In an earlier review, I looked at X-Rite's new product called the ColorMunki which really blew me away with the quality and performance of this product. Over the course of several articles, I will now look at X-Rite's all new i1 product line.
There are two fundamental paths that you can take with the i1 line: i1 Basic and the i1 XTreme. The i1 Basic, which is marketed as an affordable, upgradeable, professional spectral color measurement solution and monitor profiler. Once you own the i1 Basic, you own the capabilities of the other modules, you only need to purchase an access code to activate them. Here I will look at the ease of use of the i1 RGB Output Module Upgrade. This is printer profiler module that will allow you to accurately match the colors on your screen with the colors on the printer output. This module comes standard comes as a part of the i1 XTreme.
Once you are ready, you need to print a test chart. When you do this you want to make sure, through your printer dialog, that the color management is turned off. You don't want anything affecting the output or trying to make some adjustment. Then you print your chart. Now the thing is, once you print it, you will need to wait. How long? That depends on your printer, your ink, and your paper. You might get away with 30-60 minutes, but for best results, 24 hours would be best. Sometimes the colors change as they dry and this would affect your calibration.
Once you are ready, you then need to calibrate your i1 spectrophotometer with the white tile provided. Next you put your dry, printed test chart into the i1 Ruler Board and place the i1 Ruler over top. Position your spectrophotometer on the first column of the first row, and when prompted, scan the row. If you get the A-OK, you move to the next row, if not, you will be prompted to rescan the same row again. Once all of the rows are complete, you are done with profiling, and you will want to save the profile with a meaningful name that includes the printer name and model, paper type, and perhaps ink information.
Now how do you use this profile? Well for printing say in Adobe Photoshop, in your printer dialog, you would select the Color Management and let Photoshop handle color management. Then in your printer profile drop down, you choose the appropriate profile for the media that you are using. In Photoshop you can even use the proof setup functionality to soft proof your image before you ever print it.
Just like my experience with the printer profiling in the ColorMunki, I found the i1 RGB Output Module Upgrade extremely easy to work with and easy to get professional results from. Why would you want this over the ColorMunki? Primarily because of the level of color match accuracy. Because of the vast amount of color squares measured the better representation that you will get translated to your final output.
Remember that the spectrophotometer is a precision instrument and should be treated as such. Not only should care be taken when handling (don't throw it down or otherwise misuse it), but it also should be kept in its case when not in use. The i1 Match software is so intuitive to use with the easy mode, it's almost a no-brainer that anyone can use.
At $199 USD, i1 RGB Output Module Upgrade is reasonably priced for someone who is trying to become a professional. As the i1 Basic makes for the perfect entry point to professional quality display profiling, the i1 RGB Output Module Upgrade will take you to the next level, and so I very highly recommend this product.