First, my disclaimer. I received this for free through Amazon Vine. Anyone's review that displays the Vine badge also received this for free. I review all of the things I receive as if I had paid for them for maintaining my review integrity.
As I also received the Xrite EODIS3 i1Display Pro
from Amazon Vine, I will approach this review by comparing the two devices. The reason being that someone in the market for color calibration will definitely see these two devices and wonder which is the better device to spend their money on.
For informational purposes, I am using a Windows 7 Professional 64 bit Lenovo T410 with 6 GB of RAM. I have not tried this on a Mac as I do not own one, though the manual claims it will work on Mac OS 10.5 or 10.6 with the latest updates installed.
Not too surprisingly, the packaging for the ColorMunki and the i1 Display Pro are nearly identical. The box is the same size and shape. The only difference between the two is the cover art and description on the back of the boxes.
The manual is EXACTLY the same, with the exception of the i1Display name is changed to ColorMunki in the ColorMunk manual obviously. Seriously. They are exactly the same, word for word, picture for picture.
And this manual is a JOKE. It should be treated as merely a quick start guide, as it is called, as it doesn't contain any troubleshooting information or anything else of use outside of installing the software and plugging in the device/using the software. It's minimalist.
Process is much the same. I HIGHLY recommend, to avoid frustration, that you head over to X-Rite's website and download the latest version of the software and NOT use the disc included. The included disc is one version old compared to the updated version available.
The software requires a reboot, so be sure you aren't doing anything else in the background when it installs.
The hardware device looks the same and functions the same as the i1Display Pro with the exception of a few color changes.
The software looks different but provides similar functionality. Each offers advanced and basic operation (basic is just put the device on the screen and keep hitting next, advanced allows you to choose luminance and also calibrates your brightness and contrast). The nice thing that is missing from the ColorMunki software is the Printer Calibration add on.
Calibration on the ColorMunki took 5 minutes to complete. The basic color patch, that seemed the same to me between the two pieces of software, took the i1Display Pro only about 2.5 minutes to complete. So the ColorMunki is about half as slow as the i1Display Pro. The other difference is that the i1Display Pro allows you to use large color patches to calibrate. Using the largest patch on the i1Display Pro, calibration took me 8 minutes or so while the medium sized patch took about 5 minutes.
So here's the most important part of this review and comparison. The ColorMunki's profile/calibration is as good as the i1Display Pro. I have switched between the two device's color profiles and can see no discernible difference between the two profiles. No difference AT ALL. The two device provided profiles that look identical to my eyes.
Then the question you will be, so what are the differences?
Other than the color of the device and different packaging colors, here are the major differences:
i1Display has ambient light measurements for color and luminance, the ColorMunki only does Luminance. This is only a consideration if you choose to use the option on either device, outside of calibration, to have your color profile update based on ambient light conditions (which also requires either device to be plugged in all the time).
i1Display is faster (X-Rite claims 5x, but based on my testing it seemed more like 2x)
The i1Display Pro offers Predefined, Custom or Measured White Point and White Luminance while the ColorMunki offers only Predefined for these options. For these, I would say if you are a hobbyist like me, you probably aren't going to be messing that deeply with the White options from these devices. Professionals WILL want the i1Display Pro for sure.
i1Display Pro allows you to save Work Flows for future use, the ColorMunki does not. For most hobbyists, this won't be an issue and for a lot of professionals it may not be that significant either.
ColorMunki Tone Response Predefined options (1.8, 2.2) while i1Display Pro is Predefined (1.8, 2.2, 3.0, sRGB). I'm not sure what the difference between these options so I can't comment.
The i1Display Pro offers Characterization Target via Iterative and Optimized based on PANTONE colors or specific images while the ColorMunki only offers Iterative. There is no clear explanation given on X-Rite's website to explain the difference and the pitiful "manuals" certainly don't help.
The i1Display Pro offers Display Quality Assurance (you can run all sorts of tests with the i1Display Pro to validate calibrations and different displays), Display Uniformity Test (this tells you how good/bad 9 cross sections of your display are so you know the best areas of a display to work on for color critical applications) and Numeric Display Matching (both devices offer Visual validation, that is, shows you the difference, only the i1Display Pro offers you numeric values for validation purposes).
The $80 question (the price difference between the two devices) comes down to a hobbyist to speed. If you are OK spending 5 minutes calibrating the display instead of only taking 2.5, then the ColorMunki is the device to buy. The profiles are nearly identical (as best I can tell) and both do a great job of calibrating displays.
If you are a professional, you will be much better served buying the Xrite EODIS3 i1Display Pro
. You likely know what you want your white set to and most likely have a need for constant calibrations for color accuracy. It is also nice that, while initially confusing for me, that you have the Printer Profiling capability built into the software, as most likely as a professional you will want what comes out of your printer to be as close to as exactly the same as what you see on your displays. As a hobbyist, I won't ever be there though given the price of Printer Profiling hardware.
I am a HOBBYIST. I don't need to validate my display to ensure my colors are accurate for anyone other than myself. (**PLEASE SEE EDIT BELOW**) For me, as the ColorMunki and i1Display Pro can be treated as single use devices (for most hobbyists, once you've calibrated the display, you're pretty much done with the device unless you REALLY have a desire for the ambient light sensor functionality), I would have been happy with just using the ColorMunki on my displays. I guess you could wind up using them again in the future with the purchase of a new display, but really the ColorMunki is the device of choice, in my mind, for hobbyists like me.
Over all, as a hobbyist, I would be quite happy with just a ColorMunki alone. Professionals will need the i1Display Pro.
EDIT- So after doing a more thorough investigation on display calibration, the prevailing logic is that your displays change over time. While going through a digital imaging class, it seems that the recommendation is once a week or once every other week for proper calibration. I'd say that's probably more for professional level (and maybe once a day calibration if you are a professional!). As a hobbyist, I'm finding my display isn't changing enough to justify the minute levels of calibration I see on a weekly to bi-weekly basis to put it back into proper calibration that frequently. Once a month seems to do me just fine, and even then calibration doesn't require more than a brightness tweak, if anything at all.