The Spyder was the first calibration system I used a few years ago. I bought it because, in part, it came with a free 'Real World' Photoshop 6 book. As I recall, the calibration was started with CRT monitor at maximum contrast. Brightness had to be manually adjusted during calibration in order for the calibrated output range to be ideally in the range of something like 65-90 cd/m^2. The maximum brightness of my ViewSonic monitor was, from memory, around 135 cd/m^2.
I had a lot of trouble getting a satisfacory calibration, during which time of course I was verbally abused by dear old Jonathan who seemed to think I was a complete nitwit.
The fact is, I did eventually get a reasonable calibration, through trial and error, but was never quite sure why and the calibration was never perfectly satisfactory.
Some time later, I upgraded to an X-rite DTP-94 with ColorEyes software and then the Eyeone Display 2 with GM software which at the time was the only software which would work with Win XP 64.
My calibration problems are solved .
As you say, calibration of a monitor is not a simple operation, and I'm happy for you that you have solved your problems. Here are some recommendations by [a href=\"http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=11086&view=findpost&p=67460]Dr Karl Lang[/url] (a recognized expert in this area) that may help those who are having problems.
He points out that current mid to high end LCDs have 3D lookups, which are altered by the front panel settings on the monitor and can be used for adjustment of white point and other parameters.
He recommends using native WB unless you are using multiple monitors, in which case one or more of the monitors may have to have WB adjustments so that they appear the same. He describes a test to determine if your monitor has a 3D lookup.
Additional recommendations are:
1. Do not adjust "contrast", "brightness" or "gamma" on the front panel.
2. Do not use a Matrix/TRC based profile, but rather a full lookup. Whether or not this is available depends on the profiling software.
3. Do adjust the backlight, sometimes incorrectly labeled as brightness
New displays using LED backlight solve some of these problems as discussed in this NEC whitepaper