Picaboo Photo Book Review: Great Software, Not So Great Print Job

When it came to creating our photo book using Picaboo, we found its software was almost on a par with Mixbook (our favorite service) for being fun to work with and flexible. It was easy to use, had searchable, attractive content and great tools for designing a highly customized book. However, the resulting book didn't deliver on the promise of Picaboo's great software.

Specs

Templates & layouts: Templates are fully editable; layouts are varied but unnecessary because you can drag and drop elements anywhere onto your postcard
Backgrounds: Beautiful library with an excellent search engine
Clip art: Large, attractive library with an excellent search engine

Text: Fully customizable

MORE: Best Services for Creating and Printing Photo Books

Creating Your Book: Great content, fun, flexible

Picaboo's templates are attractive and fully editable. And the large libraries of beautiful backgrounds and nice clip art are conveniently searchable, making it easy to find the right graphics for our book.

The layouts are varied and appealing, with photo and text placeholders that we could easily delete, resize, reshape and rotate. To add photos and clip art, you simply drag and drop them. However, adding a photo to a page is a two-step process. First, a window pops up asking if you want to add the photo to the page, and make it the page background or a two-page spread background. We should have been able to bypass this with preference options. On the other hand, when we resized a photo across a page spread, we had the nice option to have it span the two pages.   

The convenient photo-editing tab has nice controls for exposure, saturation, border color and size, and other tools. Picaboo is the only photo book service we tested other than Mixbook and Costco that has cutouts for turning your photos into shapes, such as hearts and stars. While the photo drop shadow is only an on/off effect, with no options regarding size, opacity or spread, you can add the drop shadow to all photos in the book. Picaboo photo book has no drop shadow for text, and you can’t apply a border setting to all the photos beyond a single page.

We were surprised that Picaboo didn't have easy navigation to specific pages in the main workspace. Though it does have a Page Manager view, it doesn’t include the cover, which limited the ability to move easily to all parts of the book.

The Printed Book

In our printed Picaboo book, some photos had nice color and focus tended to be okay, but only a handful of our pictures had decent dynamic range. Many had an unpleasant, severe blue shift with dark, blocky shadows and loss of highlight details.

The cover picture had no true black, and it suppressed midtones and had limited highlights.

The physical book was better-quality than those from Snapfish and Amazon Print, but still not great. The endsheets were a standard white paper, the stitching was visible and the binding was already breaking.

MORE: Best Photo Storage and Sharing Sites

Price and Options

The costs of Picaboo's photo books are on a par with Mixbook. Our 20-page Picabook 8 x 8-inch hardbound book costs $34.99. Other sizes include 5 x 5 inches for $19.99, an 11 x 9-inch version for $49.99, and a 12 x 12-inch size for $59.99. Books that lay flat start at $64.99. Other options include a variety of premium books. Frequent coupon offers can reduce your cost.

Picaboo's other photo products include calendars, cards, phone and tablet cases, photo panels, school yearbooks, prints and posters.

Bottom Line

Picaboo's flexible and fun software might make it tempting to create your photo book using its service. However, we were disappointed in its inconsistent photo reproduction. For an even better software experience and a great photo book, choose Mixbook. For a quick-to-make but noncustomizable photo book that is physically gorgeous, choose Apple Photo.

Credit: Tom's Guide

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