Star Product: X-Rite i1

Noli Dinkovski
Thursday, April 7, 2011

The colour firm's latest suite of software has something for everybody

When was the software launched and what market is it aimed at?
X-Rite’s latest-generation i1 colour management software was previewed at last year’s Ipex, but its official launch was just two days ago (6 April). X-Rite’s image and media applications manager Martin Cusack says the product is targeted at pretty much everybody concerned with colour management, from consultants and designers to professional photographers and, of course, those working in pre-media. Cusack says the software has been beta-tested with a number of users and feedback has been "extremely positive".

What packages are available?
The i1 Basic Pro, i1 Photo Pro and i1 Publish Pro all come with an i1 Pro spectrophotometer and i1 Publish software, which can also be bought as a standalone package. The i1 Publish uses brand new i1 Profiler software, which is driven by the i1 Prism, an engine that enables the user to build printer profiles for up to eight-colour workflows (RGB, CMYK and CMYK plus four colours). X-Rite says i1 Profiler is a combination of the best features from its iMatch, ProfileMaker and MonacoProfiler colour management software.

How do the packages differ?
The i1 Basic Pro is the simplest package but includes everything you need to create custom ICC monitor profiles. It can also be upgraded at any time. The i1 Photo Pro is designed to help photographers manage RGB workflow from camera to display and projector to print. The il Publish Pro has more comprehensive ICC profiling features including a display quality assurance function to check soft proofing for ISO and a printer quality assurance function to check print quality using ISO media wedges.

How does it compare to previous X-Rite colour management software?
Cusack says the i1 Profiler produces higher-quality profiles than X-Rite’s older software. "The final end result, the shadow areas, the highlights and the skin tones are all far better than ever," he explains. "That’s not to say they were bad before – they were very good. It’s just that now they are fantastic." Those happy with ProfileMaker but tempted by the upgrade should note that X-Rite is happy for you to keep the old software and will continue to support it.

What’s its USP?
Rather than promote one standout USP, Cusack says there are a number of key features that give the product an edge over its rivals. Most notably, the amount of available colour patches has been doubled to 6,000 and the fact that X-Rite has also included, for the first time, the ability to import Pantone colours through its Pantone Colour Manager. Another innovation is that the user is now able to save workflow profiles, go back and fine-tune them at a later date. For added security, all packages come with a dongle that effectively acts as a hardware key to enable the user access to the licensed product.

How easy is it to use?
X-Rite is keen to emphasise  i1 colour management software provides customers with a "clear upgrade path based on tried-and-tested technology they know and trust". To accommodate new users, however, it has added a new basic ‘wizard-driven’ interface. In the advanced setting, all saved workflows are displayed as icons at the bottom of the screen, so if the user wanted to, say, look at some test images, all they have to do is drag and drop them onto the icon. "If the printer and customer both have the software, one can simply email a workflow to the other who can then drag it into their settings," explains Cusack. "It really is that simple."

What level of service support can users expect?
All the packages come with training videos, which try to address as many user questions as possible. X-Rite has visited a number of its extensive network of dealers to talk through the software, and it is currently in the process of setting up webinars to provide knowledge to both dealers and users. Cusack says the dealers should be the first port of call should any issues arise with the product, but X-Rite does provide additional online support if needed.

SPECIFICATIONS
Platform PC, Mac
Optical resolution 10nm
Physical sampling interval 3.5nm
Spectral data 380-730nm (in 10nm steps)
Measurement aperture 4.5mm diameter
Interface USB 1.1
Accessories included Calibration plate, USB cable, monitor holder, positioning target, scanning ruler, light measurement head
Price
i1 Publish (software only), £920
i1 Basic Pro, £920
i1 Photo Pro, £1,289
i1 Publish Pro, £1,750
Contact
X-Rite 01625 871100

ALTERNATIVES
BasicColor MasterSuite This software bundle includes a variety of profiling tools for scanners, digital cameras and monitors. The German software maker claims its easy-to-follow software guides are ideal for those who don’t have a detailed knowledge of colour management.
Platform PC, Mac
Price £2,640 (€3,000)
Contact BasicColor +49 8856 932505

EFI Color Profiler Suite Fiery Color Profiler Suite consists of the ES-1000 Spectrophotometer and a suite of software tools designed for Fiery-based colour workflows. Features include a colour verification assistant that can diagnose and identify the causes of unexpected or problematic colour output.
Platform PC, Mac
Price from £2,065
Contact EFI +31 2065 588000

Heidelberg Prinect Color Toolbox The Prinect Color Toolbox supports a wide range of measurement instruments, which Heidelberg claims offers the flexibility to measure "virtually anything with anything". Other features include long-term trend analysis, proof profile iteration, quality certificates and proof labels.
Platform PC
Price from £3,500
Contact Heidelberg UK 0844 892 2010

KodakColorFlow Kodak’s colour control software is available as either a standalone product or an integrated system within Kodak’s Prinergy workflow. It can be set up to match any of the current international standards and formats, and ink optimisation is an optional extra.
Platform PC, Mac
Price ColorFlow Pro £4,400 (€5,000), with ink optimisation £10,570 (€12,000)
Contact Kodak GCG 0845 602 5991

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