VistaPrint

VistaPrint (11 x 8.5-inch calendar for $16) has one of the most extensive selections of photo products available from an online print service. However, its calendar creation interface is extremely limited, and we found the photo reproduction on our printed calendar to be poor.

Creating Your Calendar

VistaPrint's calendar interface has few layouts, none of which can be edited. And once you've chosen your calendar style/template, you can't change individual month's backgrounds. VistaPrint also has no clip art, no shadows or borders, and no rotation, resizing or moving of text or photo placeholders.

The only picture-editing options are crop and rotate (turning the photo by 90-degree increments within the placeholder, rather than moving the placeholder itself). The selected template creates rigidly fixed text boxes with predefined locations, fonts, colors and sizes. When the preset font color is too dark for the background, you have no ability to change it.

The automatically applied backgrounds fill only the upper photo page; the date grid pages are all white. You can't put photos into date boxes, as you can with other services. But it's easy to add text and one of a limited number of graphics (such as a cartoony birthday cake) to a date.

The Printed Calendar

The photo reproduction in both our original and reprinted VistaPrint calendars was very unsatisfactory, with practically no difference between the two.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuideCredit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuideOur jury's descriptions of almost all the pictures include words such as "muddy," "gray," "flat" and so forth; ratings range from 2 to 5 (on a scale of 1-10), with a single 7.5 for the December picture.  Many of the photos displayed unappealing color shifts. In addition, the well-focused images often printed as soft, possibly due to what appears to be the use of a reduced amount of ink.

Only one image of the 19 in the calendar looks really good: the left-hand picture on the September page is warm and lively, with nice details in the shadows.  However, the right-hand picture of the same month is dull, dark and cyanic. The cover (5), January (5), March (4), May (5) and June (4) are the best of the lot, though that's a very relative term. The February picture (2) is unexpectedly dark. And the August picture (2.5), which looks good to great in all the other calendars (except Snapfish), displays a dreadful yellow shift and flat dynamic range.

Calendar Options & Other Products Offered

VistaPrint has a handful of calendar styles. A traditional 11 x 8.5-inch paper wall satin paper calendar costs $16, which includes satin paper stock. For $3 extra, you can get it on premium glossy card stock. In addition, the service offers desk, magnetic and poster calendars.

The full range of photo products that VistaPrint offers is far too extensive to list. They include business cards, checks, greeting cards, mugs, mouse pads, T-shirts, bags, labels, stickers, invitations, phone cases, flyers, postcards, coasters, bookmarks, pillows, puzzles, banners and more.

Bottom Line

VistaPrint has frequent sales that can reduce the cost of your calendar by as much as 50 percent. However, given the severely limited software and poor photo reproduction in our printed calendar, we cannot recommend VistaPrint for your calendar-making needs. Frankly, any of the other vendors in this roundup will deliver a better experience and print quality, but our favorite remains Shutterfly for its vibrant photo reproduction and great, fun content.

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  • PhodogCO
    Ugh, read reviews on Shutterfy before using. Their customer service has gone way downhill. They charge $40 for "guaranteed delivery date," which turns out only means your order is scheduled to be delivered on that date, but will likely not arrive in time. Customer service is not helpful, I called several times the day before a very important guaranteed delivery was scheduled to arrive and each time customer service gave me a different answer as to when the order would arrive at its destination; responses varied from 1-7 days. The guaranteed delivery order finally arrived 6 days after it was supposed to arrive. Customer service (via phone) has apparently been outsourced to a foreign country and you can expect to be disconnected at least once (though they will call you back). I believe live chat is now conducted via a programmed robot. Customer service can only follow a script; if your situation falls outside of a script you are out of luck. Very impersonal.
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