Datacolor SpyderTV Hands On (CrunchGear)

By John Biggs

Prior to sitting down to view that yearly bacchanal of violence and beer last night, the SAG Awards (I TiVo-ed it, natch), I decided to whip out the SpyderTV by Datacolor to calibrate my 56-inch JVC DLP. One of the major issues I've always had with this HD TV is that standard definition TV always looks washed out and messy, especially when running through the TiVo. In order to at least fix some of the color errors, I went into the set-up menu and proceeded to ruin the color even more. Thankfully, SpyderTV was able to steer me back to an acceptable mix of brightness, contrast, and tint.

The device comes with a colorimeter, a test pattern DVD, and a program disk. It works only under Windows and connects to the meter to test different colors and patterns on your TV screen.

You begin by entering your TV model and current settings, including color temperature and all of the color and brightness settings. The system then asks you to skip back and forth on the test pattern DVD to pick brightness and tint levels, allowing you to watch in real time as the system calculates your optimum settings.

Before SpyderTV all of the colors on the DLP were too "hot" and bright and had a definite yellow tint to them. After the calibration, which took about 30 minutes, the HD picture was extremely true to live and even the pixellated SD picture became acceptable. Even the Wii and the 360 looked better with the new settings. Not bad for a few minutes work.

Datacolor sells the Spyder for $229 online. If you are a home theatre buff and want to make sure you're seeing what you're supposed to be seeing, it's not a bad investment. Clearly this is a one-time use thing, but if you go through a TV or two every few years then it might be a good investment. Perhaps you could sell your services as a home TV calibrator on Craigslist?

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