SpyderX Elite monitor calibrator review

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 10 out of 10We rate this 10 out of 10We rate this 10 out of 10We rate this 10 out of 10We rate this 10 out of 10 Best Buy We rate this 10 out of 10

  • Price When Reviewed: £225.48

  • Pros: Super-speedy calibration of your monitor, laptop or projector

  • Cons: There's not much to tempt those already using the Spyder5 model

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Datacolor's sleek new colorimeter is their fastest yet at calibrating your monitor's colour range – but is it enough to make you ditch older models?

Datacolor are the go-to brand for colour calibration, and their Spyder5 Elite has been used in the Digital Arts office for our monitor reviews a good while now.

The Spyder5 range used to be the company's most recent, but with the newly released X series – as featured in our guide to Best Monitor Calibrators - we now see the usually black calibrators turn white and seemingly following Apple's iPhone naming pattern.

You can't use the SpyderX Elite on your phone - not that you'd want to - but you can use it to calibrate monitors, laptops and projectors to see if you're getting the colour coverage needed as a visual creator.

There are two models in the SpyderX range, with the Elite coming in at the highest price point above the SpyderX Pro. There's £70/$80 of difference between the two, and with the £225/$270 price tag there might be some creatives out there wondering if they'd be better in saving up that money towards a self-calibrating monitor such as the Eizo ColorEdge CG2730. 

Some of you out there may also already own a Spyder5 and wonder if it's worth the upgrade; find out all you need to know in our SpyderX Elite review.

Out of the Box...

The new Datacolor SpyderX Elite both looks and feels better than previous generations. In shape it's an upside down version of the Spyder5, and in feel it's a much sturdier bit of kit. The cable is a less scraggly cord, and the colorimeter itself is bigger and wider than previous gens.

Like all Datacolor Spyders, the Elite isn't plug in and play. You'll need to download the free software for it first, with a url to the download available on a card within the box. We'll save you the time by giving you the link here to get the SpyderX software for both Windows and Mac.

Installation is easy, just remember to take out the Elite to find the serial number printed below it in the bottom of your box.

You'll need to give your email address to sign up, and you can use the same one across multiple devices.

...And onto your screen

With your software ready, it's now time to calibrate your monitor. If you're not sure what that entails then we've made a handy guide for you here on how to calibrate your monitor.

Like previous Spyders, the process is easy, but with the Elite it's a whole lot speedier.

We managed to run a 48 colour swatch test within two minutes, just as advertised on the Datacolor site. It's definitely the fastest colorimeter you can buy out there; the fastest ever, by our reckoning.

The rest of the testing is business as usual, with room light monitoring, multiple monitor support and an easily decipherable display analysis. sRGB, Adobe RGB and DCI P3 spaces are all included in the test.

One difference noted when testing is this calibrator asks for access to your calendar when you go to output your results. Previous versions have date stamped results just fine without this sort of access, and denying it didn't make any difference to the final PDF created.

We can forgive the calendar part, but then the Elite asks for access to your contact list, which we found a bit invasive. If you're ever in the position where you need to email results to someone, then fine, but the Elite interface doesn't actually have an in-built email option. What then is the point of this access, Datcolor? 

Differences between SpyderX and Spyder5

Aside from the speed factor, another key difference between this Spyder and older versions is the introduction of Printer Softproofing and Mobile/Tablet Simulation.

You can select this on software startup to see how your images will look on devices like the iMac and tablets including the Google Nexus. There's even a series of printer outputs you can check.

All useful stuff, but we were surprised to find that in terms of Apple tablets it only simulates the output of 2012's iPad 3. A bizarre thing to see in 2019 what with the iPad Pro and all.

Everything else with the SpyderX Elite mirrors the Spyder5 Elite, including its rather clunky interface, unfortunately.

As with older versions, it can be hard to exit certain screens as there's no Back option, meaning you have to close down and restart. This won't affect you in the testing phase as return options are thankfully there, but it does make you wonder what Datacolor has against good UX. A seasoned consumer will probably do fine, but for anyone whose Elite is their first Spyder, clicking around curiously may lead to some frustration.

The Digital Arts verdict

As an artist or designer, the SpyderX Elite is a safe bet to buy as your first colorimeter. It checks your Adobe RGB output in record time, and there's a new Before and After option where you can see how an image looked under your old monitor settings compared to now.

If the Elite isn't your first monitor calibrator, then you're not missing out on too much if you're simply calibrating as part of your workflow. Photographers are better served by this model's various other features, along with those who work primarily in print.

The speed factor is a bonus, but we doubt many digital artists and designers are too disenchanted with the process time of the Spyder5. We certainly weren't.

If using anything older than a Spyder5, or something simple like an X-Rite ColorMunki, then we heavily suggest upgrading to SpyderX. Buying a Spyder5 won't save you that much money as prices for those are not much different, we've noticed.

The cheaper SpyderX Pro remains an option, but as mentioned in our intro, it's a £70/$80 difference. As a serious creative investing in a colorimeter, you may as well go all out.

Read next: Best monitor calibrators

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