3 Stars By Microdev on 1969-12-31
Works well IF you can get it to work
I've been using the ColorMunki Smile for just about two years. Most of the stellar reviews are old. In short, with a fresh Windows 10 OS, the device is not easy to get running. Those that claims it works flawlessly with Windows 10 are probably existing users that upgraded from Windows 7 or 8 with the device drivers already installed. The Mac OS (OS X or even the new MacOS - 2016-10) works well and usually doesn't have a problem except in the USB department described below.
Using the calibration is a two step process. First you install the device drivers and software, reboot, then access the software, plug in the Smile, and basically let it read the colors as they cycle in a box on your screen. The screen needs to be titled back slightly so the Smile sits flat on the screen with no light gaps. If you allow light gaps, the calibration will be flawed and the resulting 'improved' image will not be good. This process takes between 3-6 minutes depending on the OS and PC performance. Once done, the colors are matched well across devices. If, like me, you are using multiple displays, it calibrates them so the image color and contrast is consistent across them. This is very beneficial with a laptop and external display, or multiple multi-vendor displays, when dealing with colors for video editing, photo editing, or graphic work in general.
That was the good news. The bad news is that it is sometimes very finicky getting it to work. The issues come in multiple forms. First, you need to connect the Smile to a USB 2.0 port that has sufficient power. Many un-powered hubs will not provide enough juice and the error will simply be "Device not found." This is especially confusing when plugging directly into your PC's USB port and getting this message. Only when I realized that it required a direct USB 2.0 connection on the PC, rather than through most hubs or built-in USB 3.0 ports, did it work. This was true on more than a few of my systems making each distinct system a new problem to solve. This is also true on Mac's and PC's alike. For example, it works fine on one MacBook Pro but not on another older or newer one depending on their USB configurations. Heaven only knows if this will work at all on systems with only USB-C ports with dongles...
In addition to the aforementioned USB issue, the driver software is horrible on Windows. They claim their software is Windows 10 compatible, however, the latest version is not. What is ironic, is that the older version is. A quick look at the INF file (used for loading the drivers) included with the latest 1.0.2 version of their software, shows no OS later than Windows 7 listed. Consequently, when you open the device manager, you will see that no driver is loaded for the Smile, and therefore the software can't find the device. If you had Windows 7 with X-Rites drivers already installed and you upgraded to Windows 10, the driver will continue to function. However, if you just received that shiny new laptop and are installing the software anew, it won't work. Even manually forcing the driver to load (by hunting it down and manually selecting it), will not work because it is not a signed driver and is listed as incompatible with Windows 10. The installer however, gleefully ignores these issues during install and reports no problems at all. Unless you know enough to drill into the device manager and INF files, you won't ever figure out what the problem is.
The solution I found, is to find and download the older version 1.0.1. When you install the older version the driver is picked up by Windows 10 as compliant, and you will see the device being installed and configured by the device manager. Reboot and launch the software and it will inform you there is an upgrade available. Just ignore that. The calibration should now work. You may also need to right-click the ColorMunki Smile shortcut icon created by the installer, and choose 'Run as Administrator' for it to work, again making this kind of trial and error effort.
While the ColorMunki Smile works, the support is basically non-existent and the software hasn't seen a meaningful update in two years. What's funny is they list the latest software as being released in late August, 2016 but this is the version (1.0.2) that won't work with a fresh Windows 10 install. Due to the flaky nature of their software, and the hit and miss nature of the USB compatibility, I have to dock a star for each issue.
Would I recommend this? For color calibration yes, but only if you want to mess with the aforementioned issues. Other options are more expensive so I guess you get what you pay for, and X-Rite is content with that.
3 Stars By WiOs on 2016-12-15
The latest software (September 2016) is still outdated.
The box says 2010. That probably the year it was designed. I didn't use the included CD. Instead, I downloaded the current version of software (V1.1.3 for mac) from X-Rite website. I am using three mac computers. (1) Late-2013 21.5-inch iMac; (2) Late-2015 21.5-inch iMac (non 4K retina); and (3) 2015 model of 13" Macbook Pro (retina display). All are running with mac OS Sierra. The colormunki only works on the Late-2013 model. On the other two computers, it seems to be normal in the beginning. When it is the step to save the profile, an error message says there is something wrong with the measurement. Then I had to repeat the 5-minute calibration process again, but it never got through. I have tried to play with the preference a lot and tried both Easy and Advanced calibration. Nothing would help. By the way, the colormunki can't be recognized by unpowered USB hubs. Even it seems to be connected first, it will dropped very soon. So if you have to use it, plug it directly to the computer's USB port.
When it works, it works great. I always printed dull photos from my Canon Pro-100 printers. After calibrating my iMac, I found that the picture itself was dull. The uncalibrated monitor had falsely displayed vivid color. I haven't tested printing yet, but I expect to get improved prints.
2 Stars By Gatesbuster on 2015-12-18
Outdated software for mac. Accurate color calibration vs Spyder 5
I would have added 2 stars if it was not for the software coming with the color munki. The software is coming on a CD; no luck if you have a new macbook without a CD driver. Hello what about a link to download the software ??? Spyder is coming without a CD but with a quick install link that get you all you need in minutes. They are not keeping up with Mac os and once installed I got error messages. The web site trying to get support is horrendous. Once calibrated, my displays all showed a yellow cast; got more or less the same result calibrating with a spyder 5 pro. The colors printed however were quite accurate; so it does the job. X-Rite needs to come up with an update of their software for mac; when it tries to update, you get an error message.(see the screen captures). I am running OS X El Capitan.
5 Stars By D. McDermand on 2015-03-15
Wow! Count me among the 5 star reviewers. Wish I'd bought this a long time ago. I think of all the hours down the drain trying to make "canned" profiles work. They always took so much tweaking and then were never totally accurate. I cannot believe that the prints from my Colormunki profiled printer (Canon 9000 Mk2) and my Colormunki profiled monitor (Samsung SA850 - a rather long in the tooth product but still excellent) actually MATCH!!! It was in the ballpark after the first profiling but after the second a few weeks later, it is very precise. After shooting and editing my photos, I used to dread the printing process because I knew it would be time consuming and frustrating. Not anymore. This amazing device is worth every penny. For those less than satisfied, I would suggest they continue profiling both their monitor and printer at regular intervals and follow directions to the letter.
5 Stars By Darlene Brazee on 2017-08-25
A solid investment.
Just got my test prints back from the lab and they are great. Their version of autocorrect looks nearly identical to the way edited and sent them. I cringed at the price but it was money well spent. I'm a photographer and having clients get prints that are exact representations of what they are seeing on thief screen is so valuable. I am enjoying this peace of mind.
4 Stars By D. K. on 2016-12-27
For the price it's a good deal, but don't expect a feature packed unit
Worked well after I downloaded some third party software. If you use the software out of the box it will leave your monitor on the blueish/bright side. I needed more advanced features since I work as a retoucher for magazines. For the price it's a good deal, but don't expect sophisticated software, and if you have specific soft proofing parameters you will need third party software to make it work well. I think for the price and the small amount of work I had to do downloading software this was a good investment. If you are a casual user that just wants different screens to have the same colors, then this will work well and easily for you.
4 Stars By Anthony J. on 2014-08-20
My Experience Using Colormunki
I do work with photos and video and own many computer systems so I wanted to see just how much this product would improve the accuracy of my displays.
The first thing was to update the old software it shipped with. Next, remember to select your monitor type, I have a feeling that those who had a problem using this didn't.
The first to get the Colormunki treatment was a average, nice 27 inch IPS, 1080 from 2013. More than anything else what I dislike about these monitors is that you can't seem to turn down the brightness enough.
So with the monitor's own adjustments, starting at zero brightness, with the help of 'munki I determined that about 62 was the best contrast to use. I had been at about ten less because things will start to glow. Following the very simple instructions I finished up and saved a profile and then checked the before and after and found minimal difference. It was still too bright for me and so I continue to use F.Lux to reduce the glow and that changes brightness with day or night light. This problem can be further mitigated either by letting the Colormunki auto adjust "see" a darker room or by manually changing the brightness at the beginning of the program. But this isn't my graphics monitor, I just watch video on it and there was improvement, but not a lot.
On my high resolution graphics monitor I have no brightness problem and again it slightly changed the tints for the better. This might be a situation to use the feature where you leave it connected and have it update for ambient light every 5 minutes, but I didn't.
I won't go through all five monitors I've used this on but let me mention the best use.
My 15.6 laptop HD screen. What a pain this has been, I have an Nvidia GT 630 and Intel graphics and getting it to look right is a struggle because the screen is very cool to start with. In this case it helped greatly and allows me to form this conclusion.
If you own a good looking monitor and are capable of doing good adjustments, this will help only very slightly. It helps more with the converse and with no screen adjustments and only program adjustments, like the laptop, it helped quite a bit. You may still prefer slight adjustments, but now they may be 1-3 instead of +/- 20. Anybody claiming that this greatly improved their monitor started with a very bad looking monitor.
Remember that you're writing a monitor viewing profile and this has no effect on scanning and printing other than you are hopefully seeing the image more accurately on the monitor. That however, doesn't mean your printer is printing accurately
I still use F.Lux for regular viewing because manufacturers seem to think that brightness sells more monitors or did in 2013 and I also prefer to not stare at incandescent light bulbs because that too hurts my eyes. I'm happy to have paid $124 with rebate or I might have returned it, although I will be using it for future monitors too, so it should eventually pay for itself.
Great for poor monitors and less experienced users, so-so for good monitors and when experienced users are using them.
Recommended with these reservations.
2 Stars By J. Marshall on 2016-06-23
Two identical IPS panels, two very different results...
I have two IPS monitors with the same panel but that have slightly different coloring. I was hoping that calibrating the two would normalize them to look the same. After working on it for about an hour, re-calibrating both monitors several times with all the (very limited) available settings, monitor brightness variations, etc... the two monitors looked even more different than with the factory default calibration! Seeing the obvious difference in calibration results from display to display makes me question the accuracy of the device in the first place.
The second, much lesser but still relevant issue I have with the ColorMunki is it's software. It forces you to sit through drawn out 3d animations (which I'm sure someone at the company thought were cool, but quite frankly look like they're from 2001.) Menu transitions are incredibly slow. It provides zero diagnostic information about it's process or calibration results, so you have no idea why or what it did outside of a before/after image. And even the before/after feature is janky; you cant view it side by side and when switching between the two the screen colors colors adjust to something else entirely for a split second making comparing the two even more difficult. For testing profiles and seeing information, I found using Microsoft's screen color management program was easier to use and more informative. If a system program from Microsoft does a better job than your software, you're doing something very wrong!
But really, I can overlook crummy software if the device actually works... unfortunately it doesn't seem to do so. I'll get around to testing it on other monitors around the house and see if it's just a fluke with one of the two monitors I tried it on. Them both having the same panel and seeing it fail as bad as it did doesn't exactly inspire confidence that I'll get good results on anything else.
5 Stars By Paris Tx Guy on 2015-04-24
Amazing accuracy for a 2010 iMac 27"
This only pertains to the 2010 iMac 27" calibration. This monitor can be a tough puppy to calibrate since it is so bright and really does not have the great gamut some high end monitors do. Well, I tried using my old eye1 device with another high dolllar software that you can download for a trial. Not the best results at all. Actually pretty bad. Now, this does not mean the software was bad, but maybe the old eye1 did not work well with this monitor. Either way...got the ColorMunki and calibrated my monitor. I did it several times trying different setups, but knew I had to go much dimmer since my prints were showing up much darker than my screen shots. After calibrating to D65, 80 luminance (used the device to check ambient lighting) I was not sold. However, I received my new pro photo printer today and am in awe of the accuracy from screen to print. When I selected the correct photo paper profile, let lightroom handle colors and made sure my printer was set up right (make sure printer has correct photo paper set and deselect any color management on its part), the prints were dead on. I mean dead on!!!. Of course...my new printer plays a big role, but from screen to print it is amazingly accurate. Even light/dark. Granted you should never truly compare a backlit monitor to a printed photo (obvious), but really nice.
One thing to realize if checking photo prints to screen shots. You really need to look at your prints under the same lighting you set it up for. Meaning...if you have your screen set to daylight light (D65), then looking at your prints under you lamp next to the couch will show a major color shift. incandescent light is much different then daylight. You can, of course, set your monitor up for this color, but that is completely up to you. If you don't have a daylight lamp, go outside in the day and look at the prints.
Either way...this device is really worth the money if you want true color accuracy.
5 Stars By Aldo R. Perez on 2011-08-01
Great value, good colors
First, I'm an old Photoshop user with over 18 years of experience. For me accurate colors are not an option, I NEED accurate colors.
Second, I'm used to calibrating my displays by hand. I have set of calibration images I have used effectively across the years. Manual calibration has become difficult as the number of displays I use in a day has increased. One thing is to get decent colors and another to have multiple displays have the SAME colors.
Third, I have the Pantone Huey Pro and I was never totally happy with the results. I could always see some kind of color cast on the result so I ended having to tweak the resulting color profile by hand.
I got the ColorMunki because it seemed like an upgrade from the legendary X-Rite i1Display. I did find some reviews for the ColorMunki but they all used the more expensive model, the Xrite i1Display Pro for their reviews. Still, after careful study I determined that the added features of the i1Display Pro model were not relevant to my needs. The ColorMunki had all the features and parameters I was looking for.
The included software was easy to use. There was an update on the X-Rite site for the software but it looked like a small update.
I went through the menus, follow instructions. Calibration took like 5 minutes. It measures ambient light and has the option to compensate for changing lighting conditions. This is an option I don't care much for but is there is you want it. You need to leave the ColorMunki connected to your computer for this.
During calibration the ColorMunki actually took control of my monitor settings. Changing contrast, brightness, color balance and then adding a color profile to Windows. I was VERY impressed and the results were better than anything I have ever seen.
It even did a GREAT job with my two laptops. In those cases I had to manually increase or decrease the screen brightness but again a painless process.
In total I calibrated 5 computers and all look very close in brightness and colors. I never would have been able to do this with hand calibration.
Overall I'm very happy with the results from the ColorMunki. I can now move from computer to computer without having to worry about the colors been incorrect. My laptops (like most laptops these days) use TN displays that shift the colors as you change viewing angles (reason graphic artist are hesitant to use laptops for graphic work) but it was still a huge improvement from the default settings. Just getting the brightness of the laptops correct was a big win.
I recommend this product for any photographer and graphic artist that care about color accuracy.
First, there has been an update from X-Rite to the X-Rite XRD Manager. It seems to solve several problems with the program not responding. This component (the XRD Manager) gets installed by the X-Rite drivers but this component got a separate update.
Go to the X-Rite site and search for "X-Rite Device Services (XRD)", the latest version as of today is 2.2. Below are a list of issues (rare issues) I have encountered with ColorMunki but I don't know if this update would solve any, some or all of them. Will update in the future after this update.
I wanted to update my review with several issues I have encountered while calibrating some displays. Note, all my testing is with Windows 7 64bit and Vista 32bit computers, I don't know how the ColorMunkey would work on a Mac or older versions of Windows.
Problem 1: For some displays I've had to calibrate twice to get the right colors. Not common but it has happened to me. If the colors don't look right try again. I suspect this to be a Windows issue (I suspect the latest patch will fix this).
Problem 2: It works better when Windows has drivers for the monitor. Yes, for most monitors in Windows 7 and Vista Microsoft will send you drivers for your monitor through the Windows update feature (optional updates). ColorMunkey seems to use the information on the drivers to some extent.
Problem 3: I have found SOME monitors that REFUSE to calibrate NO MATTER what. ColorMunkei depends on being able to take control of the monitor settings. I found that one of my old Samsung 21" monitor (DVI Connection) would not calibrate no matter what. Then again this monitor has poor colors even if you manually calibrate it.
Problem 4: This is perhaps the biggest problem for many, ColorMunkei doesn't do miracles. A bad display is, well ... a bad display. To get acceptable results ColorMunkei needs all primary colors and most of the secondary colors to display within an acceptable range (usually no more than 3 deltas of difference from ideal color). Some displays will not give you good colors no matter how you calibrate. In those cases calibration becomes more of an art than a science and ColorMunkei is no good at that. Manual calibration is your only hope here as only you can know what color defects are acceptable to you.
Example: A particular monitor can't display blues right, after calibration all other colors look good but now you have a blue color cast because calibrating the other colors actually highlights the blue color issue even more.
I still would recommend Color Munkey without hesitation but problem number 3 is specially disturbing. This tells me that at least on Windows machines we can get some kind of hardware/software incompatibility that you can't overcome (I have not tested with the latest patch from X-Rite yet). Problem number 4 is more about expectations, know your hardware and understand what it can do. TN panels are cheap and color quality varies a LOT on them. You CAN make them look better after calibration but IPS are generally better if color is critical to you. It is better to begin with a good display and then calibrate to get the most from it. Don't get a bad display and expect calibration to fix every color issue.