Reviews |Datacolor Spyder X2 UltraDatacolor

Datacolor Spyder X2 UltraDatacolor Review

Datacolor Spyder X2 Ultra
Review

Price when reviewed

£299

$299
Check current price

Our Verdict

The Spyder X2 Ultra is a significant upgrade from the Spyder X, while looking physically identical the major changes have happened under the bonnet with the new slick software offering a fast and simple way to calibrate your displays.

The calibration process, involving 76 automated steps, is impressively fast and aside from a little footwork at the start ticking boxes requires little prior knowledge of displays and calibration, and can accommodate a variety of lighting environments without issue.

Some of the features that really stood out during the test included ambient light monitoring and advanced display analysis. A few minor improvements could be made, such as simplifying the LED type identification for monitors, but these minor drawbacks do not detract from its overall value.

Priced at £300, it is a substantial investment, but if you take colour accuracy seriously or work professionally it is essential.

For

  • Revamped Software Design
  • Efficient Display Calibration
  • High-Brightness Monitor Support

Against

  • Pricey Investment
  • No cable tidy

What is the Spyder X2 Ultra?

The Spyder X2 Ultra is the latest offering from Datacolor, taking display calibration to a new level of speed and efficiency. While retaining the physical resemblance to its predecessor, the Spyder X Pro, the X2 Ultra brings notable enhancements in its tech and features. A major change is the connector, which now is a USB Type-C, replacing the Type A, although an adapter is thoughtfully included in the box.

What distinguishes the Spyder X2 Ultra is its completely revamped software. More modern in design, the new software manages to maintain the ease of use that I liked with the previous version, you can check out the Spyder X Pro review here while offering a fresh, updated look.

The Spyder X2 comes in two versions: the Elite priced at £250 and the Ultra at £300. The significant difference between the two lies in their ability to handle monitor brightness. While the Elite model is suitable for most users, the Ultra is designed to calibrate monitors with brightness levels from 750-2000 cd/m2 (nits), making it ideal for users with high-brightness displays, although it will also handle more common brightness displays like the one attached to my MacBook Pro 16-inch at only 400 nits brightness.

Specification

  • Device: Datacolor Spyder X2 Ultra
  • Type: Monitor Calibration Device
  • Connection: USB Type-C (Adapter to Type-A Included)
  • Software Compatibility: Windows 7 (64-bit) and above; MacOS X 10.10 and above
  • Monitor Brightness: Calibrates monitors with brightness levels from 750-2000 cd/m2 (nits)
  • Dimensions: 65 x 65 x 37 mm (2.6 x 2.6 x 1.46 in)
  • Weight: 45g (1.6 ounces)

Build and Handling

The Spyder X2 Ultra maintains the design principles of its predecessor, the Spyder X, with minor tweaks that enhance its functionality. The primary physical difference lies in the connection – the X2 uses a USB type-C rather than a type-A connector. The graphics on the body also change in line with the update to the name, but really that’s it when it comes to any changes or lack of in the design. Essentially the design of the device works, with the counterweight doubling as the lens cover.

Essentially the device splits into two parts, with the detachable lens cover, that doubles as the counterweight staying attached to the data cable. This clever design allows the cover to counterweight when the device is positioned on the monitor for calibration, ensuring stability.

When it comes to the ambient light reading, the device’s body has a 1/4-inch thread, enabling easy placement on a mini tripod.

Datacolor Spyder X2 Ultra

This calibration device, like the previous generation is made from high-quality plastic, and built to withstand the rigours of everyday use. If its durability is anything like the Spyder X, it should easily survive life in the side pocket of a kit bag. However, it’s slightly disappointing that the device doesn’t have a semi-hard case for added protection.

If there were one thing that I would change about the design, or add, that would be some form of cable management. The cable for the Spyder X is quite long to accommodate different-sized monitors, however, there’s no neat way to keep the cable tidy which can be an issue.

Features

The Spyder X2 Ultra packs in an impressive array of features, notably expanding on the advanced colourimeter technology of its predecessor, the Spyder X. At the heart of the X2 Ultra lies an expanded X2 sensor with lens-based capabilities, specifically designed to calibrate a wider range of colour and brightness, even managing the HDR/high-brightness monitors that reach up to 2000 nits.

This enhanced capacity makes it an excellent choice for photography as well as video production and digital design. It’s particularly beneficial if you work with HDR content or high brightness monitor, which at present I don’t and at present I don’t have access to a high brightness monitor to test out some of these features.

The redesigned software is the biggest change visually to the Spyder X2 and offers a cleaner, more concise UI experience. A shift to a USB-C connection, with an included USB-A adaptor, increases convenience, especially for Mac users.

Datacolor Spyder X2 Ultra

The Spyder X2 Ultra provides plenty of colour control capabilities: High Brightness Workflow, Video & Cinema Targets (Rec. 709, Rec.2020), Advanced Display Mapping & Analysis, unlimited calibration settings, Soft Proofing, and Studio Match for multiple monitor calibration. These options are all available through the software and can be explored as you become familiar with the process of calibration.

The device’s ambient light monitoring and advanced display analysis add extra layers of control.

Performance

Setting up the Spyder X2 Ultra is simple, with the Quick Start Guide walking you through the setup process. The instructions are clear and concise, so there’s no guesswork or worry if you’ve never used a calibration device. Essentially, the steps are straightforward: plug in the device, register and activate, and then follow the onscreen prompts.

The software is downloaded from the Datacolor Website, alongside the Quick Start Guide and full manual, the Quick Start Guide should give you everything you need. After installation, plugging in the Spyder X2 automatically activates and registers the device, which also starts the warranty.

after the initial registration and connection, the calibration process can start with placing the device over your monitor when prompted. To ensure the device stays in place the lens cap doubles as a counterweight to keep the colorimeter in place during calibration. It’s a clever design feature that adds to the ease of use.

Datacolor Spyder X2 UltraWhen it comes to calibration, the Spyder X2 Ultra shines. The device delivered impressive results, noticeably improving the brightness and colour accuracy of displays connected to the laptop. Even my already calibrated main laptop display benefited from a recalibration, demonstrating the Spyder X2 Ultra’s precision.

The software interface has received a significant overhaul from the previous version. The new style is fresh and user-friendly, making the calibration process even smoother. The ability to set up different profiles for various display standards, such as REC 709, is particularly handy for those working in broadcast media and once the calibration process is complete you can set reminders to recalibrate at future intervals.

Both the advanced display analysis and ambient light monitoring features have proved beneficial with previous versions of the Spyder X. Ambient light monitoring is useful for long hours of work, adapting to changing daylight and room brightness. The advanced display analysis highlights any inconsistencies one may overlook with daily use. It’s a valuable tool that can prevent settling for less-than-optimal display quality.

One of the standout features was the multiple monitor calibration, which proved incredibly helpful in professional settings, ensuring consistent colour accuracy across different screens. The transition to a USB Type-C connector was a small but welcome improvement, increasing convenience.

The Spyder X2 Ultra performed as expected, with no issues with the hardware or software during setup or usage. It’s a tool that does what it promises to do, delivering accurate colour calibration in an easy-to-use package.

Final thoughts

The Spyder X2 Ultra reaffirms Datacolor’s commitment to delivering top-tier display calibration tools accessible by all levels of photographers, from novice to professional.

The Spyder X2 Ultra is simple to use from the straightforward setup process through to the actual calibration and more advanced features such as the display analysis. The Spyder X2 Ultra delivers impressive precision, noticeably enhancing the colour accuracy and brightness of multiple displays.

For professional photographers, the Spyder X2 Ultra is really and essential. The ability to create specific calibration profiles for different display standards and the multiple monitor calibration feature ensure consistent, accurate colour reproduction across all screens.

 

The updated software interface is sleek and intuitive, the transition to a USB Type-C connector adds a layer of convenience, and the inclusion of features like ambient light monitoring and advanced display analysis make the Spyder X2 Ultra a comprehensive calibration solution.

The Spyder X2 Ultra delivers on its promise of enhanced display calibration, making it a worthwhile investment for anyone serious about colour accuracy. Those who are already using the Spyder X will see less of a benefit, but the new interface and switch to USB type-C might make it worth considering.

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