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Author Topic: ColorMunki Smile  (Read 5996 times)
keith_cooper
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« on: October 13, 2012, 02:04:11 PM »
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I've just had a quick look at the new X-Rite ColorMunki Smile, if anyone's curious.
http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/reviews/profiling/colormunki_smile.html

I say a quick look, since there are no options or settings, just a 'start' button (or choice of them if you've multiple monitors)

Very much aimed at those who couldn't care less about screen whitepoints or luminance settings (i.e. the majority of computer users, and dare I say it, photographers too ;-)

The sensor seems to be based on the old i1 Display and the profiling is said to use the same algorithms as the more expensive X-rite kit. Looking inside one, suggests that profiles are being created for D65/G2.2

Obviously not one for the aficionados on this list, but I'd be much happier suggesting it to people starting out than a huey...

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digitaldog
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« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2012, 12:00:36 PM »
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Very much aimed at those who couldn't care less about screen whitepoints or luminance settings (i.e. the majority of computer users, and dare I say it, photographers too ;-)

I certainly hope that isn't so. I can't fathom why anyone would think they need to spend the time and money to calibrate and profile a display (presumably to produce a match to something else), only to buy a product that puts them in severe handcuffs when aiming something as critical as white point and luminance values. Seems idiotic way to waste money on a crippled piece of software using solid hardware.
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Andrew Rodney
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keith_cooper
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« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2012, 12:07:50 PM »
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To you and me it might seem a less than optimal approach, but it's not marketed at people who I'd expect to see frequent this list ;-)
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digitaldog
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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2012, 12:17:19 PM »
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To you and me it might seem a less than optimal approach, but it's not marketed at people who I'd expect to see frequent this list ;-)

The mindset is a bit like marketing a car that has no emergency break or for that matter wiper blades and high beams because it is aimed at people who don't know better that such functionality is kind of useful.

So do you really think that the vast majority of these users will produce what they consider an acceptable match? And when they don't, get the wrong impression of color management?
Do you really think that having fixed luminance and white point is really a useful force upon the end user?

If such companies want to totally avoid the geek speak (cd/m2, D65 etc), they need to provide a means in which these users can adjust the incorrect calibration settings to get the correct ones. It could be as simple as using something like Photoshop's variations where the end user just clicks on the best match and the software is smart enough to get there without asking questions that might confuse. Or just put a stinkin video in the product that explains what luminance and white point are and how to get a match. Severely limiting any product because you feel your customers are not so smart rarely provides the best approach for the customer. It might be a very good initial way to market and sell product. Not so much for the customer.

And again, I really hope your original reading of the photo market in terms of their ability to calibrate a display isn't correct. I'd expect with just a little hand holding or a decent article or video on this topic would go a lot farther in getting these users to understand the process.

Or we can promote the creation of stupid software for stupid customers.
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Andrew Rodney
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keith_cooper
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2012, 02:44:10 PM »
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I'm minded to wonder if your question "do you really think that the vast majority of these users will produce what they consider an acceptable match?" makes a potentially unwarranted assumption, in that it is to 'match something' that people are doing the calibration for.

From talking to numerous keen photographers, asking about 'this colour management stuff', it seems to be a desire to get a screen to some 'known point' (whatever that actually means) and very few have any concept of matching anything. I get terms like 'proper colour' or 'accurate colour' and no real appreciation of why brightness or white point is of any relevance whatsoever.

Indeed I've been asked so many times 'Why don't my prints match my screen' that I wrote a short article that essentially says that 'you've got the screen too bright', since this is the simple answer to a complex question that works for a lot of people ;-)

Having written quite a few short reviews of colour management kit, I'm very aware of the need to pitch them at a level that doesn't scare people off, but still offers people opportunities to find out more. That means I'll cover a product like the Smile in a different way to the i1Pro 2.

Much as I'd prefer that people learned to 'do things properly' I have to accept that those that do (or want to) are likely to be in a minority of potential users.

As it stands, if someone does want to set custom luminances and whitepoints, they need to spend rather a bit more than $90 for the Smile (well, perhaps until it's supported by Argyll CMS)

The fact that even using an i1Pro on i1 Profiler, there is little mention of 'non standard' luminances or whitepoints  in the associated help/documentation, suggests to me that this is not something the manufacturers are keen to address ;-)




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digitaldog
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« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2012, 03:08:47 PM »
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I'm minded to wonder if your question "do you really think that the vast majority of these users will produce what they consider an acceptable match?" makes a potentially unwarranted assumption, in that it is to 'match something' that people are doing the calibration for.

So they are calibrating towards what goal? You agree they are attempting to first alter the display conditions? For what propose? The settings one can select don't matter? Whatever hard wired settings this product provides are acceptable, correct, and if so, why would anyone else with any other product need to calibrate towards any other settings?

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From talking to numerous keen photographers, asking about 'this colour management stuff', it seems to be a desire to get a screen to some 'known point' (whatever that actually means)


Exactly, that means what? And since they can't alter the settings, those hard wired settings produce what known point? Useful for what? For every display out there? I'm not sold by a long shot.

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I get terms like 'proper colour' or 'accurate colour' and no real appreciation of why brightness or white point is of any relevance whatsoever.

You may be getting such replies but I suspect you know far more than they do and I again ask, what are they expecting? And can this product produce it for all these customers?

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Indeed I've been asked so many times 'Why don't my prints match my screen' that I wrote a short article that essentially says that 'you've got the screen too bright', since this is the simple answer to a complex question that works for a lot of people ;-)

So this product you reviewed will solve this? Considering there is no way the product has a clue about the print viewing conditions, just how will this help those users?

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Having written quite a few short reviews of colour management kit, I'm very aware of the need to pitch them at a level that doesn't scare people off, but still offers people opportunities to find out more.

I don't think you have to pitch anything. But telling them the severe limitations of this product is a start and probably better for them no?

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Much as I'd prefer that people learned to 'do things properly' I have to accept that those that do (or want to) are likely to be in a minority of potential users.

This product appears to offer no options for the user to do anything so this begs the question: how can you teach them to do anything differently than maybe not consider this product?

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As it stands, if someone does want to set custom luminances and whitepoints, they need to spend rather a bit more than $90 for the Smile (well, perhaps until it's supported by Argyll CMS)

Do they need to set custom luminance and white point? My experience suggests they almost certainly do. If asking them to pick some value that makes no sense to them is an issue, don't ask them that way, find a better, simpler way for them to arrive at the goal of display calibration and profiling.

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The fact that even using an i1Pro on i1 Profiler, there is little mention of 'non standard' luminances or whitepoints  in the associated help/documentation, suggests to me that this is not something the manufacturers are keen to address ;-)

I agree that they don't want to address this. Their main goal is selling a product. A review can guide customers into an appropriate decision based on the product design. I don't know what a standard luminance or white point is in terms of a display. I guess because we've had D65/120cd/m2 shoved down our throats for so many years, despite the fact that this setting may or may not produce the correct results (and each product produces differing results with the same targets), some may feel such settings are some kind of standard. Just like SWOP is a CMYK standard (it isn't), or Adobe RGB (1998) is some standard working space (it isn't). At least I know of no standards body that has said such, with a straight face. We can offer starting points and let people season to taste, assuming the controls are provided. This product doesn't offer any options right?

Both you and I have written articles on prints that appear too dark compared to the display. IF the software manufacturers would actually create software to easily fix this (and we both know that a fix is possible), if they would stop dumbing down their products just to justify a lower price despite the results, we'd all be in a better place.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2012, 03:11:00 PM »
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Indeed I've been asked so many times 'Why don't my prints match my screen' that I wrote a short article that essentially says that 'you've got the screen too bright', since this is the simple answer to a complex question that works for a lot of people ;-)

So with the Smile product, this can't happen? And if it does, what do you tell the customer about this product?
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2012, 03:12:58 PM »
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The sad truth is, Andrew, that there is a not insignificant group of people who bill themselves as 'professional' photographers who have no concept of colour management or other technicalities of photography.  Some never get off the 'green square' and whatever Nikon's equivalent is.  Never shoot anything except jpeg in srgb.  And they have clients, charge not insubstantial fees and make quite reasonable livings.  Those folks, as Keith points out, would never know that LuLa and its merry band of phototechnophiles even exists.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2012, 03:28:26 PM »
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The sad truth is, Andrew, that there is a not insignificant group of people who bill themselves as 'professional' photographers who have no concept of colour management or other technicalities of photography.  Some never get off the 'green square' and whatever Nikon's equivalent is.  Never shoot anything except jpeg in srgb.  And they have clients, charge not insubstantial fees and make quite reasonable livings.  Those folks, as Keith points out, would never know that LuLa and its merry band of phototechnophiles even exists.

I'm not suggesting anything you say isn't true. Although I think it is the responsibility of some people to attempt to educate such users. And to point out the severe limitations of a product who's main goal isn't defined (just what is this Smile and similar products supposed to provide?). I don't think that question is out of line. Just what does the product do once you blindly set it and forget it?

If by and large the LuLa group is well beyond the understanding of the photographers you and Keith are referring to, why post the review here? I'm simply commenting on the design goal of this product after reading said review.

In the old analog days, having a clue about color management and display calibration didn't matter one bit because, well we didn't use these products for creating our images. Now it is somewhat necessary. So on one hand, we are told there is an audience of photographers that don't know anything about color management (true) and that they should possibly remain clueless about this important part of imaging and also point them to a product that appears to take advantage of their misunderstandings too? I don't see that aiding these photographers at all.
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Andrew Rodney
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2012, 04:43:39 PM »
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Although I think it is the responsibility of some people to attempt to educate such users. And to point out the severe limitations of a product who's main goal isn't defined (just what is this Smile and similar products supposed to provide?). I don't think that question is out of line. Just what does the product do once you blindly set it and forget it?
I think this is important and we should all seek to educate those photographers we come in contact with.  I've done just this with two of my former co-workers.  I had hung a number of prints in our office hallway and this spurred them to get more interested and move beyond the point and shoot.  I discussed the importance of starting out right and getting the best equipment that their budgets would allow.  We discussed color management and how with just a modest investment in a decent NEC monitor with the Spectraview software, one could control things and get a good screen to print match.  Both of them have moved on from the field we were working in and are now full time photographers and it's good to hear how they are doing (one just shot at Mercedes Benz fashion week and the other who got started with my used Nikon dSLR has a growing editorial and personal photography business in Pittsburgh).

Personally I think X-Rite is doing a disservice by putting this type of product on the market.  As Andrew notes, it really doesn't solve a problem and will ultimately raise expectations that cannot be fulfilled.

Alan
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digitaldog
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« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2012, 04:55:50 PM »
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This product, like the huey is better than nothing. But that isn't an excuse not to call out X-Rite and their competitors who are doing the same thing. Kind of like asking what is worse, death by fire or death by water (no death is the right answer <g>).

Like the huey, it is better than nothing since I suspect if the confused user who buys it at least uses it regally. At least while the calibration is likely wrong, it is consistently wrong. Without, the display is wrong in differing ways. So would you prefer consistent non calibration or inconsistent non calibration? If you just paid money for a 'solution' I don't think you'd be happy with either.

If I decide I want to travel from LA to New York, I can spend 5 days and drive in a 1971 AMC hornet with 300,000 miles or I can drive there in a 2013 BMW M3. Or I could fly. But I'll end up with the same results: I'm in NY. The time and cost to get there with the three above approaches are vastly different. If I find out that my choice, the M3 only has three tires, I'm not going to make it. The product has a fundamental flaw.

Does Smile and similar devices have such a flaw? Well the first question is, what is the product supposed to do? What does the end user expect it to do? Based on how it operates, I'm not sure. If someone buys it, what do they expect the product to do? Match display and print, match display to another display? Just 'be right' (what is right here)?

The press release tells us this:

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“With the introduction of ColorMunki Smile, users can now be sure that their monitors always accurately display the true colors of their photographs, videos, games and web browsing experiences.”

So does it do this? For all displays, for all photo's, video's, games and the web? With one calibration target? What makes this process accurate (even forgetting dE and such, what's the thing we are comparing that is accurate to the display)?
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2012, 05:37:21 PM »
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Couple of things to think about though, Andrew.  One is that a lot of these people you think we should try to educate don't want to be educated.  They're more than happy in their 'ignorance is bliss mode'.  Second, many of the people who are shooting now have no analogue background.  Remember that digital has spawned an explosion of people making images that didn't previously.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2012, 06:19:39 PM »
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One is that a lot of these people you think we should try to educate don't want to be educated.  They're more than happy in their 'ignorance is bliss mode'. 

So true! I'm dealing with one now on another list who's absolutely certain of the advantages to only capturing and using sRGB and is sure (despite the gamut maps shown) that his lab is not only using an sRGB output device (printer) but it has to be sent sRGB. He's super happy being quite ignorant. We can't help such people with education. They truly believe in their flat earth theories if I can be so kind to add the term theory to the sentence <g>.

None of this lets manufacturers off the hook who develop products via a marketing team first. And there are photographers who can 'get it' if we explain the limitations marketing places on the product to 'pitch' their wares.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2012, 09:42:57 PM »
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No, it doesn't let manufacturers off the hook.  But their goal is to sell more product and make more money.  They're not really in the educating game either.  So if they can come up with a 'Ripmeoff Magic Tincture' cure all type of product, they will.  All they're doing is catering to the lowest common denominator and taking advantage of the flat earth crowd.  It's actually rather smart when you stop and think about it.  Grin
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keith_cooper
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« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2012, 07:38:28 AM »
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I do wonder what a sufficiently simple (so it actually gets read) and appealing response (so it gets people to do something) to those that suggest '6500/2.2/120 is OK'  might be?

How do you sell the idea to people who are likely to be just fine with the improvements they may well see (with a CM Smile) from going from an uncalibrated monitor with a colour tint and crunched shadows - to 'a better looking one' after using the Smile. Those before and after comparisons in such software are usually there to give some assurance that the effort (and expense) was worthwhile, rather than any meaningful information.

My suspicion is that the extra knowledge required to decide whether you want to go to the extra trouble (and extra expense) of setting custom values is not a trivial step for many beyond the aficionados who might inhabit this particular forum area. I might wish people took more trouble over learning about the subject, but I'm enough of a realist to know that to many it's akin to saying they should learn more about trigonometry because it's a worthwhile thing to know...

I'm minded to wonder if the manufacturers actually know their market demographics better than we do, and that advanced features really are of little interest to that many people.

Heretical admission: My own laptop and projector, along with most general machines in the office are all 6500/2.2 based ;-)

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digitaldog
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2012, 09:25:50 AM »
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I do wonder what a sufficiently simple (so it actually gets read) and appealing response (so it gets people to do something) to those that suggest '6500/2.2/120 is OK'  might be?

About the same as going into a shop that sells you a coat but only has one size on the rack. If it fits, you're a happy end user. If not?

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How do you sell the idea to people who are likely to be just fine with the improvements they may well see (with a CM Smile) from going from an uncalibrated monitor with a colour tint and crunched shadows - to 'a better looking one' after using the Smile. Those before and after comparisons in such software are usually there to give some assurance that the effort (and expense) was worthwhile, rather than any meaningful information.

I don't know how you sell because that's not my goal. Maybe it is yours. I would rather recommend someone buy something that I think actually works well.

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My suspicion is that the extra knowledge required to decide whether you want to go to the extra trouble (and extra expense) of setting custom values is not a trivial step for many beyond the aficionados who might inhabit this particular forum area.

If you go into the coat shop knowing your size, or knowing you don't fit the one size offered, you're in much better shape than someone who thinks all coats are the same size.
If you don't know anything about how to buy clothing, you're probably in a poor position to read a review in a magazine about the coat being sold that you don't know (yet) will not fit well.

All I care about is that IF someone isn't into the ignorance is bliss mindset and does want to purchase a product or coat that fits the bill so to speak. But there are a huge number that don't fall into that camp and care about how they spend their money on 'solutions'. They deserves and they want to be informed. Inform them! 

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I'm minded to wonder if the manufacturers actually know their market demographics better than we do, and that advanced features really are of little interest to that many people.

Their goal is to sell a product. Period.

I've yet to hear what this product is really supposed to do. I did provide a quote from Marketing but it doesn't make any sense to me within the context provided. Can you or anyone else tell me what I'm supposed to now have after using this product? It may indeed look better. The oversized coat will keep me warm. If the coat or setting fits, I'll probably be much happier with my purchase. However I've yet to hear anyone explain how such a setting will work for all customers much like all customers can't fit into a single sized coat. The excuse I guess is that people are dumb, our product can only be intuitive and easy to use if I remove all the necessary options to make the product work. It is far easier to manufacturer a coat in one size. Easier to manufacture is wonderful for the company making the coat, maybe not so great for the customer. I care a lot more about the customer. If your goal is to sell as many coats as possible, that is one thing. If your goal is to sell as many coats that fit and make the customer happy, that's another thing.

IF we agree that one setting for display calibration isn't going to serve all users well, then what can you say about this product? What can you say about a company that only makes a coat in one size?

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Heretical admission: My own laptop and projector, along with most general machines in the office are all 6500/2.2 based ;-)

That isn't telling since we have no idea what you are expecting from using those settings. Or maybe this coat just happens to fit you.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2012, 03:32:35 AM »
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Heretical admission: My own laptop and projector, along with most general machines in the office are all 6500/2.2 based ;-)

I tried and Colormunki Smile is set to 5000K/2.2 even if it use a D65 white point name. Anyone noticed that?
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keith_cooper
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« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2012, 06:16:32 AM »
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I tried and Colormunki Smile is set to 5000K/2.2 even if it use a D65 white point name. Anyone noticed that?
Yes - it's using the same underlying software as i1Profiler, which if you set to 6500, has an XYZ media white-point at ~5000 (just from looking at the info in ColorSync Utility and converting)

Create two profiles on the same screen in i1Profiler at 5000 and 6500, and as you'd expect, the screen looks quite different (with the 6500 one looking very similar to the ColorMunki Smile) both have the same 5000 wp data in the profile.

All kinds of things lurk behind the various profiling settings - just how much of this a user might want to know is a very variable quantity ;-)
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