The central part of any great home entertainment system is the display. We spend a great deal of money on display technology but how much effort do we make to ensure that the display is properly calibrated? I know when I originally bought my TV, and a couple times since, I used the THX calibration disc available in some movie cases but it is a completely subjective calibration and I don’t trust my eyes that much. This is where Datacolor steps in with the Spyder4TV HD home theater calibration system.
The Spyder4TV HD provides a color sensor, known as a colorimeter, and a set of video discs for BluRay, DVD – NTSC, and DVD – PAL. When you open up the packaging, you find a very clear quick-start guide, the discs, the colorimeter, a bungee system to attach the colorimeter to the TV, and computer software. The calibration process works by coordinating manual changes to the TV’s settings with data returned via a USB connection from the colorimeter to your computer.
The calibration process took me about an hour. It isn’t a quick process, moving through the steps on your computer, changing chapters on the disc for different calibration patterns, and changing settings on your display. As tedious as it can be, you quickly realize how much data the system is collecting as it plots out calibration points on the different setting curves. Once your settings are all dialed in, the discs also include some test images and encourage you to work your settings for before and after visualizations.
I have to say, the change in my screen was surprising. The images look noticeably better, the colors are more vibrant, and the darks, one of the more tricky display settings, are darker. The Spyder4TV HD is available for $124 from Amazon. This may seem like a lot, but chances are that if you have a home theater system you’re serious about you spent a lot of money already. I know I am happier with the knowledge that for all that money spent, I am seeing everything in the best picture possible for my system.