Before I dig into using the i1 Profiler, I'll preface by saying that while many of the consumer reviews have complained about i1Profiler being buggy, I have yet to encounter any issues, so X-Rite has done a great job of clearing up any issues. With that tid-bit out of the way, the i1Profiler has the entire suite of design-cycle capabilities built in for profiling and calibrating your display / projector, your printer, and scanner, but keep in mind these all will utilize their individual products (just being very clear that the i1Display pro will not work to calibrate your printer / scanner, but I'm about 99.76% sure you knew that). This gives users a fully-unified and integrated experience that makes using X-Rite's design ecosystem as unobtrusive as possible.
Before profiling, the software gives you a number of options to define default display settings including LED type, white point target, luminance, contrast ratio, as well as "flare correct" and "Ambient Light Smart Control" as measured by the i1Display Pro through the diffuser. Most color quality enthusiasts and pros won't like the idea of automatic changes outside of their control, but assuming accurate execution, they could be convenient features. Of course, if you sit next to a window or for some other reason your ambient lighting may see frequent changes (cube neighbor likes to rave it up?), these features might seem appealing or you'll want to keep a close eye on how you perceive your display. Either way, the i1Display Pro allows you to measure your ambient conditions as well. To ease those less familiar with display profiling, the left pane also gives explanations, hints, and tips to let you know what the various parameters really mean and what they do. Alright, let's profile some stuff.
Calibration / Profiling
Before profiling, the i1Profiler gives you another opportunity to make sure you do (or don't) want automatic adjustments. Again, most of the color enthusiasts / pros / OCD types will want full control over the calibration process, but X-rite gives the less-neurotic (oops, did I say that out loud?) of us who want the quick and easy calibration the option for automatic brightness, contrast, and RGB gain adjustment if your display supports it. We'll be profiling the ASUS PB278Q, which supports the automated controls, and overall we found them to work very well and took all the effort out of calibrating the display. Get it set up, start the calibration, go grab a cup of coffee and it's ready when you make it back.
Again, X-rite has left options for a default patch set, or if you prefer, patches from an image or other larger patch sets to suit your needs. The basic patch set works quite well and gives a good balance of being thorough without consuming huge amounts of time. Starting the measurement, the software will take control of your display, and set the testing window to Full Screen. A little graphic will remind you to flip the diffuser around and give you an icon in the center of the screen to place the i1Display Pro.
The first set of the test will adjust the brightness to the targets you've set, and a white LED can be seen from the sides each time a measurement is taken. Again, if your monitor doesn't allow for automatic adjustments, these will need to be done manually. From there, it will cycle through each of the patches, with each patch displaying for about a second, the white LED showing that the measurement was taken, and then the next one will rinse and repeat until all of the patches are done. From there you have the option to create and save the profile and/or compare it to another one. You can rename it if you plan to have multiple unique profiles, and it'll show up under the "ICC Profiles" tab in the left pane. The gamut in the profile results will show where the White Point, Luminance, and Contrast Ratio values compare to the targets you've set.
Overall, even to the newbies to display profiling the process is all very intuitive and only takes a few minutes to accomplish.
Ultimately, the end result you're aiming for by calibrating a display is to improve the quality of the colors represented. So after you're through profiling, you can quickly check the quality of the profile with the quality function.
NOTE: One thing that might be confusing if you can't find the quality function is that you have to select the "Advanced" User Mode which can be selected on the "Home" page.
Again, similarly to the Profiler, the Display QA function will give you options for the patch set and targets. The next screen will have you place your i1Display Pro in the center of your display (and it'll remind you to flip the diffuser over) and it'll take measurements of the quality patches you have selected. It'll then give you a quick summary of the statistics of the quality test including average Delta E of all of the patches as well as maximums and standard deviations. It'll tell you the Delta E of each patch as well. This ultimately tells you how well your display is doing in the grand scheme of color accuracy.
Another important aspect of display performance is the overall uniformity of the panel. This primarily allows you to look at how even the backlighting of your display is. Since profiling / calibrating is usually done at the center of the screen, it's good to know how that varies across the monitor's panel. The great thing about LED backlighting is that it has allowed for thinner, lighter, and sexier-looking displays. However, the super thin displays still must make sacrifices to the backlighting and many of the best-looking monitors, despite using LED backlighting, have very spotty / bleedy backlights. If your display is dialed in at the center, and it's horrific at the edges you might find yourself frustrated about where you should best keep your workspace windows. The uniformity tests will help you identify your display's weak spots.
The Display Uniformity tests will test your display in a 3 x 3 grid across your display and give you a position silhouette centered each section. Let the i1Profiler know when it's ready, and it'll take a brightness measurement. When you've gathered all 9 data points, it'll show you the luminance and associated delta brightness from the center of the panel. In our monitor reviews, we've found pretty good correlation between display deltas and Delta E from the center of the panel. A "workaround" for color quality uniformity is to simply place the i1Display Pro unit in various locations across the panel and record the values manually, and that'll give you a good idea of how your panel will perform at various locations.
Overall the i1Profiler is very intuitive to use, and the only confusing thing for us was finding the "Advanced User Mode" tab on the home page to allow us to get into the QA and Uniformity testing. We didn't run into any bugs and the software performed fabulously. The only feature we think is missing is built-in color uniformity. It would be super-handy to have the QA tests rolled into the uniformity test so you can see what the Delta E deltas (that's a mouthful) are from the calibration at the center of the monitor panel.