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A Billion Colors: HP's DreamColor Monitor

Color-Critical Consumers

But professionals in the graphic design, film, and advertising industries consider the question a little more pragmatically: Does your monitor render that shade of blue exactly the same as my monitor?

Often times, the answer is an obvious “no,” as monitors, projectors and print-outs display what’s supposed to be the same color as a myriad of hues, causing uncertainty about how a finished product will look.

The state of the art in color-matching technologies used to be CRT, but no cutting-edge creative firm wants to stick with those big honking monitors when consumers and non-design firm professionals get to place slim LCDs on their desks. Big-budgeted firms can afford to invest in extremely high-end color-calibrated monitors (which often cost up to 5 digits), but most can’t. And so they deal with mismatching colors with somewhat useful software solutions and a lot of patience.

But one firm, DreamWorks Animation, decided it didn’t want to put up with any of the above scenarios, and so enlisted its technology partner Hewlett-Packard to come up with a lower-budgeted color-accurate monitor that it could deploy across 200 different corporate departments. Nearly two years later HP’s offering - the billion-color boasting, 24" DreamColor LP2480zx - debuts for $3,499.

This price means the monitor won’t end up on any consumer desktops other than the most committed amateur photographers, film-makers, and Web designers. But it may bring relief from color-rendering anxiety to “pro-sumers” — the breed of tech enthusiast who tries to earn some cash on the side for her hobby — and small to mid-sized companies. And eventually, HP insists, some of the monitor’s capabilities may trickle down into consumer-friendly products.