Color management guide by Arnaud Frich

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Updated on September 08, 2016
 

Review of the colorimeter Spyder4TV HD

How tempting to be able to control the display quality of your HD TV or plasma monitor before watching your favorite Blu-Ray! That's what the kit Spyder4TV HD by Datacolor enables to do. It enables to calibrate your HD TV or your plasma monitor. In the case of a TV screen, we'll be talking of accurate setting rather than calibration because we won't create any ICC profile. Let's see how it works...

Box of the colorimeter Spyder4TV HDThe solution Spyder4TV HD by Datacolor thus enables to set the colors of your TV screen, your HD TV or even your plasma monitor accurately (rather than calibrate). In the case of a TV screen, we can't talk about calibration in the sense of a computer screen indeed, because it doesn't control your TV. The ICC profile of your television isn't loaded in your computer's graphic card and even less of your HD TV. It is thus an accurate setting that will help you fix and check your blacks, your luminosity, your colors and shades, etc. in order to display the colors as accurately as possible, and anyway, much better than with factory settings. It will also enable to maximize your TV's life expectancy with a normal luminosity. 

Spyder4TV HD or Upgrade kit?

Upgrade Kit Spyder4TV  HDYou can buy the box Spyder4TV HD or an upgrade kit for your Spyder4Pro or Spyder4Elite towards the solution Spyder4TV HD. In this second case only, you'll also be able to calibrate your computer screen.


Buy your Spyder4TV HD from...

  Price  
Buy from Amazon.com
 
Amazon.co.uk
£86.14 Buy from Amazon.co.uk
 
Amazon.ca
CDN$220.06 Buy from Amazon.ca

Buy your Spyder4TV HD Upgrade from...

  Price  
 
Amazon.co.uk
£50.21 Buy from Amazon.co.uk

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Presentation of the colorimeter Spyder4TV HD (or the Upgrade kit)

This calibration colorimeter for HD TVs, plasma monitors or video projectors (even if it not as convenient) is at least in its second evolution. It takes the form of an Upgrade kit if you already own a Spyder4Pro or Elite or a full kit (colorimeter + program + charts + elastics) if you just want to calibrate your TV.

The calibration kit and its box

Datacolor's TV kit Spyder4TV HD is sold with a new colorimeter with seven RGB channels, very well manufactured and with a much larger viewing window and a clever system of elastics enabling to fasten your colorimeter flat on your screen. The kit Spyder4TV HD contains several CDs, DVDs or Blu-Rays:    

  • An installation CD for Mac or PC;
  • A DVD PAL with calibration or accurate setting charts;
  • A Blu-Ray with the same charts;
  • A DVD NTSC with the same charts.


Complete Kit Spyder4TV HD

Very well manufactured, the new colorimeter Spyder4TV HD is sold with two clever fastening elastics (you can see them on the photo below). 


As for itself, the Upgrade kit Spyder4Pro or Elite to Spyder4TV HD contains:  

  • Upgrade kit Spyder4TV HDAn installation CD for Mac or PC;
  • A DVD PAL with calibration or accurate setting charts to install in your DVD player;
  • A Blu-Ray with the same charts;
  • A DVD NTSC with the same charts;
  • + a protective cover to fasten over your Spyder and two elastics to fasten the colorimeter Spyder4 on a TV (up to 70 inches in diagonal).


Installation of the program Spyder4TV

To control the colorimeter that will be fastened on your screen, you need to intall the calibration program on your laptop (easier to carry next to your TV screen). Nothing particular to say, except that activation is compulsory but so easy and quick on the web.

Main characteristics

  • Multifunctional measurement device, ergonomic and smaller than in the previous version;
  • New filters and aperture 246 % wider;
  • Test source: DVD and Blu-ray (PAL and NTSC) ;
  • Elastics for TVs up to 70 inches in diagonal;
  • For plasma, LCD, LED, OLED, DLP, RPTV and LCos monitors, video projectors and your average TV screen!


Technical specifications

 
Spyder4TV HD
Average price: £50.00 (Upgrade)
Colorimeter
colorimeter Spyder4TV HD
 
Program
Spyder4TV HD (4.54 November 2013)
 
CT setting
Yes.
 
Luminosity
Yes
 
Contrast
Yes
 
Colors
Yes
 
Shade
Yes
Company


Download Spyder4TV HD

Spyder4 appSpyder4TV HD exists in Windows 32 or 64 bits version and Mac OS. version.

Download Datacolor's Spyder4TV HD Suivre

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Calibration of your TV step by step

To calibrate your HD TV or your plasma screen, you thus need to prepare three things:  

  • Install the calibration program or more exactly the program of control of your colorimeter on your computer.
    My recommendation! Since the computer must be placed close to your TV screen, either your bring your TV next to your office computer, either you install the program on a laptop.
  • Put the DVD or Blu-Ray containing the calibration charts in your reader.
  • Arm yourself with the remote controls for your reader and your TV because you're going to need it all the time during the calibration of your TV. 

The program Spyder4TV HD that you need to install on your computer, rather a laptop for obvious practical reasons, enables, from its main window, to calibrate all types of TVs on the market, from your parents' average TV to HD or plasma monitors and to the now classic LCD or LED screens. The program controls your colorimeter or more exactly, reads the colors displayed on your computer but you have to change the settings of your plasma or HD TV manually, following the instructions of your colorimeter hence of the program and adjust the settings using your TV's remote control. 

Note! Reckon it will take you a good thirty minutes to calibrate your TV correctly and make the few necessary before/after controls!

1 - Welcome screen and before starting!

The welcome screen (on your computer when you launch the program Spyder4TV) tells you that this program will help you what this program will help you set and optimize on your TV screen:

  • Pre-setting of color temperature;
  • Luminosity;
  • Contrast,
  • Color (saturation);
  • Shade (green/red).


Main menu of the calibration program Spyder4TV

Click the button "Next" at the bottom right.


In the next page, "Before starting", you'll tick all the boxes after making the controls recommended by the program...

  • I especially note that you need to have started your TV 30 minutes before starting calibration;
  • If your TV has several display modes like Normal, Cinema, Dynamic, etc., choose Standard mode (at least at first. You'll be able to try other settings later, while checking what you're doing thanks to the colorimeter. I think it's the main interest of this colorimeter).
  • First, deactivate various dynamic settings; once you'll have set shade and colors, you can then reactivate some settings according to your tastes while "measuring" how they impact your image. 
  • And plug the colorimeter on your office computer or laptop!

You need to tick everything and click next...


In the next page, you'll be asked if you want to save the settings you're about to make in a file. Click the button "Next".

2 - Select the type of TV

Choose your type displayYou can choose between five types of TVs:

  • CRT TV (old generation, you know, the ones that took a lot of space!);
  • Plasma TV;
  • LED or LCD screens;
  • rear projection monitors;
  • Video projectors.

Then, the next page asks you the brand, the model and the place where your TV is set (to guess the manual settings you have access to, I reckon, because they depend on each TV model).

3 - Select possible settings


Possible settings on your TV

4 - Then fasten your colorimeter on the screen using the elastics - On my screen, the elastics have a hard time holding in place as in the photo below though!

Place the colorimeter Spyder4TV HD on your TV screen using the elastics

5 - Then, using your DVD or Blu-Ray reader's remote control, launch the program on your TV and select the first set of charts as in the fig. below:


Choice of test charts

Black chart

The ten windows aren't always used.


6 - The calibration of your screen can start!

a ) Black point

  • Setting of black for your televisionOn your TV: display chart 1 on your DVD or Blu-Ray reader;
  • On your computer: launch black measurement by clicking on the next button on the program on your computer (image over there). 

My recommendation! Make sure that your screen isn't lit too much at the time of measurement. Try to turn the lights of the room off. 


b ) White point

  • On your TV: go to chart 2, this time with a white rectangle.
  • On your computer: click next to launch white measurement.


c ) Contrast (rather sets high lights)

  • Contrast setting with Spyder4TV's chart 2On your TV: still displaying chart 2, you'll set contrast in several steps (7 or 8) during which you'll have to change contrast values following the computer program's instructions. Start placing the contrast cursor on 100 and...
  • On your computer: launch a measurement by clicking on the next button of your computer and so on...
    In the end, you have the possibility to see the optimal settings curve for contrast on your TV on a graphic and the program gives you the optimum contrast value you'll have to indicate in the settings of your television. 


d ) Color temperature 

You're now going to set color temperature for your plasma monitor, your HD TV or your video projector. Follow the procedure and click next. 


e ) Luminosity (mostly sets blacks)

  • Optimum luminosity setting of a TV with the colorimeter Spyder4TV-HDOn your TV: displaying chart 1 again, you are now going to set the luminosity of your TV screen. 
  • On your computer: follow the procedure and click the button next. Start by placing the luminosity cursor at 0 (on your TV) and launch a measurement by clicking next on the computer and so on... until the program indicates the optimum luminosity value as in the image here. Fix this value once and for all on your TV screen.


f ) Color (equivalent to saturation)

Color setting on your TV with Spyder4TV HDDisplaying alternately charts 3 and 4 on your TV, you are now going to set the colors of your TV screen. Follow the procedure hence display chart 3 first and the button next on your computer. Start by placing the color cursor of your TV at 100 and launch a measurement by clicking the button next on your computer and so on... until the program indicates the optimal color value as in the image over there. Set this value on your TV once and for all.


f ) Shade (red/green)

Shade setting on your TV with Spyder4TV HDDisplaying alternately charts 5 and 6 on your TV screen, you are now going to set the shade of your computer. Follow the procedure, thus display chart 5 first and click the button next on your computer. Start by placing the shade cursor at 50 and launch a measurement by clicking next and so on... until the program indicates the optimal shade value as in the image over there. Set this value once and for all on your television.


g ) Post-calibration analysis  

Go back to chart 1 on your television and click the button next on your computer to launch the measurement.


h ) Final report: calibration is finished!

Final settings with the colorimeter Spyder4TV HD

Final settings on my Samsung HD television.Color and shade drifts are not too important (less than 5%).


My analysis:
as you can see on this TV (recent Samsung TV with LCD technology), the cursors don't need to be moved a lot relatively to the factory settings for color (hence saturation) and shade (hence the red/green axis). Hard to see a real difference before/after, all the more since unlike computer monitors, the profile isn't saved on a graphic card and you just have to alternate both ICC profiles to see it. Here, everything must be set with the old cursors then the new ones to see the difference; not so easy!

It is a lot more spectacular for black, luminosity and contrast settings. Here, factory settings are always wrong (at least for my TV)!

7 - Control of calibration of your TV

It is now time to check that your TV is well-calibrated with reference images, or to decide whether you still need to make slight corrections. For that, open reference images using your DVD or Blu-Ray reader. You'll find them going back to the main menu of your Blu-Ray or DVD:


Test images of Spyder4TV HD


The test images in group 3, "Before/after", are presented below. Each one enables to check a different point:


Spyder4TV HD Datacolor's before/after menu


Photo 1, very dark, enables to check the luminosity level hence the setting of blacks, photo 2 is for contrast hence white setting and photo 3 enables to check that color and shade are calibrated properly. Don't hesitate to go back to your television's settings in order to correct luminosity and contrast and set blacks and whites perfectly as in the two photos here on the left. 

My recommendation! Personally, I didn't hesitate to add a bit more color hence saturation, however, the luminosity/contrast level was perfect and a lot better than the default setting!

Images in group 2 also enable to "see" if the settings are optimal. They complete series 3 because they also enable to check sharpness.


Important personal thought!

Depending on the quality of the settings of your HD TV (plasma or not) when it leaves the factory, you will possibly feel like the settings after calibration are not so different from default settings. But when you buy this kind of product, you want it to be useful! So, even in this case, I think calibration is very useful to set luminosity/contrast levels well, essential not to suffocate your shadows and burn high lights. And even if your settings are not so different from factory settings in the end, at least you'll be reassured because you'll know!

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Conclusion and rating!

Before/after the calibration of a TV with the colorimeter Spyder4TV HDThe colorimeter Spyder4TV HD is a very pertinent solution to calibrate your HD TV or your plasma monitor. For a reasonable price finally, you'll get a precious help to calibrate it correctly... because as for all monitors, it is almost impossible to do to the naked eye. For this price, why not? In my situation, it was very beneficial to blacks and high lights, barely visible for colors but above all, I could test the influence of all other settings offer in the many menus of your televisions on the quality of my reference images. Very educational! So it works, no doubt about it and my Blu-Rays look even better.

 

Ratings

 

Spyder4TV HD

   
Manufacturing quality
4 stars
 
 
Robustness/stability in time
3 stars
 
 
Possibilities
4 stars
 
 
Calibration quality
4 stars
 
 
Value for money
4,5 stars
 
 
PROS...
  • Really interesting to set luminosity/contrast/color/saturation on your HD or plasma screen
  • Blacks and whites are progressive and very well calibrated
  • Completely neutral greys
  • If you thought it was already good... well now you'll know! Very interesting price and even a bargain if you already have a monitor colorimeter Spyder4Pro or Elite
  • Spyder4TV HD will help you know better the impact of all settings, especially dynamic ones, of your HD TV: you'll see concretely how it influences your television thanks to test images.
 
 
CONS...
  • Calibration is a bit long (reckon it will take you thirty minutes)
  • Not all of your TV settings can be calibrated, but test images will still help you not to do nonsense
  • Color (saturation) setting maybe a bit low (I had to add 5 points)
  • It is not a proper calibration with an ICC profile but if your TV is recent it doesn't matter much, we're quibbling here!
 
 
OVERALL RATING
8.0 / 10
 


My opinion:
I am delighted to have discovered and tried this colorimeter. What do you want, what works for monitors also works for televisions! In my situation, it was less dramatic on colors than on black and whites settings but at least, I now know it and the effect is real! And all of this at an affordable price, especially if you already own a Spyder4Pro or Spyder4Elite colorimeter. Try it and you'll be surprised to see the effect on your DVDs and Blu-Rays but also to know better the effect of all possible "image" settings on your television... Adopted! 


Buy the colorimeter Spyder4TV HD

Buy from Amazon.com


   
Retailers
Price  
   
Logo Amazon.fr
$169.99
Buy from Amazon.com
   
Amazon.co.uk
£86.14
Buy from AMazon.co.uk
   
Amazon.ca
CDN$220.06 Buy from Amazon.ca

 

 




 

Buy the  Spyder4TV HD Upgrade kit *

   
Retailers
Price  
   
Logo Amazon.fr
-
   
Amazon.co.uk
£50.21
Buy from Amazon.co.uk







* You need to own a Spyder4Pro or Spyder4Elite already. 

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