X-Rite Coloratti Robin Myers on the new i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer

     

by Brenda K. Hipsher – June 19th, 2012

First Impressions of the New X-Rite i1Pro 2 Hardware

by Robin D. Myers

In time to lift spirits from the annual US income tax filing deadline, well, more probably in time for Drupa, X-Rite announced the i1Pro 2 spectrometer on April 11. This is the first major change to the i1Pro hardware in about 10 years, so I had to check it out. While the new i1Pro 2 is about the same size in width and length as its predecessor, it has a lower height which gives it a much slimmer appearance. Where the original has a glossy, smooth surface, the new one has a rubberized finish which, when combined with the recessed measurement button, provides a nice non-slip feel in the hand.

On the bottom is a new sensor for use with the redesigned chart measurement ruler. The instrumentʼs top now has two large white “parentheses” which are measurement status indicators, changing color and flashing patterns to indicate good or bad measurements. The original i1Pro had a non-removable measurement head cover. With the optics recessed in the nose cone, the only way to clean them was to blow air into the aperture and hope the dust blew out instead of recirculating inside. This worked somewhat, but adhered grime required a trip back to X-Rite for cleaning. The i1Pro 2 has a removable head cover, to allow easy cleaning of the opticsʼ protective cover glass. It is like opening a pickle jar to get the nose cone moved to the unlocked position, but once unlocked the cover glass is easily accessible.

One difference with the new i1Pro 2 is not outwardly visible. Previously, there were two i1Pro versions; one with a UV blocking filter installed in the measurement head, the other without. This was a factory installed option so the choice had to be made prior to purchase. The i1Pro 2 has a dual illuminant system; a tungsten bulb and a UV LED. By combining these two in various ways, reflective measurements can be made with illumination by tungsten only, tungsten and UV, or without UV. This is a welcome improvement to those users that needed two instruments; normal and UV cut, in order to make the appropriate measurements for their color management situations. Now It is all in the same instrument. Even something as simple as the calibration plate has been redesigned with two new features. The first is a slide which covers the white calibration tile. This helps protect the tile from dirt, dust and fingerprints. When retracted, the second improvement is revealed; a larger calibration tile, in an easier to clean position.

All the measurement accessories are improved too. The method for attaching accessories to the instrument has been changed. The original i1Pro had its extras attached to the measurement head. The i1Pro 2 has a slot just below the USB connector where tabs on the accessories slide into for mounting. This is an important improvement. With the original monitor holder, the i1Pro was held onto a screen by the measurement head. When measuring laptop computer screens, the instrumentʼs USB cable would extend into the keyboard, sometimes depressing keys, making it problematic to position the i1Pro properly. With the monitor holder attachment point at the USB end, the cable now protrudes upward, no longer depressing keyboard keys. Thank you X-Rite!

For the spot measurement accessory X-Rite went back to the future. The previous accessory was an ungainly tear-drop device with a large dorsal fin used to hold and move the device. This required two hands to operate; one for the aiming device, the other for the spectrometer. The original i1Proʼs predecessor was the Spectrolino, which used a stapler type mechanism, attached at its base, for spot measurements. The i1Pro 2ʼs spot device is similar, attaching at the instrumentʼs bottom end and operating with a similar stapler motion. This permits one-handed operation, freeing the other hand to hold or position the subject.

The Beamer Holder for the original i1Pro was itʼs biggest disappointment. This device held the i1Pro in a way that pointed it at screens for calibrating and profiling projection displays. It worked, but because it was mounted at the measurement head the ambient filter could not be attached on the instrument at the same time. So lighting measurements could only be made handheld, compromising their repeatability. It had a tripod mounting socket on the bottom of its base, but without the ambient filter attached there was rarely a reason to put it on a tripod. For the i1Pro 2 this accessory has been renamed the “tripod holder” and now consists of two parts; the instrument holder and a base plate. The base plate is a heavy metal disk with a 1/4-20 stud which allows it to to be screwed underneath the tripod holder for tabletop measurements, or removed to allow the holder to be mounted onto a tripod. Like the other accessories, it attaches to the instrument at the bottom end. The aiming armature has a wide range of motion; from pointing straight forward for video projection screens to straight up for viewing booth measurements. I have been waiting years for the ability to have the ambient filter attached while the instrument is attached to a tripod, so this new holder is greatly appreciated. When I first opened the i1Pro 2 package, I could not find the ambient filter and its protective cap, which has been a  standard feature of all the i1Pro packages since the Revision B model. Thinking that I had purchased the wrong i1Pro 2 kit, I contacted XRite to find out how much it would cost to undo my mistake. My father might have said “I was blind in one eye and couldnʼt see out the other”, but Brenda Hipsher of X-Rite was more tactful, simply noting that what I thought was a design feature on the tripod holderʼs base was actually the protective cap with the ambient filter underneath. Practical and clever, well done X-Rite.

The last measurement accessory in the kit is the target strip measuring device. While the white backing plate is exactly the same as with the previous i1Pro, the ruler is completely redesigned. Gone is the plastic one that sagged in the middle; changing the instrument to target distance, and thus affecting the measurement results. In its place is an aluminum ruler which holds the i1Pro 2 solidly with little side-to-side wobble. The new ruler keeps the instrument at a uniform height above the target, reducing the patch to patch measurement variation. Along one edge of the ruler is a line of white and black stripes. An optical sensor on the bottom of the i1Pro 2 reads these bars to determine the speed and position of the instrument as it is moved across the chart. Color patterns displayed with the instrumentʼs top LEDs give feedback about a good or bad strip measurements, if a second measurement of the strip must be made to get UV fluorescence data, and if the instrument was moved too quickly across the strip.

Lest you think that I am completely enamored of the new i1Pro 2 hardware, there is one item where X-Rite stumbled. When the equipment case is set down on the floor there are no feet to keep it upright. The tapered sides, combined with an off-center of gravity, make the kit fall over every time. A small oversight on X-Riteʼs part, but it is one of those things that can drive you nuts. All together the new i1Pro 2 is a great improvement on its predecessor. It shows that XRite has been listening to its users and consultants, answering their requests with a well thought out package (except the missing feet).
©2012 Robin D. Myers

Special thanks to Robin Myers for this review of X-Rite i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer and accessories.  Robin Myers Imaging specializes in commercial photography of fine art and products requiring highly accurate color reproduction and provides consulting services in the areas of color science and photography. You will also find color management and analysis products including X-Rite solutions available. Learn more about Robin Myers Imaging at rmimaging.com.

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