Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A color monopoly is born: XRITE, GMB Merge

This is not a rumor, it's a done deal. The two 800 pound gorillas of the Colour Management market have got married. The marriage ceremony is valued at $280 Million. Color is serious business nowadays.

Here is the Gretag-side link to this announcement and here is the Xrite-side page .

The CEO of the merged company should first be the present CEO of XRITE, Mr. Michael Ferrara. The present CEO of GMB, Mr. Tom Vacchiano should replace him within 18 months, according to info which I was given. Mary Chowning of Xrite will be CFO, Francis Lamy of GMB CTO. The new HQ will be located in Grandville, Michigan, not Regensdorf. It would seem that digital imaging products rather than industrial color is the center of gravity of the new company.

I knew that Xrite was cash-rich. I didn't know they were that rich.

Having observed -on previous occasions- the fanatical cost-cutting that accompanies these US-driven mergers, I would guess that there will soon be a bunch of color marketing execs and even a few color-scientists looking for work. Not to speak of manufacturing . Maybe some of these idled guys and gals will set up the much needed competition to the newborn giant.

However, there is also the possibility that the new management will redirect the freed R&D and marketing resources to create the cheaper, simpler colour management products that the desktop publishing and photo market really needs. I certainly hope they will do this.

On a more serious note, I think that melding Xrite's excellent design for usability with Gretag's measurement precision will be good for existing users in the short term. Both companies have a good rep with users and good products.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Finally Here! The Calibrator they might give away: Pantone Huey

My regular readers will remember that I predicted a crash in monitor-calibrator prices as Windows Vista looms on the horizon - looks like I was right, even sooner than I expected. Entry-level monitor calibrator prices are diving.

The favorite party favor in Color Management circles should soon be the Pantone Huey device - with its $89 list price now, I expect it to be retailing below $50 when Vista hits the streets. The Huey is an OEM product from Gretag, if my info is correct, and this means swiss-designed hardware, and good quality control.

The Huey adds an interesting twist to calibration, as the sensor sits next to your monitor and continually feeds real information about ambient lighting to the computer. With Vista's measurement-based WCS capablities, this could mean that color is readjusted to match not only the ambient illumination intensity but also the fluctuation of color temperature with varying daylight or mixed lighting.

Of course, we can expect Gretag Macbeth to release a low-priced product of their own soon, before the Huey knocks the bottom out of the i1Display sales in the photo channel; also, I wonder how they're feeling at ColorVision, the company that makes the Spyder, the moderate-cost and moderately precise calibration product previously marketed by Pantone. As for Xrite, well guys looks like youre gonna have to lower prices too, but at least no one has ever complained about your product's quality !

Last, not least, about my tag-line: I would expect the Huey to be a favorite "bonus" item soon in the channel with Photoshop or Epson printer bundles, and hopefully a few screen makers will finally see the light and bundle calibrators with displays...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Nec Spectraview 2180WG non-uniformity correction

If you have $6K to burn you can go out and buy a wide gamut Nec Spectraview 2180WG monitor and see all of Adobe RGB on your screen - but if you're a tech fetishist like me, with no money, then the Nec Spectraview 2180WG tech documentation will have to do, I guess.

One interesting interesting innovation incorporated in this monitor is the ColorComp 3d table (page 6) that mods individual pixels to compensate for display non-uniformity. My guess is the folded backlight system that mixes the LED light is not good enough at evening out illumination across the panel, and also some underperforming LEDs can always creep in to the production line, so it's smarter to try and improve matters with a "local profile". Nec would have you believe is that this is something they added out of the goodness of their hearts to compensate for uneven panels, as supplied.

I wonder how long it'll take until LED backlight panels come into general use.