Datacolor’s line of new Spyder4 products has been available since the first of the year. But one obvious component has been missing: there has been no Spyder4-based Home Theater and Video Reference Display calibration tool. Now that remaining gap in the Spyder4 line as been filled with the release of Spyder4TV HD. I’ve been waiting less-than-patiently for this release, so that I would be able to write about this product here.
Three Types of Users
Most users of Datacolor’s SpyderTV products are calibrating their own Home Theater TVs with the product. But some users are calibrating home theaters and TVs for clients, either as part of the purchase and configuration of the system, or as a standalone service for existing Home Theaters and Office Systems. A third category of SpyderTV users is photographers and videographers who shoot video, and need to calibrate a video reference display, to be sure that the footage they are editing will look as intended once it is viewed as a video stream, rather then on a computer display. Since many photographers are now also shooting motion, the need for affordable video reference displays, and affordable ways to calibrate these displays, is growing.
What Spyder4TV HD Includes
Spyder4TV HD includes the new Spyder4 sensor, with its increased accuracy and stability over time, as well as improvements in the Spyder TV software. The addition of “HD” to the title reflects another change as well: In addition to reference discs in PAL/SECAM and NTSC formats, Spyder4TV HD now includes a Blu-ray reference disc, for calibrating Blu-ray sources. One last improvement in Spyder4TV HD, is the inclusion of the SpyderWeb; a convenient tool for supporting the Spyder on large displays such as plasma and LCD television screens.
Spyder4TV HD is used by installing the included software on a Mac or Windows laptop or computer, attaching the Spyder to the TV screen, running one of the included reference discs from the TV system’s disc player, and following the on-screen directions to adjust Brightness, Contrast, Color, Tint, and White Balance to optimal levels.
TV Calibration Versus Computer Display Calibration
One common question is whether a TV can be calibrated with Datacolor’s Spyder4Express, Pro, or Elite products. The answer is that a “TV” that is actually running as a monitor attached to a computer can be calibrated by these monitor calibration products. But that a “TV” which are not computer driven require a totally different TV calibration process, as described above. So the same display can be a video display when connected directly to a video source, or a computer display, when connected to a computer source, and will require different methods of calibration for those two sources.
Future Spyder4 Cross-grades
Datacolor plans to release a cross-grade for existing Spyder4Pro and Spyder4Elite owners supplying the video reference discs, software installer disc, and SpyderWeb, with a Spyder4TV HD serial number in a few weeks, allowing existing owners of these Spyder4 products to calibrate TVs without having to purchase a second Spyder4 device. Spyder4Express is not upgradable to Spyder4Pro, Elite, or TV HD versions, due to differences in the hardware device. So Spyder4Express owners would need to purchase the full Spyder4TV HD product, instead of the future upgrade version. The pricing of the full Spyder4TV HD package is low enough ($129US) to be tempting even to Spyder4Pro and Elite users, who might not mind having a second Spyder.
Full Product Overview, with Screen-shots
A complete product review of Datacolor Spyder products is usually posted at Northlight Images shortly after products ship. So let Keith know that you are looking for a Spyder4TV HD review, and I expect he will produce one to meet the demand. You can tell him I sent you.