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X-Rite and Pantone Launch ColorMunki, WTT Analysis

Monday, March 17, 2008

Press release from the issuing company

(WhatTheyThink.com Senior Editor Cary Sherburne Comments Below)  -- GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., March 17, 2008 – X-Rite, the world leader in color management and measurement technologies, along with recently acquired Pantone, Inc., the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, today introduced ColorMunki, a breakthrough in both price and performance.

Based on X-Rite and Pantone's deep understanding of the photo and design communities, ColorMunki solutions are the industry's first easy-to-use, convergent technologies developed specifically to feed the artistic imagination of creative professionals – at an affordable price. Designed to meet the requirements of creatives working in a digital environment across industries, the revolutionary ColorMunki family ensures accurate color from inspiration to final output in ways never before possible.

"Our all-new ColorMunki portfolio reflects a deepened commitment to customers. We've developed solutions for distinct segments of the creative community facilitating an unprecedented digital workflow that seamlessly incorporates color. The exceptional ease-of-use has extended the appeal of our solutions. Finally, color excellence can be integrated effortlessly into anyone's creative vision, setting a new industry standard," states X-Rite Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing Iris Mangelschots.

Meet ColorMunki
ColorMunki solutions provide photographers and designers new technological advances that – for the first time – address core issues of color creation, control and communication in easy-to-use, integrated solutions. The ColorMunki portfolio includes ColorMunki Photo, ColorMunki Design and ColorMunki Create, all supported by www.colormunki.com. The products are a combination of software and hardware that give creatives freedom and flexibility to create and produce with color confidence.

The ColorMunki Portfolio Includes:

ColorMunki Photo
Designed for the digital workflow of social, wedding and portrait photographers – or anyone passionate about photography – ColorMunki Photo delivers an easy, quick and affordable solution for matching colors from display to print.

Developed with professional photographer input, ColorMunki Photo is a completely integrated, versatile solution that calibrates displays, projectors and printers, measures ambient light and captures spot colors. The new AppSet automatically sets the printer profile for the user. ColorMunki Photo also includes new, exciting color creation and communication tools, such as automatically extracting colors from images and transporting images with DigitalPouch to ensure ViewSafe environments. ColorMunki Photo gives photographers ultimate color control for their images.

ColorMunki Design
Developed for graphic professionals from freelancers to corporate in-house designers, ColorMunki Design provides the freedom and simplicity to select, specify and store color palettes in a calibrated environment, assuring precise color viewing and reproduction. Palettes can then be seamlessly imported into popular design applications including Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and QuarkXPress, as well as other industry-standard applications. Colors can be selected from multiple sources including PANTONE Color Libraries, system-level color pickers, inspirational images, color harmonies and key word searches. ColorMunki Design allows users to quickly and accurately capture colors from any surface, easily calibrate monitors, projectors and printers for accurate display-to-print matching, and verify spot colors for process-safe reproduction in any medium.

ColorMunki Create
ColorMunki Create is an affordable, simple starting point for designers whose primary requirement is color palette creation. ColorMunki Create offers spectral color selection from system-level color pickers, inspirational images, color harmonies and key word searches, with the ability to snap-to PANTONE Goe Colors for repurposing into usable palettes. In addition to software, ColorMunki Create offers a simplified approach to on-screen color control to let designers realize their creative vision. ColorMunki Create is easily upgraded to ColorMunki Design using the discount voucher included in the box.

All three solutions are supported by www.colormunki.com, an online portal where designers and photographers can experience key ColorMunki software capabilities such as create, share and view color palettes with peers, search and select colors from images provided by the www.photoshelter.com community, and test their color-viewing ability with an online test. Creatives will also be able to purchase any of the ColorMunki solutions directly through the Web site.

Pricing, Availability and System Requirements
ColorMunki Photo and ColorMunki Design will be available in late March 2008 at www.colormunki.com  and other photo, design, major electronics and online retailers for an SRP of USD $499/€429.

ColorMunki Create will be available in June 2008 at www.colormunki.com and other design and online retailers for an SRP of USD $149/€129.

Additional PANTONE Color Libraries can be purchased for use with ColorMunki Design and ColorMunki Create from www.colormunki.com for an SRP of USD $19.95/€19.95.

The ColorMunki family of products is compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 or higher and Windows XP and higher.

WhatTheyThink.com Senior Editor Cary Sherburne Comments:

History has proven that you can count on Pantone for interesting and innovative product announcements.  This one is no different, starting with its name, ColorMunki.  I spent an interesting and informative hour on a web conference last week with Doris Brown, VP of Marketing at Pantone, who kindly provided WhatTheyThink with an advance look at this product.  The Pantone/X-Rite combination seems to be paying big dividends, and Brown pointed out that just six months after the acquisition, we are seeing yet another new product from the combined companies, who she indicates have not had the integration issues many acquisitions entail. And it won't stop there, according to Brown, who says, "Buckle up and watch us.  We have a lot of things coming out in a short time.  We have a deep understanding of how people are using our soltuions and what they want to do in the future."
ColorMunki combines critical tools professionals are using at all levels of production into one cost-effective, easy to use product and includes the ability to read colors accurately without a lightbox, perform monitor calibration and measure color coming off of an output device for full workflow color management.  Brown says, "We have taken all of these tools, put them in a Vegematic and turned up the volume, bringing all that functionality into one device with a really cool interface that is easy to use."
ColorMunki comes in two versions at launch:  one for professional photographers and one for the design market.  A less functional Create tool will be available later.  Each model is designed to specifically address workflow common to its market in a comfortable form factor.
Color management has often seemed overwhelming to many professionals, from both a process and a cost perspective.  ColorMunki combines tools that would have cost at least $1,000 with a very simple user interface into a device that sells for $499.  Create, when it is released later in the year, will sell for $149.  As an introductory offer, the Pantone Goe Guide will be included with ColorMunki, a $149 value.
There are so many cool features with this innovative product that we don't have space here to write as much as we would like.  We do recommend that you take a look at it.  For example, color calibrating a printer is something I have never tackled, but I watched Doris calibrate a printer during the online demo, and even I could do this.  You simply print out a swatch sheet, run ColorMunki over each of the five columns, automatically feed back the information through ColorMunki's USB connection, and create a named profile that can be stored in a library.  Start to finish, three to four minutes!  Designers can also use the tools and software to see if the color choices they are making will conform to various standards, such as SWOP or SNAP.  Colors that cannot be created within those standards show up as grey or black swatches, so nothing is left to the imagination.  Designers can also easily create custom color palettes and synchonize them into their document design software--Quark, InDesign, PhotoShop, whatever--eliminating the need to manually create them within each package.
You can even do word searches.  For example, if you search on green, ColorMunki's software will pop up all colors that have green in their name and all photographs with green in them.




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