Saturday, February 11, 2017 (review)

I started using this since January 2016 but I am procrastinating to write my opinions about this. I am just done settling the photos that arrived last week so now I am ready to write this. I came to know this when I saw discount codes at groupon. At first glance, the prices look crazy without the discount codes. However, after using it for the past 1 year, I think those prices are a gimmick because throughout the year, there are always discounts at the range of 65-80%. After buying, they will send the codes and usually the expiry is still many months ahead. That will give ample time to design the photobooks.

Photobooks can be created online or offline. I have never tried the online version so I can only comment on the offline method whereby I had to download their programme first. The size is huge other than photobooks, there are so many other products. We are allowed to choose which ones to be downloaded. The application is very user friendly and idiot-proof. Perhaps the only issue I have is the names of the products in the application may not exactly the same as the names in the website.

The application allows a limitless personalisation. I can make everything from scratch or I can use existing templates. Even when templates are chosen, I can still play around and edit the templates. There are a lot backgrounds, scrapbook elements, borders, and special effects too play around. However, considering they have a 40 and 80-page photobooks, the amount of variety is still not enough.

There are 2 problems with the designer which are not up to my expectations. First is about sizing which uses proportion for cropping. So let's say the original size of the photo is 12 x 16 pixels (just for ease of description) or 3:4 ratio but the size of photo field is 8 x 10 pixels or 4:5, the max area of the photo that I can put is only 8 x 10 pixels and there is no way I can fit the whole photo. If I want to have the photo fully in, I have to have resize the field with a 3:4 ratio which I find so tedious. I am expecting that the photos will be 'squeezed'to whatever shape and size of the photo fields that I choose and then I will be given the opportunity to crop if I want. Sadly, there is no get around for this proportion thing when it comes to resizing the scrapbook items. Second is the border. When border effect is added, the border is not added outside the photo field but it is put inside the photo field i.e the border will cover the photo. That really limits the usefulness of the borders.

Moving on the products now. I have ordered photobooks, photo prints, and insta cards (I got the insta cards free when I bought the photo prints). I am very pleased with the large landscape photobooks: the paper quality is acceptable and the print quality is as of what I see in my computer. I got the 80-page and 2 of the 40-page photobooks much earlier (at separate 3 ocassions) than the free 6" x 6" photobook which was given for free as 2016 New Year's gift. There was no problem with them but I lose faith in their quality control after the 6" x 6" photobook.

In the application, each page has an outer blue and an inner red border. They state that the pages may be cut until the red border but all the bigger photobooks that I ordered earlier were printed until the blue border. Sadly, it is not only a warning since the small photobook was printed until the red border! Obviously all of my pictures at the edges were cut and everything seemed to be off-center. They say that the pages may be cut until the red border. The problem is the gap between the blue and red border can be up to 3mm. It sounds like a small matter but when you have a photo, being cut off 3mm is a BIG DEAL! If I put everything within the red border and the product is printed until the blue border, the end product will have a 3mm blank around the edges. But if I put everything until the blue border and the product is printed until the red border, the end product will be cut off 3mm around the edges. I find it unreliable and unacceptable since ultimately the book can be printed with that much variation at the edges.

I would recommend avoiding the photo prints and insta cards as the paper quality sucks. It is not a photo paper quality. For the insta cards, the website mentions 270 gsm paper. So fair enough that the end product is not a card material, despite naming the product with the word cards, since they already state 270 gsm paper. For photo prints, however, the website only mentions glossy or matte photo paper (nothing about the gsm whatsoever) so obviously I am expecting it to be the usual photo paper. It turns out to be of a similar quality to the insta cards so I suppose it is also 270 gsm paper. It is thin and even when I leave them in my drawer for few days, the corners start to 'bend' upwards.No issue with print quality as I got what I saw on my computer screen.

Moving on to packaging and shipping now. Packaging is poor, terribly poor. They put the photos or books inside their blue carton envelope and that's it! There is no padding whatsover which obviously results in all the corners crumpled at arrival. When discount codes are used, they do not allow combined shipping which is a waste of customers' money when we want to buy multiple products at the same time. It is not convenient too like for example when my last purchase was 3x 500pcs photo prints and the bonus instacards, I had to pay 4x $10 for shipping and I received 4 DHL tracking numbers. Thank goodness DHL noticed all 4 items have the same address and they were delivered as a bundle. I would be so irritated if I had to wait for 4 different couriers.

Customer service is a hit or miss. Their email customer service sucks but their facebook customer service is very responsive. When I complained about my small photobook, they allowed me to reprint it if I shifted all my items to be within the red lines. They would give 80% off but I still had to pay for shipping. Sounds good, doesn't it? Nope.. to edit 1 photobook will cost me at least 1-2 weeks and that is a waste of time. 80% off sounds cheap but it is the shipping that costs a bomb. So basically, it is still a bad service recovery.

After all these, I am going to find another online photo book service provider the next time I am going to print my holiday pictures. I have not had any holiday yet so I have yet to search. Having said that, I may still consider photobookworldwide for their other gift products. Anything except for the photobooks and the photo prints. Lol.

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