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Review: MonacoOptixXR Pro Edition

(August 2005) posted on Fri Aug 05, 2005


By Patricia Houston

The included instructions are basic
and straightforward. The package contains:
the software installation CD; the
MonacoOptixXR colorimeter, which is the
profiling and calibration device on a USB
cable; a counterweight, to keep the instrument
from moving when profiling CRT and
LCD monitors; and a suction cup to be used
if you're profiling hooded CRT monitors.

After installing the software, you're
ready to begin the initial monitor profiling.
You first thread the counterweight along
the USB cord (it slides freely to adjust to
different monitor sizes), and then plug
the cable into an available USB port.

Now it's time to launch the software
and follow the on-screen wizard instructions
to create a Monitor Profile. Tip: Prior to
launching the software, you should be
comfortable with and knowledgeable
about your monitor and its settings.
Because my monitor was new, I was not
yet well enough acquainted with it; as a
result, I had to go back several times and
start over until I understood how to change
all the settings (fourth time was a charm).

The interface guides you through
exactly what to do with your monitor's
settings, and where to place the calibration
device on the screen. The whole
process probably took me about 15 minutes,
until I arrived at the last step, where
I was prompted to save my profile. The
profile is saved to the appropriate system
directory, and becomes the default profile
for the monitor unless you manually
change it.

Two additional points here:

  • After the first few screens, I learned
    that I needed to position the monitor profile
    dialog box at another position on my desktop,
    because the box kept interfering with
    my progress.
  • How often should the profiles be updated
    to maintain the accuracy? According to
    Steve Rankin, product marketing manager
    for X-Rite's Printing and Imaging division,
    that "depends on the user's expectations of
    the profile. Once a week is the short
    answer."

Additional features

If the MonacoOPTIXXR Pro Edition stopped
there, it would still be a fine tool. It
brings some additional features to the
profiling table, however, that truly boost
its value to a production environment.

After the initial profile has been created,
you can use tools provided in the
software to determine and correct
"monitor drift." The Evaluate Monitor
Profile function compares current
measurements against your previously
saved (default) settings to determine
any drift, then tracks them using the
Monitor Color Trends tool. The Monitor
Color Trends feature graphs the Delta E
values in whatever timeframe you
choose; if you see that the trend is moderately
drifting, you can then recalibrate
to bring the monitor back in line. In addition,
there's a nice preference to remind
you"?at whatever interval you choose"?
that your prof i les have not been
updated (mine, for instance, reminds
me every 7 days).

Another handy feature is the Match
Monitor Profiles queue, which is used in
a multi-person workflow to achieve
desired results across a number of workstations.
In our case, we save each workstation
with its own unique profile name,
load them all into the Match Profiles
queue, and let it work its magic to create
a new profile that accommodates the
luminance value of all users. Because
we work with in-house scanning and
color correction before going to creative,
this helps to ensure consistency in the
viewing and output process.

Taking control

We couldn't be happier with the results
and ease with which we implemented the
MonacoOptixXR Pro Edition. With it, we have
been able to take better control of our
processes, and have a better understanding
of the results to be expected from start
to finish in a production environment. It
would be well worth the investment for
any production-oriented operation.

Price on the MonacoOptixXR Pro: $379;
for workgroups (one license covers all
monitors). Also available is the standard
MonacoOptixXR edition, for $249 (does not
provide monitor-profile validation, monitor-
drift trending, workgroup display
matching, calibration-curve editing, or
advanced mode). (X-rite: www.xrite.com)

Patricia Houston manages the production
department at ST Media Group, which
publishes
The Big Picture, and previously
served as a digital technician of R.R. Donnelley,
which prints this publication.


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