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Picaboo Photo Book Review: Great Software, Meh Print Job

Picaboo's photo-book software was creative, fun and flexible, but the printed book wasn't of the same quality.

Our Verdict

Picaboo's photo-book software was creative, fun and flexible, but the printed book wasn't of the same quality.

For

  • Great software
  • Attractive library of fully editable templates
  • Large, searchable library of beautiful backgrounds and clip art

Against

  • So-so photo book
  • No drop shadow for text

Picaboo's photo-book software is one of our favorites. It's fun, flexible and easy to use, and it has searchable, attractive content and great tools for designing a highly customized book. However, when it comes to the best photo books, the resulting product didn't rise to the level of Shutterfly's or AdoramaPix's books.

Creating Your Book: Great content, fun, flexible

Picaboo's templates are attractive and fully editable. The large libraries of beautiful backgrounds and nice clip art are conveniently searchable, making it easy to find the right graphics for your book. But only the backgrounds library had a holding area for items I used in the project or favorited; the clip art didn't.

The varied and appealing layouts include photo and text arrangements for single pages and two-page spreads. I easily moved, deleted, resized, reshaped and rotated photo and text placeholders. 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 or if you want to make it the background for the page or for the two-page spread. When I resized a photo across a page spread, a pop-up gave me the welcome choice of having it span the two pages or cropping it at the edge of the original page.

The convenient photo-editing tab has easy-to-use controls for exposure, saturation, border color and size, along with other tools. Like AdoramaPix, Mixbook and Costco, Picaboo has cutouts for turning photos into shapes, such as hearts and stars. However, Costco's shapes are far more numerous and varied. 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 via a convenient check mark. Picaboo also has a large selection of cute corner effects.

The text tool is compact while being full-featured, and it worked directly on the page, making it easy to see how our text choices would affect the look of our composition. Unfortunately, it had no drop shadow for text.

The Printed Book: Merely OK photos, cheap binding

In our printed Picaboo book, most photos had nice saturation, clarity, vividness and color, and focus was generally OK, with no oversharpening. However, only a handful of our pictures had decent dynamic range; the others were flat. Shadows tended to be subdued, with significant loss of deep-shadow details. The type had rough edges, and the letters weren't solidly filled in.

The physical book was of better quality than those from Snapfish, Costco and Amazon Print, but it still wasn't great. On the cover, the binding was uneven. Inside the book, the endsheets were a standard white paper, and the stitching was exposed.

Price and Options

Our 20-page Picaboo 8 x 8-inch hardbound book cost $34.99. Picaboo offered a number of other styles and sizes, such as a 5 x 5-inch softcover for $19.99, an 11 x 9-inch hardbound for $49.99 and a 12 x 12-inch hardbound for $59.99. Lay-flat books started at $64.99. Other options included a variety of premium books. One of Picaboo's frequent coupon offers could reduce your cost.

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

Bottom Line

Picaboo's flexible and fun software might tempt you to create your photo book using this service. However, we were disappointed in its photo reproduction and the quality of the book itself. Shutterfly's book was of higher quality and a little less expensive ($29.99), though its software wasn't as fun or easy to use as Picaboo's. AdoramaPix's great software produces a far superior book but for a higher price ($41.99). Picaboo is worth a look, but there are better options.

Specs

Import photos from
Facebook, Google Drive, Dropbox or your device, or you can create a QR code to open any website on your mobile device.
Templates & layouts
Fully editable
Backgounds
Beautiful library with an excellent search engine
Clip art
Large, attractive library with a good search engine
Text
Fully customizable

Credit: Tom's Guide