Handling/Ease of Use
Value For Money
I wanted a calendar to give for a Christmas present, I wanted it to be good quality, something that had variable layouts to choose from, good photo editing facilities and overall good appearance. So I tried out The Photo Book Store, to see what they could offer.
The Photo Book Store Calendar Features
I chose an A4 portrait calendar so I could use different backgrounds and I wasn't sure of my picture quality, so opted for a smaller size. There are 6 options available, A3 portrait or landscape, A4 portrait or landscape, 300x300mm and a 210x100mm desk calendar. Each calendar has the same specification description which is, free backgrounds, special effects, layouts and clip art graphics. Wire bound in white with a hanging loop, printed on 250gm gloss photo paper.
The Photo Book Store Calendar Handling / Ease of Use
Firstly, as someone who isn't particularly familiar with the world of personalised photography gifts, it wasn't obvious in the calendar category that you would have to download the software first. After choosing which calendar I wanted I clicked on the continue button which then lead me to the description. I was happy with that so clicked on the order now button, this then lead me to a page to fill out the details of my calendar such as, when and what year to start the calendar from. At this point I only had up to the year 2010 to opt for.
I had to back track to the main page to then install the free software and start again. The download was 1.71KB. This took 4 minutes and then followed through the setup wizard. On opening the software I then had to run an update scan and install updates for their software. This is not just a one off occurrence, if you decide you want to save your item and return later, you will have have to run an updater every time you load up the software, this is particularly annoying.
Using the software took a bit of time to get used to, but was quite straight forward when I'd gone through all the various options. Although I found the layout of the software quite cluttered, there were many options to choose from. I could customise the backgrounds, the framing of the photograph, I could add clip art images, change the overall layout and could also override the template by dragging items around, and this could change for each month. The only thing I was a little disappointed with was the actual calendar day boxes. I could chose slightly different variations of the area however, the boxes for each day weren't big enough to write much into it, which I think defeats the whole point of a calendar. The day numbers occupied most of the space in the box so I had to stretch out the area in order to maximise the space which is hard to keep consistent for each month.
I could do a little photo editing but the features were basic, auto correction (which didn't look much different), red eye, contrast and brightness. All of which were editable on a sliding scale. Uploading your photographs was easy, as it allowed you to scroll through your folders, view each picture and click on the photo you wanted or click their add photo button. I could preview the calendar before ordering which was useful and was available to preview in 2D or 3D. I opted for 3D which took some time loading up and the end result wasn't great. You view your calendar as if it was on a wall in a house and produces a mini movie to flick through the pages, however it wasn't smooth snd kept stopping and starting so I switched to 2D which was perfectly fine.
The calendar took a total of 3 hours to make, going through the downloading procedure and changing all the variable details. I was working on a netbook computer which only has a small screen and I think having a bigger monitor would have greatly speeded up the process as there were so many applications and options that I had to keep scrolling through.
The Photo Book Store Calendar Performance
The website suggests that the product will take 7 days from order to delivery but I was pleasantly surprised to see it arrive 3 days later. The calendar was delivered in a cardboard enveloped packet and had to be signed for. The colour quality of the prints was extremely good and the effects used came out just how I previewed them. The image quality was a little softer than I would have liked but that was down to my photos rather than the print.
The Photo Book Store Calendar Value for Money
When I selected my calendar, I thought it was great value for money coming in at £13.79. The biggest A3 prints are priced at £14.79 and the smallest at £9.79. Compared to many other personalised photo websites this was a decent price. However, when I placed my order at the checkout it charged £9.99 post and packaging totalling at £23.78. This I thought was rather expensive.
The Photo Book Store Calendar Verdict
The Photo Book Store downloadable software is a little bit clumsy for my liking, and although there are many variations to choose from, I felt the calendar's date templates was not big enough for practical use. Overall, the Photo Book Store produced a good quality product, with great colours and prints on quality gloss paper. I'm fairly pleased with the outcome.
The Photo Book Store Calendar Pros
Lots of customisable affects
The Photo Book Store Calendar Cons
Post and packaging charges at nearly the same price as the product
Calendar space for dates impracticable
|VALUE FOR MONEY
Available from thephotobookstore