Picaboo

Picaboo (11 x 9-inch calendar for $24.99) is a mixed bag: It has fun, easy-to-navigate software with a great search engine for finding and using content; but it has no clip art, and background use is limited to the photo pages. More significantly, our printed calendar had uneven photo reproduction; some pictures were attractive, and others had no vibrancy.

Creating your calendar

Picaboo's interface is one of the easiest to navigate and is downright fun to use. The varied layouts are editable, with cursor control over text and photo placement, and photo rotation and size. The tabbed sidebar provides direct access to all elements, such as layouts, backgrounds, photos, pages and photo editing tools. The Photo Editing tab includes great controls over zoom and crop, exposure, border, shape cutouts and corners. But the drop shadow (which works only on photos and clip art and not text) lacks color or direction options. Photo editing tools include sliders for brightness, contrast, saturation and opacity, plus single-click button filters for black and white, sepia and red-eye removal.

Unfortunately, Picaboo offers no clip art or other embellishments, and you can't apply a background to the white date grid pages. On the other hand, it has the best search interface for finding backgrounds in its large database, which includes appealing photographic images, graphics, textures and solid colors.

The tools for marking special dates are not as robust as those on Shutterfly. A check mark adds U.S. holidays, but there's no batch customization or ability to save added events for future calendars. However, you can drag and drop a picture onto a date and type in each date box to add personal events.

The printed calendar

Picaboo's photo quality is OK but uneven. Inexpert viewers might be satisfied with the pictures, especially if the images were of family members having fun. But in comparison to the Shutterfly calendar or most of Mixbook's pictures, Picaboo's photo reproduction generally lacked life and vibrancy. What's more, the print quality is uneven; several pictures earned ratings of 7 to 8 (on a scale of 1 to 10), some were given a 6 or 6.5, a couple scored a 9 and one got a 9.5 (December).

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuideCredit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuideInterestingly, Picaboo handled the more challenging photos, such as the double-photo layouts of September (9) and October (8.5), rather nicely, though they were not as appealing as Shutterfly's. Picaboo had the most difficulty with well-exposed photos that shouldn't have been challenging. For instance, the March picture (6) had a green tinge and low contrast, and the June photo (6.5) was flat and grayish.

When we asked Picaboo to reprint the calendar so we could see if it could be improved, the service was willing to do so for free. However, a Picaboo phone support representative also said that unless we edited some of the pictures, the reprint would be identical to the original calendar.

Calendar options and other products offered

Picaboo has only two options for calendars, both of which are traditional paper wall calendars: a 11 x 9-inch calendar for $24.99 (matte date and photo pages) and the 14 x 11-inch Premium calendar for $39.99 (laminated photo, matte date pages).

Other Picaboo products include photo books, flat and folded greeting cards, collage posters, photo panels, school yearbooks, and phone and tablet cases. Picaboo also offers paper prints ranging from 4 x 6 inches to 16 x 20 inches, and gallery-wrapped canvas prints from 15 x 10 inches to 36 x 24 inches.

Bottom line

The great convenience of Picaboo's search engine and its highly accessible, well-designed interface nearly offsets the lack of clip art. However, most families will sorely miss being able to add fun embellishments to their calendars. Nonetheless, it's the lack of quality control over photo reproduction that diminished our enthusiasm for Picaboo.

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  • PhodogCO
    Ugh, read reviews on Shutterfy before using. Their customer service has gone way downhill. They charge $40 for "guaranteed delivery date," which turns out only means your order is scheduled to be delivered on that date, but will likely not arrive in time. Customer service is not helpful, I called several times the day before a very important guaranteed delivery was scheduled to arrive and each time customer service gave me a different answer as to when the order would arrive at its destination; responses varied from 1-7 days. The guaranteed delivery order finally arrived 6 days after it was supposed to arrive. Customer service (via phone) has apparently been outsourced to a foreign country and you can expect to be disconnected at least once (though they will call you back). I believe live chat is now conducted via a programmed robot. Customer service can only follow a script; if your situation falls outside of a script you are out of luck. Very impersonal.
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  • natalymalcon88
    Thank you for the information you need. I just needed it. Photos many, many successful. But you rarely return to them. I want to see them more often.
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