Tom's Guide Verdict
Mimeo provides respectable quality at respectable prices. Its cards are top-notch, and its books and calendars excels in a few areas, such as paper quality and image sharpness. It's also generally fun to work with, which goes a long way to getting these projects off the ground.
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
Book occasionally misses skin tones: some pinkish, some greenish
Limited options for photo borders
No image filters or editing capabilities
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
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. For cards, Mimeo was roughly tied with Shutterfly for producing the highest quality, excelling in skin tones, contrast, and detail.
Mimeo's prices were 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. And the ordering process is rather clunky. Read the rest of our Mimeo review to see if this is the best photo 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.
A Mimeo 13 x 10-inch calendar starts at $26.99 for a 12-month format.
Mimeo photo card
Mimeo offers flat cards in two sizes and orientations: 4x6 and 6x4 starting at $1.19 each, and 5x7 and 7x5 starting at $1.69. 5x7 and 7x5 folding cards start at $1.99 (Envelopes are included with all options.) The price per card does not decrease with volume--unlike with most other services. Matte and glossy finishes are the same price, and Mimeo doesn't offer any extras, such as rounded corners or metal foil print.
Mimeo review: Software
Mimeo offers just 38 book templates, 37 calendar designs, and 44 card options—far fewer than rivals. (You can also create your own from scratch, as I did.) For instance, Printique offers 295 card templates, and Costco has 805. (It doesn't, for instance, offer wedding invitation templates.) 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. All products include a small Mimeo logo on the back, which you can't remove using the web interface (but you can in the plugin app for MacOS photos).
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.
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."
The interface and options are very similar between book, calendar, and card designs, 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.)
The ordering process was inordinately complex. For instance: You can't specify the number of cards to order until rather late in the process. And Mimeo doesn't offer a traditional shopping cart that you can add multiple items to and review--or go back to later. If you want to buy multiple items (say a book and a calendar, you'll have to place each order separately and therefore may pay more in shipping.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 photo cards
Mimeo produced some of the best-looking cards we saw-roughly tied with Shutterfly's offerings, but priced much lower (about half as much). That yields by far the best quality for your dollar. Our judges especially liked the accuracy of skin tones--across a range including Black, White, and East Asian subjects. Contrast and sharpness were near front of the pack for both cards, as well; and color quality was at or near the top. Judges hated the flimsy envelopes, however, rating them the worst of the bunch by a wide margin.
Mimeo review: Verdict
Mimeo is a middle of the road performer on books and calendars, but a standout on cards. And it's a good value in all these categories. 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 in books and calendars. 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 printing services.
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.
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