Like everything else it sells, Walmart's photo printing services are priced aggressively. However, as is often the case, you get what you pay for. The company offers little in the way of creative flexibility when you're designing a photo book, card or calendar, and the finished products are quite unimpressive. If you're on a budget, try Costco instead for OK photos and software products that are limited but not as restrictive. When it comes to the best photo book, best photo card, and best photo calendar, spend a bit more with Mixbook for great flexible software and far better print quality.
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What I liked
Convenient photo editing
Walmart Photos (like Amazon Print and CVS Photo) uses Snapfish's software, but Walmart's version is the most minimalist of the four, offering very few tools and options. Walmart's interfaces for creating photo books, calendars and cards are identically threadbare and therefore are remarkably easy to use.
While far from as comprehensive or sophisticated as Mixbook, Walmart's photo-editing tools are immediately accessible. Simply click on a picture to open a crop/zoom slider and then click/drag to pan the zoomed picture. Editing tools are fairly limited: tilt, brightness, redeye and a sepia filter.
Dragging and dropping a photo onto a date box in the calendar grid automatically resizes the picture to fit into the box. I was then able to zoom and pan the image within the box.
Double-clicking a date box opens a text dialog, so you can add a memo about that date. However, the text options are minimal.
In addition, in the My Events window, I was able to add several date-box captions (but not photos) such as for birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions.
What I disliked
Every element on a template's page is fixed. Photo and text placeholders can't be reshaped, resized, moved, rotated or deleted. Nor can you simply drop a photo onto a page. Clip art and text that are part of the template design are permanently fixed in place.
Layout & background frustrations
While alternative layouts are available, they are few in number, deceptively categorized and don't always work. For instance, layouts are organized by the number of photos per page (which is the industry standard). However, when I selected the three-photos layout category in the photo book interface, only one layout was displayed, and that was for a single picture on the page. What's more, all my attempts failed when I tried to replace a layout on a page where I'd already placed a photo. I had to delete my placed photo before I could change the layout.
The only alternative backgrounds are the few that are available for the currently selected template. I could easily change to another template if I decided that I preferred its background options. But in doing so, I lost all my placed photos and text, and had to start all over.
Limited editing options
Walmart omits more than it offers. It has no borders, drop shadows, shapes or a cutouts library of clip art. In the calendar interface, I couldn't add text to the top page (where the photos are).
The printed projects
We were not impressed with Walmart's printed products. Of our three Walmart projects, our jury rated the card and calendar average; the photo book fared worse.
Like CVS, Walmart offers same-day pickup on some products. I advise against buying a book, calendar or card that will be produced in your local Walmart store, unless speed is more important to you than quality.
The photo book
Walmart's photo book was poorly constructed. It had no end pages, the back cover was askew in relationship to the interior pages and the messily applied glue pulled away from the book's spine.
The front-cover photos were soft and high contrast, resulting in a loss of shadow detail. A magenta color shift gave the skin tones of Caucasian subjects an artificial-looking tint, though it warmed images of African Americans. Interior photos were inconsistent. Some were well exposed with a pleasing color balance. Others were too dark with blocky shadows. Similarly, a number of them had a color shift toward coolness, while others were pushed toward a warm color temperature. Cover type was solid but had soft edges. Interior text wasn't solid.
Printed on average card stock with a smooth finish, the calendar was nothing special. While colors were relatively good, there was no sparkle or life to them. The exposure of most pictures was generally good, but some were overexposed and others were a bit muddy in the dark tones, creating blocked shadows. Type was solid and generally acceptable, though the edges were a bit jagged.
Walmart's photo card, which was printed on smooth, lightweight card stock, was similarly lackluster. Photo exposure and sharpness were consistent for all skin tones. However, color balance was shifted slightly to magenta and shadows were a bit blocky. Type was solid but with a slight jaggedness.
Pricing and options
My 8 x 8-inch, 20-page hardcover Walmart photo book cost $21.96. The same book as a softcover would be $17.96 and $39.96 as a lay-flat product. Other book sizes range from 2 x 3 inches to 12 x 12 inches, and some are available with linen or leather covers in addition to the standard photo wrap.
I paid $17.47 for my 8 x 11-inch wall calendar. Other wall calendar sizes are 11 x 14 inches for $25.86 and 12 x 12 inches for $22.42.
MORE: Best Calendar Apps
My 5 x 7-inch Walmart card cost 87 cents each with no discounts for volume purchases. A 4 x 8-inch card would have been 67 cents. Rounded corners cost 10 cents more, while Elegant (a keystone trim) or scalloped edges cost 20 cents. Envelopes with your printed return address on the back (or blank white envelopes) are included.
Walmart has a sizable selection of other photo products, including mugs and travel tumblers, plates and placemats, blankets and pillows, phone cases and keychains, and more.
Walmart's software was the most minimalist of all that we tested; it has few creative options and inflexible templates. Yes, the prices are low, but the printed products are no bargain. They are unimpressive and at best only average. If budget is important, check out Costco, which has somewhat better software and OK photos. But if creativity, fun and print quality are more important than price, spend more at Mixbook, so you can be proud of the book, calendar or card that you create.