Datacolor has recently introduced SpyderTV, a new
software/hardware combination that promises to bring home theater display
calibration to the masses. The concept for SpyderTV originated with renowned
color calibration software maker Milori, who designed ColorFacts, and was one
of the reasons why Colorvision/Datacolor had purchased the company.
The SpyderTV promises a lot for a list price of $249. The product was
designed to provide novices with rudimentary color calibration at a fraction
of the cost of a professional ISF calibration package, such as ColorFacts
Pro. The product is a step up from the more common DVD test pattern
calibration that does not include the use of a sensor.
Calibration, what is it?
Have you ever noticed that the displays in an
electronics store all show the same source image, but each TV looks
different? Out of the box, TVs and displays are set to seek out the buyerís
eye - i.e., look sharper, brighter, and more colorful. When you get your
display home, however, how do you get it to look as close to the real world
as you can?
DVE and AVIA discs try to provide you with a passive source that lets you
optimize what you have. However, you still need some type of reference to be
able to get your display close to what the movie director or editor had seen
on their reference monitor.
The difference in price between AVIA/DVE class products and the next step (a
full blown ISF test or even ISF equipment) was the huge gap that SpyderTV is
attempting to fill.
What does it do?
The SpyderTV package includes a software CD, a DVD
(NTSC for the US, PAL for Europe), the Spyder2 USB sensor, an LCD/Plasma
viewing filter, a suction-cup/tripod holder latch, and a neat bag to hold the entire
The answer to the "What exactly does and doesnít it do?" question was a hard one to
answer prior to actually getting the unit. However, it appear to focus on a few major
calibration points: Brightness, Contrast, Color/Tint, and Color Temperature.
The system attempts to find the ideal values for each of these with concern
to accuracy. It differentiates between plasma, LCD, CRT, and rear
projection technologies, and adjusts its calibrations accordingly.
The interesting thing about SpyderTV is that it
includes exactly the same sensor as the Datacolor ColorFacts Pro 6.0 package. The
capabilities of the SpyderTV are obviously less than those of Datacolorís
flagship product, but it does give people a taste of "the good stuff".
While SpyderTV doesnít specifically state that it can be used with front
projection systems, it doesnít take much to allow a front projector to be
calibrated Ė just add a tripod, turn the sensor towards the lens of the
projector, and youíre there.
The Spyder sensor is shaped like a three legged spider, and comes with a
hive- shaped filter that fits on top of it. The documentation says nothing
about the filter, which should always stay on when using the SpyderTV
The sensor includes three tiny suction cups which get blocked off by the
hive shaped filter. That leaves the extra suction cup attachment. Sadly,
that attachment fit tightly on the sensor and I found myself wanting a
tighter connection between the sensor and the display.
The sensorís cable
comes with a sliding counterweight that ensures the sensorís weight does
not dislodge it from the screen. I found myself having to repeatedly
reattach the sensor to the screen, so I would say that more suction might
be in order here.
The SpyderTV DVD starts off with a sales pitch (most likely for shops selling
to to use for demonstrations), an explanation of the system, and some test
patterns. The test patterns are by no means a replacement for DVE/AVIA (a
few more key patterns and it could have been, but they serve the system nicely.
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