Not really answering your question.
Doesn't matter, you asked some enlightening questions.
But you have to start out by doing the math. How much are you willing to spend?
And this is the tough one . . .I don't really know. Off-hand, I'd say between $400 and $800 (naturally they'd better be good reasons for going up to 800, that's quite a bit for a college student, although I could definitely manage it).
How much are you going to print? How often?
This is a problem, since I just recently went to digital. If I go by history, not a lot, but now that I have a digital (and also a job) I may be making a lot more, since the capture cost is zero. I guess I'll have to wait some more and see how often I come up with stuff to print.
Are you willing to wait for prints to arrive in the mail (or driving to your local shop) or do you want to be able to see the print right now?
I'd say that's a function of the price. Naturally I'd like to get them right away, but if I can get good results from mail-order and save a lot of money then I might go with that.
How long do the prints have to last? Are you selling them or are you just changing the prints on the wall? Do you want to use third party papers?
Ideally quite a long time, since I might be giving some as gifts to friends/family. I doubt I'll sell anything. I don't know about 3rd party papers, that's something I haven't yet researched much.
If you can pull off calibrating your monitor to a standard you've little need of a calibration device. Good luck with that.
Heh. A better way to phrase my question is; is there more to CRT calibration than contrast, brightness, and gamma? I think I have them set up correctly. No real way to tell for sure unless I do a softproof + a print, though.
Thanks for the reply, and sorry that I left (and still am leaving) too many variables free.