Color Laboratory Requirements
The color laboratory has been tested on Mac OS and Windows versions of Mozilla (v. 0.9.2), Netscape Navigator (v. 4.7.7), Internet Explorer (v. 5 Mac; v. 5.5 Win), and Opera (v. 5.0b1.305 Mac; 5.12 Win). Additionally, we tested with the Mac-only web browser iCab (v. 2.5.2). Opera had enough serious bugs that the tool could not work around them without moving to a primarily server-side implementation (which would dramatically reduce responsiveness). Mozilla had only one minor rendering bug, which did not diminish usability at all. Navigator, Internet Explorer, and iCab exhibited no bugs. I personally prefer to use Mozilla, as I find that it calculates and renders very quickly.
Use of this tool involves some messy math (for the color simulation), and quite a bit of table-within-table rendering (for the swatches). Faster computers will obviously perform these operations quicker. To reduce the number of calculations, simulated colors are cached with each color swatch so that they don't need to be re-calculated when you return to a previously-calculated simulation. This trades RAM for speed. I have yet to encounter a problem with this trade, but those in tight RAM situations might run into trouble. I've found the tool to be usable on a 200MHz machine, but I generally prefer to run it on my usual desktop which runs at 500MHz. Your milage may vary.
If your monitor is only set to display 256 colors, then you will very certainly see distorted color output. In order to render the variations in color, your monitor must be set to at least 'thousands of colors' (16-bit color). A very small minority of color differences can only be disambiguated under 'millions of colors' (and on a high quality monitor, viewed by a user without significant vision deficits). These few cases concern the simulation different gamma levels, when the change in gamma is slight. In most cases, 'thousands of colors' will be perfectly fine.