DIY HDTV Calibration Software Overview: A Comparison of ColorHCFR, ChromaPure, and CalMAN



As I've read reviews for displays for a good part of the past 20 years, I've always seen references to how close the display will come to the reference points for grayscale and color. In the past, most end users were only able to access certain controls on a TV and using a disc such as Video Essentials, you could do a pretty good job adjusting those controls on your own to get your TV as close as you could. You could always hire an ISF professional who would be able to come out with his tools, and his access to the service menu in the TV to make more advanced adjustments, but people often scoffed at paying the $300 and up that this service would run, and after the tech left there was often no way to tweak these adjustments yourself if you decided that, even if it wasn't accurate, you wanted the picture to look different.

Now however, many displays and projectors are shipping that give end users access to a full featured color management system, which allows you to adjust far more that Brightness and Contrast. However, these advanced controls take far more skill to use than previous settings, typically a minimum of a color meter and a software package to help analyze those results. To take a look at what consumers can use to help get more accurate results from their sets, I evaluated three different software packages, and two hardware tools, along with a friend, to see how accurate we could get our displays. We used ColorHCFR (free), ChromaPure ($200, which includes 1 measurement meter), and CalMAN ($200 for home edition, $500 for enthusiast) for our software packages, and an i1 Display LT and i1 Display Pro for our meters. The displays that we calibrated where a Samsung PN50B650 50" plasma, and a JVC RS25 projector.