and Gains can either improve or throw off the picture in a greater measure than the numbers would seem to indicate. Using the Spyder/Calman method, the graphs all looked very good and I was happy with the betterment of the overall images.
But I must say that I was overwhelmingly floored at what I saw on my screen post calibration using SpyderTVPro. I've never seen such natural and even skin tones on any display device ever. I sat there mesmerized. Faces that had previously been overly red or unevenly toned were basically perfect now. I had a hard time shutting the system down and going to bed. Slight tinges of green in gray beards and hair were totally eliminated.
Now I want to watch all of my movies over again! So let me say this about the Spyder/Calman way of doing things. If you have the time and interest, you will learn a whole lot about the way your display device responds to settings adjustments. It can be a challenge but a fun one to accomplish a proper calibration with Calman. All of the graphs contribute to showing you where you are and hinting at what you possibly should do to attain nirvana. The Primaries and Secondaries as well as ANSI Contrast measurement tools are quite interesting and there is definitely a place in the calibration world for this Tool. Not to mention that the cost of an inexpensive colorimeter such as the Express coupled with Calman won't set you back much coin and you will obtain results which in my experience so far, very closely resembles those garnered by utilizing the SpyderTVPro. Bill and Derek are planning on more upgrades and I look forward to those. I still plan on playing with Calman as well as SpyderTVPro because I like the more detailed information that the Calman product gives.
If you have the money and don't have a lot of time, patience or interest in calibrating your display, then this SpyderTVPro is the product for you. I love it. It's extremely easy to use. To my surprise, I didn't even have to re-adjust the contrast or brightness settings after the calibration. I was sure I'd have to tweak it a bit but I checked with AVIA and those measurements were dead on. I also have the Monster/ISF disc and find it invaluable when checking contrast.
One other thing; the SpyderTVPro software seemed to struggle just a little bit with my High Power Screen. Not a problem but I noticed that it found it a challenge to nail the contrast and brightness settings. It may have taken a tad longer to do this but it eventually calculated the proper settings.
I hope this helps those who may be thinking of purchasing either Calman, SpyderTVPro, or both as I've done.
I have relied on the help function of the SpyderTVPro software to assist me in writing this review.