Mixbook Photo Calendar Review: A Great Alternative, Thanks to Its Software

Mixbook's calendar-creation software was the best of any service we tested, but its photo reproduction could be better.

Our Verdict

Mixbook's calendar-creation software was the best of any service we tested, but its photo reproduction could be better.

For

  • Highly flexible, creative, easy-to-use software
  • All elements fully editable
  • Very attractive content
  • Great floating palette with effects presets and precise user controls
  • Very attractive printed calendar

Against

  • Photo reproduction lags a bit behind Shutterfly's
  • Backgrounds search engine not fully implemented

Mixbook's calendar software was the most powerful and fun of any of the calendar-creation sites we tested. It's ideal for newbies looking for easy presets and great content, as well as those looking for flexibility and options that release their personal creativity. While the finished product didn't look as nice as the calendar we created with Shutterfly, Mixbook will not disappoint.

Creating Your Calendar

Mixbook's professional-quality calendar templates were fully editable, as were the numerous and varied layouts. We interactively moved, deleted, rotated, reshaped and resized layouts, adding photos, text, clip art and even template decorative elements. The photo and text placeholders were helpful but unnecessary, because we were able to easily drag and drop elements anywhere on both the photo and calendar grid pages. The large libraries of very attractive backgrounds and clip art were searchable, with any we used in our calendar saved in a Project well. However, the clip art search engine responded much better to keywords (such as "sky" or "fireworks") than the backgrounds search did.

Immediately after selecting our template, we were prompted to list events (such as birthdays or anniversaries), which were automatically added to our calendar as well as saved in our account for future calendars. In another tab, we selected holidays (from an extensive list) that we wanted in our calendar. Once we were in edit mode, we interactively added other images and text to dates.

Mixbook made it very easy to customize our calendar and make it fully our own. The floating palette for effects was particularly fun and rich in creative opportunities. The palette's tabs for drop shadows, borders, cutouts, reflections and transparency provided us with easy, one-click presets or the option of taking full control over how the effect would be applied. For instance, we had the choice of selecting our photo borders from a limited palette or a full-spectrum palette, or of using an eyedropper tool to pick up a color anywhere on our screen.

Similarly, we used the custom drop-shadow settings (for photo, clip art or text) to define the shadow's blur, distance, angle, opacity and color. Once we set the effect on one photo (text block or clip art), a single click applied that effect to all similar elements on the page. And the palette saved our last-used settings, so such effects were consistent throughout our calendar.

The Printed Calendar

Our jury rated the photo reproduction in Mixbook's calendar just slightly behind Shutterfly's. The Mixbox's cover had good color and nice dynamic range, but the image was missing some highlights and nothing was really black. The inside pictures weren't as well-balanced and lively as we have come to expect from Mixbook; some had very good color, while others were somewhat dark.

They were certainly far better than what you get with Amazon Prints and Picaboo, but more uneven than Shutterfly's offerings. Still, type was nice and clean.

The matte-paper stock had a substantial weight and feel. However, the texture tended to dampen the dynamic range and sharpness of the pictures.

Price & Options

Our 11 x 8.5-inch Mixbook calendar cost $24.99, which was a bit more expensive than Apple's $19.99 for a 13 x 11-inch calendar, though the same price as for Shutterfly's 11 x 8-inch calendar. Mixbook didn't have anywhere near Shutterfly's variety of calendar sizes or styles. In fact, the only other Mixbook calendars were a 12 x 12-inch one for $29.99 and a 14 x 11-inch version for $34.99. Mixbook also had fewer options for the length of the calendar (12 months only) compared to Apple's offerings (12-24 months), but we could choose to have the calendar start on any month from January 2017 to January 2019.

MORE: Best Photo Calendar Printing Services

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

Bottom Line

If you want full, easy, fun control over customizing your calendar, with access to the most extensive tool set and great content, then choose Mixbook. However, if you plan to use photos that come from various sources or were taken in varied lighting conditions, Shutterfly will produce a better printed calendar. If you want a great price on a very good-quality book that isn't customized, choose Apple Photo. But Mixbook offers the greatest flexibility among the calendar services we tested, and the results were pretty good, too.

Specs

Import photos from: Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Google Photos, SmugMug, your device
Templates & layouts: Fully editable
Backgrounds: Large library of beautiful backgrounds, search not fully implemented
Clip art: Searchable library of very attractive clip art
Text: Fully customizable with great controls

Credit: Tom's Guide