Nations photo lab review

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Editor's choice

The good

  • Versatile, flexible, creative software
  • Beautiful physical book
  • Easy to use
  • Generous libraries of great backgrounds, templates, layouts and clip art

The bad

  • No drop shadow for text or clip art
  • Text blocks can be difficult to move initially

Verdict

Mixbook's photo books may be a bit pricey, but you'll end up with a fun-to-make, creative, beautiful keepsake or gift.

For the third year in a row, Mixbook is our Editors' Choice pick for photo books, because its software and the resulting book are the best by far among those we tested. Mixbook's software makes it easy to create a beautifully designed book that reflects your personal creativity, while the physical book has great photos, very nice paper and a feeling of quality in your hands.

Specs

Import photos from: Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Google Photos, Smugmug, your device
Templates & layouts: Fully editable
Backgrounds: Searchable library of beautiful backgrounds
Clip art: Searchable library of very attractive clip art
Text: Fully customizable

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Creating Your Book: Fun and versatile

Mixbook's photo book software is both easy to use and highly flexible. However, it's missing some of the tools available in Mixbook's other projects, such as photo calendars and postcards.

The generous libraries of beautiful templates and backgrounds and attractive clip art are conveniently searchable. Any backgrounds or clip art placed in your book are kept in a handy project well for easy reuse. For a nice personal touch, you can upload your 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. When placing photos, we didn't need placeholders; we just dragged and dropped the photo and clip art onto the page. To replace a photo already on the page, you drag and drop another on top of it. Frustratingly, when we added a text block, it automatically went into the center of the page, and it was often difficult to choose and move it when it was on top of a photo.

Mixbook's photo book editing options provide great control over photo shape cutouts, borders, drop shadows, exposure and color, and a handful of effects. However, it doesn't have the deep, rich creative control of the floating effects palette that it offers for postcards and calendars. Nor does it have the drop shadows for text or clip art that we've come to expect from Mixbook.

MORE: Best Photo Calendar Printing Services

The Printed Book: Beautiful and unique

Our Mixbook photo book was simply beautiful, outshining the other services we tested. We took into account the quality of the physical book, the photo reproduction and the personalization enabled by the software.

Among the services we tested, our jury nations photo lab review gave Mixbook top marks for photo quality. The cover picture was bright, with great color, excellent dynamic range and a nice level of sharpness. All of the interior pictures, including those that gave other printing services trouble, had a lively dynamic range, good skin tones and great exposure.

The Mixbook book had a nice quality feel. The high-quality binding had white end papers that were a nice weight, though not textured like Shutterfly's. The interior pages had a nice substantial thickness and a pleasant smoothness. In this area, our jury preferred the feel of Apple's photo book, but just barely.

Price and Options

Mixbook's photo books are not bargains. Our 20-page 8.5 x 8.5-inch Mixbook hardbound book costs.29. (By comparison, Apple Photo's 8 x 8-inch book costs.99.) A 10 x 10-inch book from Mixbook costs.49, and a 12 x 12-inch book is.98. You can order a pearl finish on the cover for an additional.50, or a lay-flat book with a matte finish for an additional. If you're not in a hurry, wait for Mixbook's frequent coupons and sales.

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


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Bottom Line

Choose Mixbook over any other photo book service if you want a great-looking book with good photo reproduction that reflects your personal creativity and is fun to create.  If you don't want to spend much time customizing the design or are looking to save some money, Apple Photos will give you a superb-looking book. But for the best personalization options and quality, go with Mixbook.

Credit: Tom's Guide

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