It's the time of year when everyone's scrambling to order holiday cards and party invitations. But with all the online print services available, which one will help you most easily create the card you want, and which service will produce a card you will be proud to share with your family, friends and associates?
After testing eight of the more popular sites for photo products, Mixbook received our Editors' Choice for photo postcards, because that site's software best enables your creativity while still being easy to use. And the photo card that Mixbook produced is beautifully printed, with great color, dynamic range and clarity.
Our best-value pick is GotPrint: Although its software isn't as fun to use or intuitive as Mixbook's, this site still produced a quality postcard for a very reasonable price.
Best Photo Card Service: Mixbook (9/10 stars)
For the second year running, Mixbook was our top choice because of its easy-to-use software, which let us modify every aspect of the card, and because the site had a huge library of clip art. And the cards we received were top-notch, with accurate, saturated colors. Mixbook's cards aren't cheap; a pack of 100 4 x 6-inch cards costs $1.15 each, but the company often runs sales that bring the price down.
Best Value: GotPrint (8/10 stars)
GotPrint's service, which is aimed more at businesses than home users, wasn't as intuitive as Mixbook's, and could be intimidating for novices. Still, the printed cards were excellent, and GotPrint's prices — the lowest among those we tested — can't be beat.
Apple Photos (8/10 stars)
Our photo cards from Apple's service looked great. Its card-making app, while intuitive, didn't offer as much creative control as Mixbook or GotPrint did.
Picaboo (7/10 stars)
Picaboo's software was nearly as good as Mixbook's in terms of flexibility, creativity and intelligence. However, Picaboo charges more, and its print and photo quality were not as good as Mixbook's.
Snapfish (6/10 stars)
Snapfish's software offered few options for things such as clip art, and its templates were far too restrictive. Plus, the printed cards were of merely average quality.
VistaPrint (5/10 stars)
VistaPrint's prices were nearly as inexpensive as GotPrint's, and its software has a large library of templates and art. It's too bad that the print and photo quality of our cards were so poor.
Amazon Print (4/10 stars)
Even though it's powered by Snapfish, Amazon Print's limited software and poor print quality makes this a service to skip.
Costco (2/10 stars)
There is nothing to recommend with Costco's service, which gives you almost no options and turns out poorly printed cards. It's not even a bargain for Costco members.
How We Tested Photo Card Services
This year, we put Amazon Print, Apple Photo, Costco Print, GotPrint, Mixbook, Picaboo, Snapfish, and Vistaprint to the test to see which is the best photo-card printing service.
We designed a two-sided party invitation, which included a photo on the front, with relevant clip art and type on both the front and back. We aimed to use a background with a starry sky, an oval-shaped photo, text rotated at an angle and drop shadows throughout. However, several of the services did not permit some, or many of these customizations.
We used a photo of a friend hugging her dog, a black labrador retriever. We did no editing of the photo, before or after inserting it into the postcards. That way, no variables would be introduced that might skew our judging of the various sources' photo reproduction.
Then, we used each website's online software to create postcards as close as possible to the design we envisioned. Given the wide variety of paper available from the various vendors, which would make it difficult to match the cardstock in every instance, we selected the default stock.
In rating the software, we used the following criteria:
- Ease of use
- User interface and workflow
- Creative flexibility
- Quality of templates, clip art, backgrounds and effects
After our cards arrived, we assembled a jury of print and photography experts to rate the products, based on the following criteria:
- Overall appeal and quality
- Photo quality
- Overall appeal and quality
- Photo quality
- Color and skin tones
- Dynamic range
- Focus and clarity
- Quality of the type
While the jury also commented on the paper stock, envelopes and the tactile feel of the cards, these judgements were not factored into the numerical rating.
In our ratings, we gave the greatest weight to the print quality of the service's photo postcards. That's because what matters most is the look and feel of the card you'll be sending to friends, family and associates. We also took the cost of the cards into consideration.
Credit: Tom's Guide
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