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Printique photo book, photo calendar and photo card
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Printique gets our nod as the best print service for photo books, cards, and calendars for the versatility and power of its software, and the high quality of its products. However, Mixbook not only came in as a very close second, but it is sometimes less expensive than Printique, depending on the product, volume and paper stock you choose.

Pros

  • +

    Beautiful photo book, calendar and card

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    Versatile, creative, flexible software

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    Attractive fully editable templates

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    Intelligent content organization

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    Large selection of great cutout shapes

Cons

  • -

    Doesn’t retain color choices for drop shadow, border or text

Printique is the online print service of Adorama, a camera store that has long catered to the most discerning of customers: professional photographers seeking quality equipment, supplies and print production. In our tests, Printique lived up to the Adorama reputation, delivering creative, flexible software and the highest quality print products. 

However, Printique won over Mixbook by a very small margin. And price differences between the two can vary, so that depending on the product, volume and paper stock you choose, Printique may or may not have a cost advantage over Mixbook. We recommend checking both companies out before deciding which one to use for your project.

Printique review: Prices

Printique photo books
A photo book ordered through Printique costs $49.99 for an 8 x 8-inch hardcover layflat book, which is Printique’s least expensive hardcover. Printique has a wide array of photo books. Hardcover layflat books range from 6 x 4.5 inches ($37.99) to 12x12 inches ($81.99). Linen or Pebble paper is additional. Softcover books are available in several sizes from 4 x 4-inches ($9.99) to 11 x 8.5-inch ($14.99). Other styles are fabric cover books (from $47.99) and leather covered books (from $83.99).

Printique photo calendars
Calendars start at $25.99 for a 12-month 10 x 10-inch calendar. An 18-month 10 x 10-inch calendar is $40.99. Similar centerfold 12-month calendars are available in 6 x 6-inch ($15.99) and 8 x 8-inch ($19.99). Printique also offers top hanging 12 x 18-inch calendars starting at $34.99, and small desktop calendars starting at $15.99.

Printique photo cards
Greeting cards in a variety of sizes (such as 4x8 inches or 5x7 inches) come in packs of 12 for $1.75 each, regardless of what paper stock you choose. Buying one at a time will cost you a whopping $4.99 each. Blank envelopes are included; Printique doesn’t offer return address printing.

Printique review: Software

Printique's software is powerful, highly creative and fun to use, giving you lots of  control by providing a depth of options in a very accessible interface.

Printique has a sizable library of attractive template designs for books and cards, though fewer for your calendar. Regardless of which template you choose, you can customize your book, calendar or card, because all page elements are fully editable, including the calendar’s date grid page.

As with Mixbook, it was a pleasure to not have to go hunting for the various tools to modify photos or clip art; just click on a picture or placed clip art to access all edit controls, such as borders, drop shadows, opacity controls, as well as resize, rotate, and more. The width and color of drop shadows and borders are defined by a 99-step slider (for the width) and a color picker. The text tools in the book, calendar and card interfaces have similar click-to-edit controls. Wherever you want to add a color to your project (such as in text, solid backgrounds, borders or drop shadows), you have full control, using a 24-bit palette, an eyedropper to pick up colors from the screen, and both Hex and RGB numerical values. I was able to set default global settings for my book and calendar, which is a nice time-saver in those multi-page projects.

(Image credit: Printique)

The enormous searchable libraries of clip art, backgrounds and frames are organized into easy-to-understand descriptive categories. All the content I used in a book project was held in an "In This Book" sidebar for possible re-use; I wish Printique offereda similar holding area for calendars. Printique has the widest and coolest selection of cutouts; these include all the letters in the alphabet, heraldic shields, freeform shapes, in addition to an unusual variety of hearts, triangles and circles.

(Image credit: Printique)

Like Mixbook and Shutterfly, I could add clip art, photos and text behind or on my calendar grid, and move, resize, rotate, add, and delete all elements.

(Image credit: Printique)

Placing a photo and caption into any date box is simple and convenient. But Printique goes further than any other vendor; I could edit not only the caption but the date number’s font and color which helped to make it visible regardless of what photo I put in the box. Printique even gave me a choice among 13 different calendar grid styles which could then be moved, resized and rotated. 

(Image credit: Printique)

The one thing that Printique doesn’t have for event settings (which Mixbook does) is a manager that maintains a list of your personal events for use in other calendars.

Printique review: Print Quality

Printique printed book cover

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Printique photo books
Printique’s layflat book is a professionally produced book with top quality binding. The smooth, thick semi-gloss pages and end papers have a luscious feel. The photos are lovely and lively; of all the photo books we created, Printique’s were  closest to the original photos. 

Printique printed book

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Skintones were very attractive with a natural warmth, though some of the cover images had a slight blue tinge, but doesn’t diminish their appeal. 

Printique printed book

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Exposure was excellent with great detail throughout the dynamic range, and brighter midtones than Mixbook, which adds up to a crisp clarity in the vast majority of images. Focus was sharp and clear. Type was clean, crisp and beautifully formed.

Printique printed calendar

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Printique calendar
The Printique calendar boasted beautiful natural skintones and rich colors that were very well balanced between the dark and light complexions. The excellent exposure provided great detail throughout the dynamic range. 

Printique printed calendar

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The sharp-as-a-tack focus was the best of all the calendars. Type was clean and well-formed. The good quality semi-gloss paper had a nice weight, but wasn’t as heavy as Mixbook’s.

Printique printed card

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Printique photo cards
The Printique card was a professional-quality print job with nice general photo appeal. Colors, which were just slightly better than Mixbook’s, had warm tones with a good balance between dark and light skintones. 

Printique printed card

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While Printique’s midtones were better than those on the Mixbook card, shadows on the front were too dark. There was plenty of detail in highlights, and focus was crisp and sharp. Type was well-formed, but on very close inspection it had a sprinkling of edge dropouts. The card stock was a good weight with a nice tactile feel, similar to Mixbook’s.

Printique review: Verdict

Printique nudged out Mixbook to win this year’s best print service title, but the two ran neck-and-neck throughout the judging. They both have fun, easy-to-use yet powerful software that gives you the freedom and great tools to create the book, calendar or card you envision. Printique’s book and calendar print quality can’t be beaten, but Mixbook ties with Printique in card print quality.

If budget is an issue, the choice between the two companies isn’t cut and dry — it depends on what product, volume and paper stock you choose. Printique’s only hardcovers are layflat books; Mixbook’s traditionally stitched hardcovers are less expensive, though Mixbook’s layflats cost more. Their calendars are priced similarly, considering the fact that they offer slightly different sizes. 

Card pricing is more complex. If you’re getting only a small volume, Printique’s cards are less expensive, regardless of the card stock you choose. But Printique doesn’t offer a discount on cards when you buy a larger number and Mixbook does. So when you get above 50-100 cards (depending on stock), Mixbook will have the better price.

So choose Printique for your book or calendar if your only criteria is print quality excellence. But if merely beautiful print quality is fine with you, choose between Printique and Mixbook based on the one who offers the best prices for the product and volume you’re ordering.

Sally Wiener Grotta is the president and lead analyst of DigitalBenchmarks test lab (www.DigitalBenchmarks.com). The scripts she created for various tech publications for testing and evaluating digital cameras, image quality, software and related technologies have become industry standards. Among her numerous books is the first major volume on image processing “Digital Imaging for Visual Artists” (McGraw-Hill), co-authored with Daniel Grotta. Her hundreds of reviews, stories and columns have appeared in scores of magazines, journals and online publications.