Mimeo review

A middling service, with good paper quality and detail, at an attractive price

Mimeo photo book on table
(Image: © Mimeo)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Mimeo provides respectable quality at respectable prices. It excels in a few areas, such as paper quality and image sharpness, and it includes some nice bonuses such as a dust jacket for the book. It's also generally fun to work with, which goes a long way to getting these projects off the ground.

Pros

  • +

    High-quality paper, especially in calendars

  • +

    Sharp images, with good detail

  • +

    Huge selection of page backgrounds with customizable colors

  • +

    Attractive text fonts with outlining and many color options

  • +

    Live chat support

Cons

  • -

    Book occasionally misses skin tones: some pinkish, some greenish

  • -

    Limited options for photo borders

  • -

    No image filters or editing capabilities

  • -

    No stickers/clipart

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Among the best photo book services, Mimeo's service is a joy to use, and generally a pleasure to behold. Though not perfect, image quality was solid throughout its books and calendars. Like its quality, Mimeo's prices were also in the middle of the pack, yielding good overall value. Its software is fun to use and has some very fun features — such as great customization options for backgrounds and text. But the complete lack of standard features found in other services, such as stickers, is disappointing. Read the rest of our Mimeo review to see if this is the best photo book printing service for you.

Mimeo review: Prices

Mimeo photo books
An 8 x 8-inch hardcover book with a glossy cover and dust jacket starts at $32.99 for 20 pages. Other size hardcovers include 10 x 10 (from $46.99) 8.5 x 11 (from $34.99) and 10 x 13 inches (from $54.99). Softcover books start at 8 x 6 for $13.99 for 20 pages and 8 x 8-inchs for $19.99.

Mimeo calendars
A Mimeo 13 x 10-inch calendar starts at $26.99 for a 12-month format.

Mimeo review: Software

Mimeo offers 38 book templates and 37 calendar designs. (You can also create your own from scratch, as I did.) Mimeo's design software presents a clean, spare interface that may be less intimidating than the pro-designer look of tools from Printique or Shutterfly. (Although we did find it was a bit slow to load.) But with simplicity comes some limitations. For instance, Mimeo lacks photo image filters and editing capabilities, stickers/clip art, and drop shadows. And you can't add backgrounds to the grid pages in calendars, only to the upper page featuring the photos. Photo borders are also limited to basic square designs; there are no patterned versions such as zigzags or lace. But Mimeo provides extensive options for customizing the width and color of these borders.  

Mimeo's backgrounds are excellent, however. The tool provides a vast array of pre-set colors organized in color families, such as Reds, Red-Purples, Teals, and Greens. You can't create custom colors, but the tools for configuring them on other services are overly complex for people who aren't design pros. There is a very fun customization option for the patterned backgrounds, in which you can change the color of both the foreground pattern and the background behind it. For instance, you could have yellow flowers on a blue background, pink flowers on a tan background, etc. 

(Image credit: Mimeo)

The text tools are also above average. Mimeo provides an attractive collection of fonts, with a respectable assortment of color options (though again, no customization capability). And it includes the ability to add outlining, such as purple text outlined in yellow. You have to select font sizes from a predefined list, however. So for example, you have to go with 72- or 84-point font; you can't type in "80."

(Image credit: Mimeo)

The interface and options are very similar between book and calendar design, with a few calendar-specific features. For instance, calendars include, by default, a long list of holidays, such as Christmas Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Juneteenth. You can also add any custom events you want, such as Diwali, Day of the Dead, or My Birthday. When you edit or create an event, you can add configurable text (though not with outlining) and an image that appears in that square on the calendar.

The overall calendar design interface is slightly confusing, as the preview shows only the top (image) or bottom (calendar grid) page at a time. (Other software such as Mixbook have the option to show one or both pages for a given month.) And the top-page preview doesn't state what month it goes with. One nice touch: In addition to adding photos, a background, and text to the front cover of the calendar, you can do the same to the back. (Mixbook also allows this.)

If you ever get stuck, both the online interface and the apps offer live chat support.

Mimeo review: Print Quality

Mimeo photo books
Our judges placed Mimeo squarely in the middle of the pack for overall print quality. Construction is quite good, with sturdy binding, thick end papers, and thick, high-quality pages. Those pages have a pleasing, smooth, matte finish that limits glare. The book includes an attractive dust jacket (with images on the inside flaps) — the only one in our roundup — as well as a protective sleeve for storage. You cannot place images on the back cover, however — as you can on Mixbook, Printique, and Shutterfly.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Images appear sharp, with good detail, and pleasing, strong contrast that doesn't go too far. For instance, in a photo of two women, one who appears in slight shadow is still bright enough to see clearly. She looks more obscured in some other photo books. In another photo, a woman's jet-black hair retains some detail, even in the shadowy part of the image.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Mimeo often gets color right. The hardcover and dust jacket strike the right balance of white and brown skin tones in a family shot - neither making the pale father too pink or the darker child too light. Other times, Mimeo goes overboard. A very pale aerialist performer under bright light appears rather flush. At the other extreme, the woman with the jet-black hair has very pale skin that appears just a tad greenish. The print process also produces some graininess in skin, especially evident in the darker tones. This occurs to some extent on the other books (save Printique's) but is not as pronounced.

Mimeo grain sample

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Mimeo calendars
Mimeo offers calendars in just one rather-large 13 x 10-inch size (the second-largest behind Costco Photo Center in our roundup). While this also landed right in the middle of the pack for overall quality, there was more variation in particular aspects.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Judges weren't impressed with the basic-grade paper quality of the cover. But they gave the highest ratings to skin tones, which didn't drift into the pinks or greens that we saw with photo books. Overall color quality came in third behind Mixbook and the top-performing Printique product.

Mimeo review: Verdict

Mimeo is a middle of the road performer and value, which is not a bad thing at all. So why choose it over cheaper or higher-performing brands such as Costco Photo Center

It comes down to fun. The software is fairly easy to use, and the highly configurable backgrounds and text expand your creative options. However, when it comes to designing your photo book, Mixbook offers a greater array of tools. And in terms of overall quality, Printique stands out above all others. Still, Mimeo has nice quality touches, such as the book dust jacket and its extra-large calendar format — that elevate it among the best photo books.  

Sean Captain is a freelance technology and science writer, editor and photographer. At Tom's Guide, he has reviewed cameras, including most of Sony's Alpha A6000-series mirrorless cameras, as well as other photography-related content. He has also written for Fast Company, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired.