Mixbook Photo Book Review: Great Software, Very Good Photos

In past years, Mixbook has been our top choice for photo books. While its easy-to-use software is still our favorite among those we tested, this year, the photo reproduction of our test book wasn't on the same level as the AdoramaPix's or the Shutterfly's.

Creating Your Book: Fun and versatile

Mixbook's photo-book software is both easy to use and highly flexible. The generous libraries of beautiful templates, backgrounds and attractive clip art are conveniently searchable. Any backgrounds or clip art placed in our book were kept in a handy area for easy reuse.

For a nice personal touch, we were able to upload our own images to the library to use as backgrounds and clip art.

Mixbook offers a large selection of varied layouts that are fully editable, with text and photo placeholders that you can move, delete, resize, reshape and rotate. However, when placing photos, we didn't need placeholders; we just dragged and dropped the photo and clip art onto the page.  

Mixbook's photo-editing options provide great control over photo shape cutouts, borders, drop shadows, exposure and color, and a handful of effects. For instance, the photo drop shadow and border options include access to a full 24-bit color palette, as well as thumbnails that include an area of recently used colors. However, it doesn't have the drop shadows for text or clip art that we've come to expect from Mixbook.

The Printed Book

When I received my printed book from Mixbook, I was disappointed in the quality of the physical book, which had a creased and puckered cover, and a skewed image wrap. I was also surprised that some of the pictures were overexposed. Given that, over several years of testing Mixbook has consistently delivered very high quality products, I ordered a reprint. The second book had far better book production, with a clean cover, nice tight binding and an appropriate image wrap. The pages were a pleasant semigloss paper.

The photos in both printings were crisp and lively, with very good color and clarity. However, some of the images were overexposed, and had no true blacks; a number were oversharpened. Due to the overexposure, details in both highlights and shadows were washed out. Under magnification, the type showed soft edges.

Price and Options

Our 20-page, 8.5 x 8.5-inch Mixbook hardbound book with semigloss pages cost $34.99 (which was a bit more expensive than Shutterfly's $29.99). We could have ordered pearl finish instead of glossy cover for an additional $8.50, or a lay-flat book with heavier matte finish pages for an additional $25. A 10 x 10-inch book from Mixbook cost $49.99, and a 12 x 12-inch book was $59.99. A 7 x 7-inch lay-flat softcover would have been $24.99. If you're not in a hurry, wait for Mixbook's frequent coupons and sales.

MORE: Best Services for Creating and Printing Photo Books

Mixbook offered a nice selection of other  products, including photo calendars, postcards, folded greeting cards, magnets, prints and posters.

Bottom Line

Regarding software, Mixbook still aces out Shutterfly. In fact, Mixbook's photo-book software remains our favorite for flexibility, creativity, ease of use and content. And Mixbook's photos were generally quite lovely, though several were overexposed. However, the exposure of our photos in Shutterfly’s book was more consistent, which is why it edged out Mixbook. If price is no object, our pick for a top professional-quality book with beautiful photos, and great, flexible software, is AdoramaPix. For the cost-conscious, Shutterfly is our top choice this year, but you won't go wrong with Mixbook.

Specs

Import photos fromInstagram, Facebook, Flickr, Google Photos, Smugmug, your device
Templates & layoutsFully editable
BackgroundsSearchable library of beautiful backgrounds
Clip artSearchable library of very attractive clip art
TextFully customizable

Credit: Tom's Guide

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