I understand that the term "best" is mostly subjective and in many cases, it's entirely based on individual requirements. The recent releases from Datacolor boast some pretty cool new features, but, do they make them the best?
The last Datacolor calibrator that I used was the Spyder4PRO and for that most part, it was actually pretty good. I did eventually move onto to using the X-Rite i1 Studio which I think is absolutely brilliant. More recently I've started to use the new SpyderX PRO and aside from the color, I'm actually quite impressed.
Build and Design
As with most Datacolor calibrators, the SpyderX isn't very different in terms of design. The overall shape and design is almost identical to the Spyder5Pro. The biggest physical change between the two calibrators is that the SpyderX now uses a lens based system. Personally, I think this will probably make it easier to clean and can prevent any dust or debris getting into some of the crucial sections. I'm also led to believe that this new lens design system has allowed Datacolor to increase performance by a significant degree; hence the bold new claims about the calibrators speed and accuracy.
Aside from the lens, there are no significant changes when it comes to the design and I don't think this is a bad thing. Based on my use I found the SpyderX to be very easy and straight forward to use; far more so than the i1 Studio. One of the things I really like about the SpyderX is the fact that the "cap" to the lens also acts as a counterweight. This is very useful when you're trying to align the calibrator to your monitor and ensure that it's pressed up against the screen properly. the i1 Studio was just a little bit of a pain to use in comparison because it requires you to use a soft, weighted case in order to attach it to your monitor. Based on that, the usability factors are already much better with the SpyderX.
Speed is something that Datacolor has really promoted quite heavily about the new SpyderX. It's true that most calibrators you buy today tend to take a good amount of time to complete full calibration. For many people, time is valuable and in most instances, any product that can produce results in a shorter period of time is generally a better product. The time you spend calibrating your monitor could be time spent doing some work and for that reason, the speed of the SpyderX is clearly an advantage. in my testing, I found that the SpyderX is able to perform a full calibration in approximately 1 minute and 20 seconds. This is significantly faster than any other monitor calibrator that I've ever used.
Datacolor is definitely not exaggerating the speed improvements of their latest calibrator and I think there may be photographers out there who will properly benefit from this. This is especially useful for those of us that have multiple monitors and displays to calibrate. the time spent trying to calibrate multiple monitors is where the savings will really occur. For most people who use a single display, I don't think this speed improvement is a significant advantage. I'm not certain if it's worth upgrading previous models just because of the speed improvements if you only own a single display. The reason I say this is because for the most part, whenever I've been calibrating a single monitor I would just let it run while I go make some coffee or take a break. I've never sat in front of my screen waiting for a calibration to complete so I can continue doing some work. It seems to me that most photographers tend not to either. Sure the speed improvements are a benefit, but, I can't see how it's a significant benefit for most photographers.
Color accuracy is another thing that Datacolor were boasting about their latest calibrator and I think this is a difficult one to test. Without using specific scientific methods there's no real way to quantify this claim. Compared to the i1 Studio both are performing really well and produce what I consider to be accurate and pleasing calibrations. Both systems tend to offer brilliant results and I don't think either one is causing any issues to my workflow. When it comes down to the actual results, honestly there isn't much in it when comparing different calibrators of a certain caliber. In real-world use, most of us are probably not going to be able to tell results apart from different calibrators. Unfortunately there just isn't a feasible way for me to scientifically test precisely how accurate the SpyderX is or any other calibrator for that matter. What I can say is that the SpyderX is an excellent calibrator and one which I do recommend.
My absolute favorite thing about Datacolor and their calibrators is just how easy it is to manage profiles. On Windows, the SpyderX app appears in your tray towards the right of your screen and from there you can not only manage your profiles but, you can also quickly and easily switch on and off your calibrations. Not only that but you have a whole host of different options to and preferences you can manage all from the app this just makes the software so easy to use. The simplicity and ease of use is what really makes the difference.
What I Liked
- Ease of use and simplicity.
- The speed benefits are very useful if you own multiple displays.
- The software is very intuitive.
- The results a fantastic and I have no complaints.
What I Didn't Like
- Nothing but extremely minor nitpicks which aren't worth mentioning.
I believe the speed improvements of the SpyderX have been somewhat overstated and although it is useful for some, it's probably not going to be useful for many. The true benefit of the Datacolor system is their software and how easy it is to use their calibrator. Everything is incredibly intuitive and this is where the real value is. For this reason, I have completely switched to the SpyderX Pro and I highly recommend it.