If your looking for consistent color from your large format print vendor or photo lab, calibrating your monitor is a must. A monitors color output varies even from out of the box and especially over time as they age. Calibration keeps them operating in a stable and consistent way. Hardware monitor calibration is the best and most accurate way, and in recent years has become much more affordable. You can pick up a monitor calibration package from a leading color solution company like X-Rite for around $200. 10 years ago this sort of technology cost thousands.
Hardware based calibration uses light monitoring and measurement devices (spectrophotometer) with color management software to achieve more exacting and consistent results. With hardware calibration the red, green and blue phosphor colors, as well as the white points, are all accurately measured and corrected to an industry display standard. Re-calibrating every 2-4 weeks will maintain the monitor so that the way it produces color will stay consistent over time. If your monitor is not correctly displaying color, then time spent on image editing could actually be counter-productive.
Adopting and maintaining a monitor calibration and color management system will guarantee the results on every trade show, large format print, and POP display project that you work on, saving time money and frustration!