• Price When Reviewed: 319.15

  • Pros: Unique combination of functions; easy-to-use software; well-designed.

  • Cons: Painful installation; poor manual.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10 Best Buy We rate this 9 out of 10

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Pantone wins no points for the software installation process. As soon as we launched it, it checked online for updates and downloaded a 267MB (Windows) or 168MB (Mac) installer file – which is annoying and makes you ask why the company bothered to include a disc in the first place. The manual is also poorly laid-out, but again the software is so simple to use that the manual actually makes using the ColorMunki more difficult – and is best used to line a hamster cage.

Monitor and printer calibration is a doddle, with video instructions included for the technologically inept. We were especially impressed with the printer calibration, as using such devices is normally trickier than rocking a rhyme (on time) and requires hardware costing twice that of the ColorMunki. Users don’t need to waste time monotonously scanning hundreds of individual swatches or use a clunky plastic frame. Run the ColorMunki by hand over printouts of lines of colours and the device will (usually) pick up the results easily.

If you want to incorporate the colour of a found object or favourite jumper, you can capture it using the ColorMunki. The device does pretty well with textured fabrics and other multi-layered objects – though it can’t recognize metallics or other non-flat colours. Using this colour, the ColorMunki Design software can create palettes based on harmonics (such as complementary colours), variations and similar colours – à la Adobe’s Illustrator CS3 or online Kuler service. As with Kuler, there’s an Web site for users to share colour palettes.

The software will also show you how your colours will look using different printers, including both its own inks and common printer colour profiles such as Euroscale. It can also create colour palettes based around colours you select or, impressively, based on the overall colour tones of images (such as from photographs, as below).

These palettes can be used in design applications, with Pantone’s software automatically syncing your palettes with Photoshop, InDesign, QuarkXpress, and so on. However, the software found Photoshop CS3, but we had to add InDesign manually.

The ColorMunki is a top-notch, innovative device with some very well-thought out software behind it – and it’s better-designed, slicker in use and substantially lower-priced than its nearest rival, the £503 Colour Confidence Profiler. Check this out.