Mpix is an online print service of Miller's Lab, based in Pittsburg, Kansas which provides professional imaging services nationwide. In other words, you would expect them to understand photography. However, we were disappointed in its uneven photo reproduction and only average print quality. In addition, the software (which is the same as licensed by Costco) has some severe limitations. For more consistent quality and fun, creative software, we prefer Mixbook or Printique.
Mpix review: Prices
Mpix photo book
An 8 x 8-inch 20-page hardcover book starts at $34.99. Mpix book has a variety of other books, such as a 5 x 5 Economy Hardcover ($29.99), an 11 x 8.5 Premium Linen Hardcover ($54.99), a 9 x 8-inch Premium softcover ($24.99) and a 10x10-inch Premium custom Hardcover ($69.99).
Our test 11 x 8.5-inch center-fold wall calendar cost $23.00. Discounts are available for volume. For instance, two to ten calendars cost $22.00 each, and 11 to 50 cost $19.00 each. The same prices apply to 12x18-inch calendars with the binding on the top. Single sheet 8 x 10 photo calendars are also available for $2.39.
Mpix photo card
Mpix’s cards are priced on a sliding scale by volume. For our 5 x 7-inch card, 5 cards were $3.44 each, 25 cards would be $1.64 each, and up to 110 cards would be $1.59 each. (Larger volumes are available.) Five different types of paper are available for the same price. White envelopes are included. Kraft or silver envelopes cost $1.00 more per 5 cards. A printed return address on your envelope is an additional $1.25/5, and to have a printed return and a recipient address costs $1.75/5.
Mpix review: Software
Mpix’s software is a hodgepodge that does some things quite well, while others are poorly conceived and miserly in execution.
The basics of Mpix's book, calendar and card software are quite similar. In fact, the most significant difference among the three isn’t the interface, but the templates. The card templates card templates have design elements that can’t be moved or deleted. The book and calendar templates are flexible and editable; everything can be moved, resized, reshaped or deleted, plus you can add elements wherever you want.
Mpix’s limited number of straight borders are of fixed width and only specific colors, neither of which can be adjusted. In addition, the border colors do not necessarily match the text colors, nor are there any numerical color values to help with such matching. The attractive Fancy Frames include Mpix's only drop shadows, all of which but one are associated with some frames.
The comparatively small collections of clip art available in the book and card interfaces are similar to Costco Photo Center. These are intelligently organized into descriptive categories, and some (such as the Jewelry photorealistic clip art) are very attractive. On the other hand, the more limited poorly organized selection of illustrated clip art that I could use with my calendar were unexciting line drawings most of which were black and white. If you don't like the backgrounds provided with your selected template, the interface has a small library of mostly cartoonish backgrounds you can use.
Calendar events management requires too many mouse clicks. But once I reached the Event edit window, I was impressed with the size and ease of using it. I could drag and drop to add or replace a picture, and use the full text tool to create a caption.
Mpix review: Print Quality
Mpix photo book
While the Mpix book looks okay on the surface, with nicely textured end papers, and pages that are a good weight, the book has problems. The paper has a coarse feel, the binding stitches show between pages, and the end papers are cracking at the center edge.
While the printed photos have good, true to life color, the pictures have a flat dynamic range with diminished highlights. Focus is a bit soft, but not significantly so. Type is well-formed though with slightly soft edges.
The photos on our Mpix calendar were generally okay, with average colors, clear details and good transitions. However, they are, for the most part, somewhat overexposed.
Most of the pictures are sharp, but some had a slight softness. The type is a bit jagged. While the paper was the thickest of all the calendars, it doesn’t have the feel of quality stock.
Mpix photo cards
At first glance, the photos on our Mpix card look sharp and clear. But it becomes quickly obvious that Mpix doesn’t do a great job on photo printing, and instead uses high contrast and black edging around light-colored subjects to convey a superficial (and false) sense of sharpness.
The exposure is washed out, the pictures have loss of detail in the shadows and degraded gradients from shadow to midtone. Some of the text is well-formed, but other type has ink dropouts. While the paper is the thickest of the cards, it feels like cheap cardboard.
Mpix review: Verdict
Mpix is a generally good, but not great print service. The software has severe limitations, photo quality is just so-so, and the printed products are nothing special. If you’re going to go to the trouble of creating a book, calendar or card, you deserve to have something that’s more than average.
For the best software that’s flexible and creative as well as fun to use, we recommend bypassing Mpix and trying Mixbook or Printique. You'll get far better quality print products that fit your creative vision.