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HP DreamColor Monitor as a CRT Replacement

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HP DreamColor Monitor: A CRT Replacement? YES!
A Creative COW Review

HDSLRs for Video

Jeremy Garchow

Jeremy Garchow
Chicago, Illinois USA
© 2010, All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Thanks to its 10-bit color and advanced calibration toolset, the HP DreamColor display has naturally been seen as a strong choice for color grading, animation, and VFX monitoring. Creative COW Contributing Editor Jeremy Garchow has also found it to be a stellar choice for broadcast HD editing, offering exceptional performance at a breakthrough price. There's a little more to the story than that, including some important tips about working the DreamColor into your facility. Read on for Jeremy's real-world report on why he bought the DreamColor, and how he's using it.


The HP DreamColor LP2480xz Professional Display was released in 2008, which raises the question, why do a new review in 2010? The answer is simple: even two years after it hit the streets, no oher 10-bit monitor looks this good, at this price.  

So before we get to Jeremy's review, a speedy refresher on the HP DreamColor display, which was developed in a close collaboration with DreamWorks Animation. This wasn’t a marketing gimmick springing from HP’s need for cachet and a clever name. DreamWorks was (and is) a paying customer, banging on the door for a better tool for mission-critical color work. To that end, along with the monitor, HP offers the DreamColor Advanced Profiling Solution, which includes Windows and Mac software, and an HP-branded colorimeter licensed from X-Rite, the industry leaders in color science who are HP’s “Color Technology Partner.”

The juicy goodness holding it all together is the DreamColor Engine. Yes, there is a literal engine in the monitor – a CPU that HP has programmed for color management.  The display itself is built specifically for HP by LG Display (most definitely NOT a licensed version of off-the-shelf components as other reviews have stated), along with considerable development on firmware, which is also updateable.

The DreamColor is a true 30-bit monitor, which is to say, 10 bits each of red, green and blue. While a typical monitor with 8 bits of R, G and B displays 16.7 million colors, the DreamColor displays 1.07 billion colors. This is invaluable if you work with 10-bit material, of course, but having 1 billion colors to choose from increases the accuracy in representing the colors in your 8-bit files as well.

(Here, a loud mooing from Bessie serves to remind us: we are using “1 billion” on the “short scale,” commonly used in the English-speaking world – 1000 million, or 109. For cows in lands using the “long scale,” 1 billion equals 1 million million, or 1012 – what we in “short scale” countries call 1 trillion. So while Bessie herself speaks 14 languages, she is using the English “billion” here.)

To view the COW in any of 14 languages, click the appropriate flag in the upper right of the COW home page. Below, Bessie speaking Hindi.
Creative COW in 14 languages

Here are some additional notes about the DreamColor display and the DreamColor Engine driving it.

At the most basic level, this engine has three key parts: a 1D LUT that takes in the RGB signal, a 3x3 matrix multiplier, and a 1D LUT that feeds the LCD panels. The first LUT essentially linearizes the output of the display card, with the goal of performing all color space transformations in linear space (sometimes referred to as linear light). . The 3x3 matrix is where the “heavy lifting,” if you will, of the color space conversion takes place. The second LUT is there to “re-Gamma” the linear data, taking into account the native response of the panel, so that it will display correctly. 

HP DreamColor Engine

While the connection to DreamWorks, as well as the requirement for progressive RGB input reveals its roots in 10-bit file-based workflows, the DreamColor is every bit as much intended as a CRT replacement. For details on how it works in the real world of HD broadcast editing, we pinged Jeremy Garchow, one of the industry’s most respected production and post-production experts, and a Creative COW Contributing Editor. He is also a straight-up video guy who wanted to replace his old CRTs, but didn’t see plasmas or LCDs that made the grade (so to speak).

Jeremy took the DreamColor for an eval spin, and liked what he saw so much that he bought one. Here’s why.


My old CRT HD monitor was going to get moved to another room as we built out another HD suite, so I was going to get a new monitor.  I had two requirements, 10bit and don't break the bank.  We take the effort to shoot 10bit, I wanted to make sure I can at least monitor it as I could with my Sony PVM 20L5/1. I would love to be able to afford the higher end 10 bit flat panels, but it just wasn't in the cards for me. 

Enter, the DreamColor, both 10bit and “cost effective” -- 2-4 times less than competitors.  I am of the school that you get what you pay for so was the monitor going to be good, or at least good enough for now? 
I scored a demo unit and figured out right away this monitor has a few caveats.  You must use the $300 HP DreamColor Advanced Profiling Systemcalibrator to truly color calibrate the monitor, and for the “DreamColor Engine” to work. In other words, in order for the monitor to display the proper Rec. 709 (or another user defined video color space/gamma) the monitor must get a true progressive signal, and it must be RGB. 

The monitor is equipped with HDMI 1.3a, which supports 10bit per channel depth, but HDMI can be interlaced or progressive. Many capture cards and even stand alone converters might be HDMI 1.3a capable, but most of them will simply pass through the given SDI signal.  So, I now needed to track down the AJA HDP2 which will output both an HDMI 1.3a signal (via an inexpensive DVI to HDMI cable) and it will also output progressive images all the time as RGB (as opposed to Rec. 709 YUV).

Now, most of the time at our shop we are operating in either 720 or 1080p. As I wrote about in Creative COW Magazine's New Visions Issue, we have the Panasonic HPX2000, and we have also been using the HPX2700, the HPX3000, all in AVC-I. We also use the HPX170 and 200 as B or C cams, and we occasionally get a job in HDCAM 1080 psf. We have also started to receive 1080 ProRes HQ files from AJA KiPros.  I'd say we shoot 70% 720p and 30% 1080psf. This means that if you have an HDMI 1.3a capable capture card (such as a Kona LHi) the DreamColor does not need the HDP2 if you are monitoring 720p or 1080p footage.

That is, 1080 true P, not PsF (Progressive Segmented Frames). With the Kona, as of right now, you can't output P and PsF simultaneously. That means if you need to lay off 23.976, 25, or 29.97 PsF to tape AND monitor your footage out of the capture card, you can't do this with a DreamColor, as the engine will shut off once the card is set to PsF. All video is then displayed as full range RGB, which totally skews color and gamma. If you want your image to be displayed as shot, the DreamColor engine needs to be on.

So, after buying the HDP2, I realized it is the right gear to have, even if you work in 720p or 1080p most of the time.  It literally takes out the guess work if you set the HDP2 to simply output true progressive images all day all the time. Also, since I have a Kona 3 without HDMI, the HDP2 is essential to my setup.  Every once in a while, I will still get SD files that I need to conform to HD. The HDP2 scales SD up to 1920x1080 in to user selectable aspect ratio (pillar box, zoom, etc.). Without the HDP2, I wouldn't be able to see the SD files and determine the best way to conform. 


(Speaking of SD, I was actually very impressed with the HDP2 scaling when watching SD footage on the DreamColor.  It’s hard to get nice looking SD on one of today's flat panel monitors, and coupled with the HDP2, the DreamColor gets the job done pretty darn well.)

When first setting it up, though, make sure to download the recent MiniConfig software for Mac and update the HDP2 firmware. You’ll need to make some adjustments out of the box – everything is set to “Auto,” and that’s not always correct. Instead, set your colorspace to Deep Color and SMPTE.  


Ed. note: in a recent Creative COW forum post, Jeremy had a bit more to add about the HDP2.

"Why do you suggest the HDP2? Wouldn't the AJA Hi5 3G converter be the better choice for me? Since the HP needs a HDMI 1.3 or DisplayPort input to go into DeepColor mode, seems to me that would be the way to go, no?"

No. You can search this forum and read other posts on the topic (I have a DreamColor as well) but the HDP2 provides HDMI 1.3a (via a user supplied and inexpensive DVI to HDMI cable) and it also takes whatever signal you are feeding it and makes it true p. So that would allow you HD and SD capability out of the same Kona when working in 1080p(sf) and using the DreamColor. It also allows SD monitoring on the DreamColor. The hi5 3G simply passes through what it's sent and doesn't output true p, effectively disabling accurate color monitoring on the DreamColor.

You will see other posts that the LHi is enough, and in some cases it is, but to me the HDP2 is kind of a no brainer when working in mixed format environments and using a DreamColor monitor. The combo of the Kona LHi, the DreamColor, the HDP2 is still more cost effective than buying 1 of the other HDSDI 10-bit display panels out there. It's still a good deal and a very nice monitor (in my opinion). It won't do 1080p60, but knowing AJA's abilities I am sure a 3G version of the HDP will fix that at some point.

Once you’re certain that you have a properly adjusted signal coming into the HDP2, it’s time to calibrate the DreamColor. Right now, the only way to do this is to use the HP LCD calibration kit.  It measures (among other things) the actual Red, Green and Blue values that are being projected off of your monitor. Then, after the calibration process is complete, the full range of RGB is then mapped to the Rec. 709 (or 601 or whatever you want) color specification and the monitor's gamma is set to 2.4. 

Why 2.4 you ask, when Rec. 709 HD has a specified gamma of 2.2?  Well, I asked that same exact question to HP and I got the answer that, since this monitor was meant as a true CRT replacement, they measured some of the most well regarded CRT production monitors on the market, the Sony BVM series – and the gamma level coming off of those displays is 2.4, which is why they recommend setting the DreamColor’s gamma to 2.4.  If you don't like this, you can select any gamma when creating a color profile, along with adjusting the color of the monitor based on the CIE color space. This, then makes the monitor infinitely flexible to your needs. 

The background of the image below is the CIE 1976 u’v’ Chromaticity Diagram, a 2D representation of all visible colors. Note in particular the Rec. 709 HD color space for HD video, and the degree to which the native gamut for the DreamColor significantly exceeds it.

HP DreamColor gamut vs. Rec. 79

This is a change of pace for most people who use the 'blue only' gun set to SMPTE bars and tweak brightness to the pluge. The 'eye' calibration method reads the actual RGB levels of your particular monitor, and adjusts. The calibration profile (essentially a LUT) is stored in to memory on the monitor itself and can be easily called up for future use in case you need to change the profile for any reason. 

Also, to calibrate what is traditionally known as “Brightness” on CRTs operates a bit differently on the DreamColor. Brightness on the monitor operates independent of "Black Level" on the monitor. That means you can pretty much turn the brightness up and down without changing contrast. The change the contrast (and calibrate the pluge) you adjust the black level on the monitor which essentially adds or removes more black – and the black levels on this monitor are fantastic. HP has done a great job.

For more details on the HP DreamColor monitor for use with Apple Color, see the Creative COW Forum thread, "Setting up HP DreamColor LP2480zx monitor for work in Color." Among the posters on that thread offering extended technical details are Greg Staten from HP, and Tom Lianza from X-Rite.

Among the resources also available directly from HP:

Using the HP DreamColor LP2480zx Monitor for Professional Video Applications

Using the HP DreamColor LP2480zx Display with Apple Mac Systems

Digital Color Workflows and the HP DreamColor LP2480zx Professional Display


After the first calibration, this monitor really, really grew on me.  I checked out all the different formats I could throw at it (PAL, NTSC, 720p, 1080psf, 1080p) and liking what I saw, I bought one.  I got the DreamColor, the HDP2, and the LCD calibration kit, and have been pretty much monitoring happily ever after. 

The only downsides are that any firmware updates have to be done by a computer running Windows, you can't tweak sharpness, and calibration requires a computer with either DVI or DisplayPort, and a separate USB cable to attach to the monitor -- but as a package and value, there's nothing out there that offers what the DreamColor can do for this price.






Re: HP DreamColor Monitor as a CRT Replacement
by John Pirtle
Dear Greg,

I just bought a dreamcolor and the photometer tool and I am driving it with a brand new HP z800 with and Nvidia Quadro FX 4800.

I read the advertising that said the monitor could be set to display various colorspaces accurately.

REC 601 Rec 708 and I guess some others for digital cinema.

I am using Avid MediaComposer 5.5.3

I have gotten some messages that say the driver is the wrong one

Do you have a whitepaper on how to use this monitor with Avid as a color grading reference monitor?

Mark Pirtle
Re: HP DreamColor Monitor as a CRT Replacement
by andrew smith
Just to clarify:

You need the APS usb spyder-type unit in order to adjust the gamma to 2.2? that would seem to be a problem as I wanted to be able to just adjust gamma in the menu :(

MacPro 4,1 OSX 10.6.8 / FCS3 / CS5
2.26 ghz 8-core / 24GB RAM
Nvidia GT 120/285 combo
@andrew smith
by Jeremy Garchow
The Calibration probe that is a separate purchase is essential, yes. It's well worth it. You set the color space/gamma, then calibrate. I am not sure if third party calibration tools work, there's a specific one for the DreamColor made in conjunction with XRite.'>http://h10010.

Re: HP DreamColor Monitor as a CRT Replacement
by Spencer Tweed

I am looking at getting a few of these for our studio (specifically for a VFX station and Avid editing station). In the article it mentions using HP's color calibrator which comes at an additional $300. I just purchased the Spyder 3 Elite through my company and am wondering if there is some way of using it instead of the HP device - I literally JUST got the PO approved and would hate to have to now ask for funds to buy an additional device which does essentially the same thing...

- Spencer
Re: HP DreamColor Monitor as a CRT Replacement
by Paul Jay

You do realize that when using a HDP2 ( which works great ) will give you a 8 BIT signal )

As DVI out ( From HDP2 ) , is 8 bit by definition.
@Paul Jay
by Jeremy Garchow
"You do realize that when using a HDP2 ( which works great ) will give you a 8 BIT signal )
As DVI out ( From HDP2 ) , is 8 bit by definition."

A Ha! But that's where it's different. Yes, it is a physical DVI plug, but it is not a DVI signal. Within the AJA Mini Config software you have a choice on whether or not to send a DVI signal or an HDMI signal. As the article states, you then get a cheap DVI to HDMI cable and it is a "deep color" (HDMI 1.3a, 10 bit) signal.

I do not use the DVI port on this monitor, only HDMI. Trust me, it's 10bit! :) I know it's hard to trust me sometimes.

I've attached a screen grab for your reference. Hope this makes some more sense.

Re: HP DreamColor Monitor as a CRT Replacement
by Leigh Hatwell
Hi Kevin and all

I've been living the same "nightmare" for the last 2 years.
Dreamcolor has been replaced 5 times, and I haven't even had
the chance to get any of them to work at the standards they
are supposed to stand up to..... Very Very Very annoying...
And as you have correctly pointed out, the customer support
at HP badly lacks proper profesional support.
Hey! I'd like a DeamColor that f***** works!!
At the beginning I thought I was the only one out of luck, then I thought I was
loosing it, that my eyes where all wrong, that my technical workflow was crap,... but no!! In fact, it is "JUST" an HP screen that doesn't full fill it's standards. I've always had Color issues: green + magenta blotches, color variations, blueish corners... whatever, but a nice Flat grey or what.....

Too bad I guess, but I do hope HP will be doing something about this customer support.


75010 Paris
Re: HP DreamColor Monitor as a CRT Replacement
by dennis summers
I'd like to say that your experience with the unit does seem like bad luck. I've had mine for about a year now, and it still works great (hope that doesn't jinx me.

However your experience with HP in general is spot on. They have absolutely the worst customer service of any corporation that I have ever dealt with. I considered buying a new HP computer, and then decided against it for precisely that reason. I share your frustration with trying to find the right person to speak with. It's an endless, futile task at HP. If it weren't for the price/quality on this monitor, believe me I would have gone elsewhere. I hope that someone from HP reads both our posts, but doubt that anything will change.

Re: HP DreamColor Monitor as a CRT Replacement
by Kevin Cannon
I'm pretty convinced now that the Dreamcolor is no CRT replacement, for reasons having nothing to do with it's ability to create a color-accurate image...

I purchased a Dreamcolor 1 year ago, and the one sitting on my desk is the sixth I have had. Display #1 went dead (black screen, no response to the buttons) with about 200 backlight hours on it. HP replaced the monitor with a used display #2 that had over 2,000 backlight hours on it, and huge problems with magenta "bruises" in the blacks. #3 was also refurbished, with some 1,000 hours on it, and had "bruises." #4 displayed green-magenta color variations when given a flat grey test pattern. Nobody at the company has ever tried tried to argue to me that bruises or color variations are typical of this display, so I continued to send them back.

By display #5 I convinced them that only a new replacement display would do, and so after many months of getting terrible refurbished parts, a brand new Dreamcolor was sent to me and performed admirably.

Until last Thursday, when #5, like #1, died. Is this an unlucky streak for me? Are there environmental variables? Are they manufactured poorly? Are they set on a timer to die within 6 months of use? I'm generally pretty forgiving, so I didn't write this when #5 died. I'm writing because #6 isn't working.

That is not, however, the reason that this monitor is no replacement for a CRT. It is because companies that make CRTs, or their replacements, understand what you will be doing with them, why it's a problem if your display has anomalies, and why you need a resolution immediately. They put you in touch with people who understand the product, they replace defective items quickly, and they don't waste your time.

This monitor is basically not supported by HP. Every department is sure this product is supported by a different department, and you will be met with stunned silence when you ask them escalate this to 3LS Greg Staten. Greg Staten has asked that all calls be escalated to him, but nobody in this company knows who or where he is. The most resourceful of them might find his number, but frankly only have time to write this because I've been abandoned at Greg's voicemail several times today.

And because Greg is not able to coordinate deliveries or replacements, you will be left dealing with the rest of HP, a company that does not understand your business. And you will find yourself, 5 days later, sitting in your office, wondering which will come first, your package from FSI or your call-back from HP.
@Kevin Cannon
by Greg Staten
Hi Kevin.

I'm very sorry to hear about your experience. We've been working to get experienced folks in place in support to prevent these situations from happening, but unfortunately the person that is best at working with this display in support is out on unexpected leave.

Just to note, I'm not in the support organization, but am actually in the displays engineering group within the Displays Business Unit. To help with display issues, though, I can have cases escalated to me personally.

Re: HP DreamColor Monitor as a CRT Replacement
by Greg Staten
Hi David.

APS definitely runs under Windows 7 x64. In fact, that's my primary configuration so the bulk of my testing is with that configuration. That said, you should be running version 2.0 as there are issues with version 1.1 and some Win7 configurations. For some reason APS 2.0 is not yet available for download on, but you can download it directly from X-Rite at:

Re: HP DreamColor Monitor as a CRT Replacement
by Robb Albrecht
After reading all the great info here on the Cow we purchased a DreamColor for our main edit suite. We're driving it with a Kona LHi via HDMI right now but an Aja HDP2 will be here soon. We shoot mainly in 1080p but we always end up having a bunch of mixed formats. So far no complaints at all. The setup and calibration was a breeze.

HP Dreamcolor as Film Grading monitor?
by Harcharan Singh
We are planning to buy this monitor and use the display port from our Quadro 5800 card for film grading of Red footage.Has any one has this experience or doing it and if yes what is the workflow for callinbrating and profiling?
@ Greg
by Rich Wagner
Hi Greg,

I understand that there is a CM engine within the LP2480zx, and that there are matrix multipliers and not traditional LUTs, etc.

Q1. If I calibrate/profile to "full" gamut, what color space am I "calibrating" to?

My understanding was the monitor was first calibrated and the native gamut profiled, and that the smaller color spaces were re-mapped or emulated - not that the monitor is "calibrated" directly to those color spaces. You're saying that the monitor is physically calibrated to the various smaller color spaces, and that the calibrations are different / separate for each color space?

Q2. For the sRGB color space, by definition, the correct TRC is not 2.2, as there is a linear component in addition to the gamma function. Does the LP2480zx use the true TRC of sRGB, or a gamma of 2.2?

I wish the calibration / profiling software ran on my computers, as I now have several interesting tests in my head that I would like to perform.

Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you that HP and X-Rite have solved the OS 10.6.2 issue so that I can calibrate / profile this monitor again. Right now, I have a $350 paperweight and an uncalibrated monitor - regardless of color space.

--Rich Wagner
Color Space
by dennis summers
Thank-you Greg for weighing in on this issue. What you said is precisely what I was hoping to find out. As a side note, I don't imagine that I'm the only one that has such confusion over this rather unique monitor. I downloaded and read all the HP white papers, but couldn't find the answers I was looking for. Do you think someone (maybe you?) could write up even a short page outlining these differences for other folks? I think it would be very useful.

BTW, I love the monitor.

thanx --ds
In the LP2480zx DreamColor you *are* calibrating a color space
by Greg Staten
Hi Rich and Dennis.

Quick clarification. In the LP2480zx DreamColor display you actually *are* calibrating a color space as we have a color space management engine within the display. When you run APS when connected to a DreamColor display you are setting the specific color primaries for the desired color space and the DreamColor engine performs the mathematical translations from the very wide native gamut of the display to the color space you have specified. This is definitely different from your typical display.

As to why the support person at X-Rite said you weren't calibrating a color space, I can only imagine that they were confused and didn't realize you were using a display with a hardware color management engine that stored true color space calibrations in hardware.

@ Rich Wagner
by Nick Wilcox-Brown
Sorry for the cross over & duplication
Re: Color Space
by Nick Wilcox-Brown

Starting from the last point. X-Rite are correct, you are not calibrating to a space, just standardizing color temp / gamma / luminance. The profiling after calibration creates a colour space (specific to the monitor)

I'm not sure which software you are using, but it sounds as though it is limiting the monitor output to the gamut of the defined space, or it is using the gamma / luminance values from the defined space to save you inputting them?

All good monitors will cover sRGB / Rec 709, but fewer will 'do' AdobeRGB (admittedly stills only right now).
Re: Color Space
by Rich Wagner

There are two separate processes that are often rolled into one in software, or the user's mind.

The first is calibration. You calibrate a device (monitor) to certain specifications - but usually NOT to a color space, as was mentioned previously.

Many monitors, for example, cannot be "calibrated" to sRGB because their gamut is smaller than sRGB or doesn't overlap completely with sRGB. You can physically adjust and set the gamma and the white point, and you then have a monitor that is calibrated to those specifications.

In step two, you "profile" the monitor by sending known colors to the screen and then measuring them. NO changes are made to the internal adjustments (calibration) of the device. Software looks at the differences between the two sets of values (ref and measured) and builds an ICC profile that is specific to that device, with that particular calibration. It is highly unlikely that the profile for that device will be identical to the sRGB profile. The "color space" represented by the ICC profile that is built is specific to that particular device.

I can't answer your question about having to choose a color space when calibrating because I can't run the software on OS X Snow Leopard until HP / Adobe fix it. My suspicion is that calibration and profiling are being rolled into one. Also, don't forget that the HP DreamColor monitor can emulate many color spaces by changing the primaries used, since the color spaces emulated are smaller than the gamut of the DreamColor.

Here is what the BasICColor calibration software shows:

You calibrate to a specific white point and TRC, the profile you get depends on the gamut of the monitor.

Hope this helps.

--Rich Wagner
@ Dennis v2
by Jeremy Garchow
You wouldn't get an accurate calibration as you'd be calibrating a LUT instead of calibrating the full color coming off of the monitor.
Re: Color Space
by dennis summers
Thanx to both of you for the answers. But the thing that still confuses me is this. I understand the relationship between the calibration and the profile, but why when I calibrate am I asked to pick a color space (instead of, for example calibrating the full gamut available in the monitor, and then just using the monitor's controls to limit the gamut to a specific space like Rec. 709. I can see that windows has saved a different icm file for each space.), and why does the x-rite tech support tell me that I am not calibrating to a specific color space?

thanx again. --ds
Re: Color Space
by Nick Wilcox-Brown

This explanation may help a little.

Every device has a colour space: printer, monitor, projector, camera. The color space is the maximum range of colors that can be reproduced by that device in a given condition. A monitor may reproduce a wider range of color (have a wider gamut) at 9600k than it does at 6500k for example.

In terms of a monitor calibration, it works like this: the device is calibrated - set to the right gamma (normally 2.2), color temperature (6500k) and luminance (100 cd/m approx). When using software to do this (X-Rite EyeOne Match for instance), a set of known value colour patches are sent to the monitor and the actual value reproduced is measured by a colorimeter or spectrophotometer, suspended in front of the screen. The offset between the known and the measured value creates an .icc (.icm on windows) color profile, which represents the color space for that monitor. Hardware calibration is far more sophisticated, but the result is still a color profile. This is set as the default profile for that monitor in the OS.

I need to add in here (thank you Jeremy) that the Dreamcolor and similar products from other manufacturers, such as Eizo, now store the profiles in memory within the monitor, allowing the benefits of color management when the device is connected via HDMI rather than to a graphics card.

When an image (still or moving) is shown, the known color values of that image from the software are corrected by the OS colour management system, using the monitor .icc / .icm profile, to ensure that the correct colors are reproduced on the screen.

Color management is effectively a translation process - from the color space of your camera, to the color space of the monitor, projector or (in the case of stills) the printer via a Profile Connection Space (PCS), usually CIELAB (which represents the max number of colors that the average human can see) all this is handled by the color management system built into the OS or provided by the likes of Adobe.

Spaces like Rec 709, sRGB and Adobe RGB are synthetic colour spaces that are device independent and allow standardisation for consumer or professional devices. Virtually all consumer compact cameras now output an image in sRGB, even if the image does not contain a profile. Likewise, a still image destined for Final Cut or Premiere should always be converted to sRGB.

Apologies this is brief. I wrote a series of articles on this for Canon Europe's Professional Network and wanted to link you to them, but recent site changes seem to have removed all.

@ Dennis Summers
by Jeremy Garchow
As is briefly explained in the article, the X-Rite eye calibrates the full RGB spectrum that is 'projected' off of the monitor and gathers those values. Then depending on what color space and gamma you need, a LUT of sorts is applied to the gathered calibrated values of the full RGB spectrum.
Color Space
by dennis summers
Hi, this question is for Greg Staton (or maybe anyone else who knows the answer). I am using this monitor with a pc. I understand that color calibration information is stored in the monitor. And that maybe some other information (like monitor profiles) is stored on the pc. I have spoken with a woman in tech support at x-rite who tells me that "you don't calibrate to a color space," which confuses me, because it seems to me that that is precisely what I am doing. I thought that I understood color calibration, but clearly this monitor is somewhat different than a "normal" setup. Can anyone articulate what the differences are, or point me to some sort of white paper on this subject?

thanx --ds
Yup, the same Greg Staten
by Greg Staten
Hi Ron. Yes, I'm the same Greg Staten who used to be at Avid. I left Avid about a year ago to join HP.

Rich: you are correct in that APS 1.1 is not officially qualified for Snow Leopard. Apple just about completely rewrote ColorSync for 10.6 and APS (and virtually every other display calibration program from virtually every company, not just X-Rite) didn't work at all with either 10.6.0 or 10.6.1. After it became apparent that the problem was bugs in ColorSync we reported all of the bugs to Apple in the hopes that they would be addressed and had to punt.

When 10.6.2 was released (which thankfully addressed the issues) we were already too far down the track to run regression tests against that build. There is one issue that appears to be related to the installer which we are actively investigating, but when APS 1.1 is installed it functions completely fine. I've validated calibrations with it against our PR-680 and the calibration measures in-line with where it is supposed to be.

I hope to have more information on ways to work around the installation issues soon and we plan to run full regression testing against a new build once we have it from X-Rite.

I'll keep you all informed regarding the progress.

Re: I'm the DreamColor Solutions Architect here
by Rich Wagner
Hi Greg,

It's good to see that there is someone at HP with a clue about this monitor...

The installer for v1.1.0 states that it is not compatible with Snow Leopard. That has been my experience on two 10.6.2 systems. The app hangs with the start-up screen visible. I've tried going through the OS and searching for anything related to X-rite and / or HP and deleting it (including i1 Match, Profilemaker, the whole works), then re-installing the HP software, but it still hangs.

X-Rite indicated to me that the software was not SL compatible, and that I should write to HP to request compatibility. (Yea, write to whom at HP?)

I'm open to suggestions / recommendations, and I'm not the only Mac user out there having this problem.


--Rich Wagner
Is this the One-and-Same Greg Staten from Avid?
by Ron Lindeboom
When I saw your name, I had to ask: is this the one-and-same Greg Staten who was with Avid?

Whether you are or are another with the same name, it is an honor to have you logging in and interacting here with us.
I'm the DreamColor Solutions Architect here
by Greg Staten
I'm the DreamColor Solutions Architect here at HP and I'd like to comment on a few comments posted thus far.

First off I'd like to apologize for the support issues some of you have been experiencing. Support has instructions to escalate these types of calls to me but they don't always do so. (I'm not in support, but I get directly involved in support issues when I become aware of them.) If you all have problems like this again, please tell the support person to escalate your call to 3LS Greg Staten. Again, I'm not in support so I can't directly manage returns/exchanges/etc, but if a call is escalated to me I can step in, properly diagnose the problem, and get you back up and running.

Regarding Snow Leopard support in APS 1.1, we've been working to track down the issue and I've been in communication with X-Rite regarding this. Though we have more testing to do, the calibration software absolutely works in Snow Leopard - I've done dozens of successful calibrations on my MacPro with 10.6.2, but we know that some folks who previously had 1.0.2 installed are not able to run 1.1 after upgrading. We think we have a handle on the issue and I'm waiting for a response from X-Rite.

Trevor, let's talk. Your experience with the APS kit miscalibrating your display is simply not acceptable. I'd like to discuss ways we can resolve your problems and get your displays properly calibrated.

I'll continue to monitor the comments on this thread and chime in when I can help answer questions.

@Greg Staten
by David Cherniack
Greg, are you still supporting the Dreamcolor in these pastures? If so, will the APS software run under Win 7/64? So far it crashes on launch. It seems to run fine under Vista 64 but I need to calibrate the Dreamcolor from my notebook (and Win 7) as it's the only DVI port free in my whole arsenal. All other computers are hooked into a KVM switch and the Dreamcolor itself is running off a Maxtrox MXO2 (HDMI)


@ Trevor_v2
by Jeremy Garchow
Sorry to hear that. I suggest you contact Greg Staten @ HP. You can find him on the Apple Color forum.
by Trevor Cable
Yes. All of this is true. We did exactly this. Probably 50 times at least. New USB cables, new probe, different computers, with and without the gefen. We use it with one video system and 4 computer attached systems. DVI, HDMI, displayport (with the latest firmware). We are really baffled how every one of our Dreamcolors AND a new one all are set to D70 color space. We are a fairly large studio that puts a lot of resources into color so color management is not new to us. I really wonder if people out there are actually checking the color results on the Dreamcolor or just presuming it is correct because it comes with the presets.

Anyway, thanks for the quick response.
@ Trevor
by Jeremy Garchow
This is all changeable. You need the DreamColor to be hooked up via DVI/Display Port and USB, and have the APS kit hooked in to the monitor via USB. Once you do that you will get a DreamColor option on the calibration software, and you can select and change any parameter you want, then save it after it runs through calibration. If you aren't sending RGB progressive the dreamcolor won't hold your calibration, so maybe your Gefen went bad or changed.

You also might want to update the firmware.
APS kit was bad idea for me
by Trevor Cable
I have had 5 Dreamcolors over the last one year. Out of the box they are great. It was when I purchased the APS kit to maintain the calibration that things went horrible. We use one system in a Flint suite using the Gefen HD-SDI to HDMI unit. Out of the box we had very accurate color. This was our second accurate display in the suite so we had the two displays next to each other. They were spot on with each other. After the default 1000 hours the display tells me it's time to calibrate it so I purchased the APS kit (not to profile, but to calibrate). Since I had the kit we re-calibrated all of the displays as they all had passed 1000 hours. BIG MISTAKE!!! After calibrating the Dreamcolors the native color temperature changed to 7000K from D65. There was an obvious difference between the non Dreamcolor accurate displays and the Dreamcolors. We pulled out both our PR-650 and our i1 Pro's to confirm that the dreamcolors were off. This was 4 months ago. Since then we have purchased a new APS kit in case the other probe was bad. No luck. All 5 Dreamcolors are stuck at 7000K. HP (after a solid month of trying to find someone that didn't think it was a printer) finally agreed to send me a new one because in their words "We don't know anything about the Dreamcolor". I was literally told that by support. But, this person did send me a new unit. Problem is, this new unit out of the box was 7000K. I sent my PR-650 out to be re-certified in case it was the probe. It came back as good as new. Still getting 7000K and it is clearly cooler than the other accurate displays we use (Eizo and Sony HD CRT). We will be switching these units out with Eizo's as the budget allows.

We use software called cineSpace to maintain color in our facility so we are still able to use the Dreamcolors as regular computer monitors as long as we profile them using cineSpace. The APS kit does nothing for us. This is on both Windows and Mac.

The reason for this post is twofold: 1) Be warned that these are not what they are advertised as and 2) if someone at HP reads this and helps us out here I'll gladly re-post and explain that it was all my fault.
@ Nick Wilcox-Brown v2
by Jeremy Garchow
The thing about this monitor, is that you need the color profile to be saved on the actual monitor itself, for video. When hooked up via HDMI and the HDP2 via a video capture card, there's no graphics card driving the monitor, hence no icc profile. That's what makes this monitor a bit different. The memory is in the monitor itself (it has space for 7 presets). The presets are FULL (Full RGB), AdobeRGB, sRGB, Rec 709, DCI-P2 Emulation, and a 'User' option. That's what comes out of the box, then when using the profiling software you can change/rename all the parameters, save it on the monitor, and call them up to your liking.
@Jeremy Garchow
by Nick Wilcox-Brown
that would fit in with my experience - X-Rite were one of the manufacturers that updated their software for Snow Leopard quickly - certainly the free EyeOne match worked from SL day 1, as did ProfileMaker - either of these will generate a good colour profile, albeit without the advantages of the hardware calibration.

@ Ron Lindeboom.
by Jeremy Garchow
When testing the Snow Leopard calibration, it worked for me. I could create a correct profile and save it.

@ will o
by Jeremy Garchow
Are you talking a/v sync or genlock?

If a/v sync, there's a pair of analog audio outs on the HDP2 to keep sync, but I don't use them. I have found the audio and video to be in sync. In order to keep the DreamColor and FCP monitor/timeline in sync, I have found that an offset of 2 should be used with 1080p/psf material and 0 for 720p. That's not bad, even the FSI monitors have some precessing delay. It is the nature of the game in the flat panel display market.

If talking genlock, then yes, there's no separate genlock in to the DreamColor, but if your display card or source is locked, you should be fine.
@ Rich Wagner
by Jeremy Garchow
I have found Hp tech support to be ok, as soon as you reach someone that knows about video. If you get someone that is on the print side, it is more difficult, yes.

I have a laptop with Leopard on it that I use to calibrate the monitor, and the other laptop with Snow Leopard seems to work as well. It would be nice if XRite wrote a proper version for Snow, but I can't imagine that they aren't.
Thanks for the warning about Snow Leopard, Rich Wagner
by Ron Lindeboom
Yet another reason why I will keep our Macs running 10.5 Leopard and forgo The Snowy One that moved into the territory next door. With all the issues over the last year that I have read, I haven't wanted to update our Macs and this is yet another example where Apple "codes out" its competitors. Short-sighted to say the least.
@ Kevin Cannon
by Jeremy Garchow
5th time is the charm, eh? Sorry to hear about that.

It is true that this is just a monitor. There's no scopes, no tc, no audio meters, it's just a straight up monitor. This will be fine for some, but not others. Your mileage may vary, as they say.
@ Greg Leuenberger
by Jeremy Garchow
As I mentioned in the article, the HDP2 takes the guess work out of it. I highly recommend it. If you are woking in true p formats and have HDMI 1.3a on your capture card, then the HDP2 isn't necessarily necessary, but in this crazy mixed format world we live in, I think the HDP2 is worth the money.
@ Nick Wilcox-Brown
by Jeremy Garchow
"Having come to the video world from stills, it has long been my belief that video guys are being 'taken for a ride' by the manufacturers in terms of pricing versus functionality. "

Oh, you are just now coming to that realization? :)

The DreamColor at least offers an entry point. A 10bit flat panel video monitor for this price is hard to come by, despite any quirks.
Problems with Color Calibration on Mac Snow Leopard
by Rich Wagner
While the hardware is fantastic, the X-Rite written calibration and profiling software for Mac does NOT run under Snow Leopard (10.6.2) - even the 1.1 release - therefore it is impossible to calibrate and profile the monitor for color-critical work. Tech Support at HP is a complete waste of time. They are not familiar with the monitor OR the software, and they have no useful suggestions other than to "re-install the OS" and "Tell Apple to fix the problem."

See the thread on the Colorsync Listserve before you purchase this monitor.

Based on the lack of available support from HP, I will stick with Eizo in the future. HP's support is the worst I have ever experienced.

--Rich Wagner

We really like the DreamColor
by Kim Segel
We've been using the DreamColor for over a year in our three GFX suites in television production and they're quite nice. We're feeding them from AJA IO-HDs.

We've reduced the levels to match our on-air monitors, and they look great in 8-bit, 10-bit; SD and HD.
the good the bad and the ugly...
by Kevin Cannon
The Good: What everybody else said - but I also like the advantage of being able to run DVI alongside HDMI/SDI to use the client monitor for applications not using your video interface card (for me, Maya flipbooks, Shake viewers and the like).

The Bad: No scopes, picky about signals in.

The Ugly: After 5 months and only 280 hours, my first monitor died. I didn't complain that HP replaced it with a refurb - just that the replacement had brightness "bruises" in two corners. Replacement 3 (refurb) and 4 (brand new) had green/magenta color variations. Replacement 5 (brand new) looks great.
Thank you!
by Greg Leuenberger
Man, thanks for this review. I was at the end of a deadline a week ago and needed to monitor a 1080p@24fps 3D animation in 10-bits. I basically bought this monitor sight-unseen (in addition to a decklink extreme with a 10-bit hdmi output) last week - I saw a couple of videos and played with it briefly at siggraph 08'.

Anyway - like I said, I haven't had time to calibrate it (didn't even know at the calibration kit at the time of purchase), nor play with it much. But at least now I have a good starting place and don't feel like I just lost a few thousand bucks (I was wondering why I couldn't change the color I know).

I typically research a product like crazy before buying - but this was a rather extreme situation (exhibit at an aquarium opening up and the 3D was late..). I'm off to read all the links from this page (and buy the colorimeter) - if anybody can clue me in on if the decklink was a good choice or not, it would be helpful. I do have a Kona LHe in another Mac Pro that I could use in combo with the AJA HDP2 if that's a better choice.

I have to say I remember trying out the monitor at siggraph a few years ago and drawing a gradient across the screen in Photoshop, then comparing it side by side on the HP and ACD that was hooked up. The grad. on the HP was fantastic, no banding. I tried the same thing basically as soon as I got the monitor out of the box last week - and the banding was horrible. I wonder if that's because DVI only supports 8-bit and the HP at siggraph probably had Display Port? Anyway, I'm just blabbing now - but thanks for the review. : )


Been there
by Nick Wilcox-Brown
Appreciate the review and yes, they are good monitors, but Eizo made the CG220 and lower priced CG21 that gave 10-bit processing, in-monitor calibration with a GTM / X-Rite EyeOne and comfortably exceeded CRTs, for the arguably more demanding still image requirements, back in 2004/5. The CG220 covered the full Adobe RGB gamut at that point - substantially wider then Rec 709 / sRGB and worked (and still does, beautifully) on Mac and Windows.

Having come to the video world from stills, it has long been my belief that video guys are being 'taken for a ride' by the manufacturers in terms of pricing versus functionality.

ICC Color management has been the norm for stills for nearly 10 years: subject matches monitor, matches print, matches billboard - finally it is coming to moving image. Next up we'll see all movies shot RAW and graded in 14/16bit!?

@ Illya
by Jeremy Garchow
If 8 bit is good enough, then 8 bit is good enough.

My requirements were a 10bit monitor and the Flanders 10 bit monitor wasn't out yet when making the purchasing decision, and it has a suggested price of $10,000.

Believe me, I know it's hard to make the leap that it seems like this is just a computer monitor, and while it's wrapped up as one, it's more than that.

I didn't really believe it until I saw it. It looks good and works well.

Nothing against the FSI monitors, it just wasn't feasible for me at that time.

by Illya Laney
This display sounds great for print work, but as far as broadcast goes, I'm not so sure. I think the price needs to go down significantly since I can get a 17" Flanders for $2500 with built in scopes and I don't need to buy an extra $300 calibrator and windows machine or a Windows OS.
@ Jack Jones
by Jeremy Garchow
I hear you, Jack. There's no SDI, but that's where the HDP2 comes in.

I don't know where you got the one hour warm up time from, HP recommends 30 minutes. There's even a dialog box that comes up when you first turn on the monitor that says "recommended warm up, 30 minutes for best color performance," or something to that effect.

The DreamColor is definitely worth a look come upgrade time.

Thanks, Tim!
by Jeremy Garchow
Yes, the DreamColor will output at those frame rates, you just have to make sure your HDP2 is setup to do so.

And good point on the lack of lights on the front. Everything is illuminated only when you need it to be.
Worth noting...
by Tim Wilson
...that in addition to his emphasis on comparing "apples to apples" for pricing a 10-bit monitor, Jeremy is an all Apple guy. The Win box is only for firmware updates...and my own Win box is a 15" Unibody Mac laptop.

For now. I just saw HP's new 15" laptop with a DreamColor screen and was BLOWN AWAY. I've never seen anything even vaguely like it...says a guy who has owned an Apple laptop non-stop since they were first released. Seriously, I was shocked by how wonderful it looks. Also has a new ATI chip that simultaneously powers up to 5 displays in all, with your choice of mirroring or extended desktop for each. Amazing.


Also worth noting -- while the FSI monitors are pre-calibrated for viewing over SDI, Flanders does in fact sell a Direct Connect Automatic Alignment kit for $8995. It includes a colorimeter, connection box and cables. You can order yours here.

(By the way, we are fans of the FSI monitors, too. Be sure to stop by the COW's Flanders Scientific forum if you have any questions about. FSI's Bram Desmet is among the folks who'll be happy to help.)
Not entirely convinced...
by Jack Jones
You've convinced me that these are nice monitors but I'm still not 100% sure I'd want to replace my Grade 1 CRT with a monitor that lacks SDI/HD-SDI inputs. You also don't mention the warm up time of the display. This is one of the major things that puts me off, having to turn my display on an hour or so before working with it, seems a long time. My CRT is normally fully operational after around half an hour. Admittedly Penta's HD2line has an amazing soultion for this (see:

I'm planning on an Autumn upgrade so I suppose try before I buy will be the key to my choice.
Nice work, Jeremy!
by Tim Wilson
We'll be talking more about this as we get a chance, but here at the COW, we've been using the DreamColors as well, and absolutely loving them. Admittedly, at this point in our careers, Ron and I are using them more for print, but your points are all very well taken.

I wanted to add a couple of quick notes about why we're using these rather than our beloved Cinema Displays:

**Calibrated in monitor, rather than local machine - ideal when using with more than one computer
**CONNECTIONS. The DreamColor supports DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, even (ahem) VGA. All the cables are included, too.

While not important to US since we aren't currently doing much video, I was interested to note that, while the DreamColor is all about 60 Hz the DreamColor can natively sync and display output at 48, 50, or 60 Hz (+/- .5 Hz) so that film-rate material is played natively without the need for retiming.

I should also note that my favorite feature may be Night Vision mode. The ability to dim the lights without changing contrast ratios is immediately noticeably different from anything I’ve ever seen before. Ditto for buttons and onscreen displays that also behave appropriately in the dark

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