Printique is still the top dog when it comes to photo book and photo calendar print quality. While some of the competition has caught up in other ways, the gorgeous covers and thick pages offered with Printique’s products remains unmatched. Another plus is that even its default photo book offering is a lay-flat design that lets you see every square millimeter of its luxurious pages. However, that also makes them more expensive.
While Printique’s comparatively flimsy calendars are not as impressive as its books, they too offer premium image quality. Designing a basic calendar though is a challenge because of Printique’s slow and confusing software. Also, cards are just average with weak color, contrast and text quality. Read the rest of our Printique review to see if this superior photo printing service is worth the hassle and the price, or if you should go with another option on our list of the best photo books.
Printique review: Prices
Printique photo books
Printique’s least expensive hardcover option is a 20-page 8 x 8-inch hardcover layflat book, which costs $54.99. There’s a variety of other options including hardcover layflat books ranging from 6 x 6 inches ($38.99) to 12 x 12 inches ($86.99). Softcover books are offered in 4 x 4-inches (starting at $14.99) and 8 x 8-inches ($29.99). Other styles include fabric cover books (from $48.99) and leather covered books ("vegan" and "genuine") from $83.99.
A 12-month 10 x 10-inch centerfold calendar starts at $25.99, while an 18-month 10 x 10-inch calendar goes for $40.99. (6 x 6 and 8 x 8 sizes are also available.) Top-hanging 12 x 18-inch calendars start at $34.99 for 12 months, and small desktop calendars start at $15.99 (for 3.74 x 8.27 inches).
Printique photo cards
The 5 x 7 and 7 x 5 cards start at $1.75 each for 12 or more; single cards are a hefty $4.99. Printique doesn't offer metal foil text, but some card types offer rounded corners or other edge patterns for an additional fee. There are no other sizes of flat cards and no folded-card options.
Printique review: Software
Printique’s software offers the most control of the services we tested but we feel it’s better suited to the advanced user than newbies. We also think it needs a refresh; it’s getting a little long in the tooth and the competition has caught up with user-friendly yet powerful editing tools. But if you already know your way around design software, Printique’s precision and customization might be appealing.
There are 86 templates for photo books, which you can narrow down by category or a search function. On the other hand, there are only 11 templates for calendars. Cards come in a whopping 300 types for more than two dozen occasion categories, including wedding, baby shower, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Diwali, Valentine's Day, Mother's and Father's Day, and a range of Jewish holidays (but no Muslim events, such as Eid).
Seasoned designers will appreciate the variety of rulers, gridlines, submenus, and toolbars offered in Printique’s feature-rich online software, but beginners might be intimidated. Printique doesn't provide a full tutorial to walk you through all these features, as less-complex services do, though there are how-to videos on some of the individual design features. Another issue we experienced were laggy load times for the software, particularly if our Internet signal was not strong. In our case, it took a few minutes for image thumbnails to show up after importing our photos. (We were, however, experiencing some Wi-Fi issues during testing.)
But once you get the hang of everything Printique has to offer, you can do some great things with its tools. For instance, a floating toolbar that appears when you click on a photo provides easy access to many key configuration options: panning and zooming, fitting or filling pages and spreads, and setting image opacity, among others.
The level of customization in Prinique is kind of incredible. You can set the exact size and dimension of images, down to hundredths of an inch. Borders are also fully adjustable. Along with being able to set the color and width, you can set the border to either extend out from the photo or crop into it. The same adjustability goes for the width of drop shadows as well. All these style settings can be copied and pasted from one photo to another.
Text customization is also deep. Printique’s array of font options is grouped under detailed categories such as Serif, Sans Serif, Handwritten, Fancy, and even Hebrew-inspired. Font sizes can be tweaked in one-point increments, in fully customizable colors, with adjustable opacity. You can also configure the thickness and color of drop shadows on text, but you cannot create borders around the lettering. Finally, you can adjust the tracking (space between letters) and leading (space between lines) of text. But pay close attention to what you type, since there's no spell check — something that every other service we've tested does have.
Background design options also abound in Printique. There are 783 backgrounds in total, and they are less cutesy, and more artful than with other services. (For instance, the "Birthday" category has no hat, cake, or balloons, but rather starbursts, polka dots, and colorful brushed-metal patterns.) Where Printique stumbles is with solid colors. It offers virtually no color presets, and instead forces you to use an awkward color-picking tool that requires configuring a hue with sliders, setting the red-green-blue intensity levels, or entering a hex code. Design pros might not have a problem but pretty much everyone else will be baffled.
Printique's frames were kind of disappointing. Instead of classic frames that mimic what you might see hanging on a wall of a museum or someone’s apartment, you can pick from a very small assortment of basic frilly patterns or faux corner mounts. But most frames are actually cutouts that crop the photo into a vast selection of shapes, such as hearts, stars, or letters (if that’s your thing.) Printique offers a vast array of stickers (14,951) ranging from monochrome cutouts to childlike drawings, detailed drawings, letters, slogans, and calendar grids.
Despite its rich range of customization, Printique offers no photo-editing options or even photo filters. This is odd given the level of user it’s aimed at. You can, however, opt to have your photos auto color-corrected when you order a printing.
The design interface for calendars has many of the same tools as for books but we found it more challenging to use, particularly if you use the “Build your own” template. Placing photos into the calendar in this “blank slate” style was a challenge for us, with the images often overlapping with the grid of the calendar. After playing with it for about half an hour, we grew frustrated and decided instead to try one of Printique’s calendar templates, the Modern style. The result was a gorgeous, professional-looking calendar filled with our photos from a recent trip to Italy. But it wasn’t what we initially wanted, and we were disappointed we had trouble building our own calendar, which wasn’t an issue with the other services.
There are many levels of customization, even in the pre-set calendar templates. As with books, you have access to a variety of texts, backdrops, frames, and stickers. Text, backdrops, and stickers can be added to the grid pages, as well. You can also fully customize the calendar's fonts (individually by month, week, day, and event designation), change the grid's opacity and add drop shadows of any color. You can add a photo to any date square by dragging, dropping, and cropping. But you can only change the text for a particular day by going into the universal settings and choosing options for all event days. We just wish it was all a little easier to do.
There are a variety of card templates, including a “Build Your Own” option that was easier to use than the calendar version, but they are organized a bit strangely. Assuming that the most popular design would be “holiday” cards, we found it odd that these were at the bottom of the Photo Greeting Cards page. And while there were many template options for the Christmas card we created, most of the designs were a little ornate and, to our taste, intrusive on the photo. We wanted more options to make the image larger on the cards to showcase people and families, which is what most of these types of cards will feature.
Printique review: Print quality
Printique photo books
The most distinctive thing about Printique’s books vs the competition is their very thick, rigid pages. These almost vinyl-like pages are similar to the look and feel of what you’d find in a professional wedding photo album. They’re designed to last — it’s hard to imagine them even creasing or tearing — and they feel luxurious. Similarly, even the entry-level books come with a layflat binding that prevents a furrow in the seam between pages, making this design perfect for images that span spreads. Again, this is a professional level book offering but it comes at a premium price compared to Printique’s rivals. While gorgeous, we wish there were some lower-end book options since not all customers will demand this type of high-end product.
On the other hand, we appreciated Printique’s devotion to exceptional photo printing. The pages display really well with excellent color, skin tone, contrast and sharpness/detail. We rated Printique slightly above Mixbook for photo quality. But while we liked the semi-gloss finish of the pages, which is called Luster, they are prone to glare, especially in bright light. This requires you to angle the book slightly to make out the detail in the images. The company offers three other finish options for its 8 x 8 books — Glossy, Linen, and Pebble. Its Deep Matte finish is available only for books of 10 x 10 inches or larger, and it adds $36 to the price.
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Despite the glare, images are excellent. The color is rich but, at times, appeared slightly oversaturated, particularly with skin tones, which were heavy on the orange and red tones. Landscapes and cityscapes, on the other hand, looked beautiful with the color popping off the page. We also liked the results of a few black-and-white photos we included in our book, which looked dramatic without losing detail.
The image quality of Printique’s calendars was, not surprisingly, on a par with its photo books. What was something of a surprise, however, was the pricing. We paid $34.99 for a 12 x 18-inch, wall hanging calendar, which was less expensive than some of the smaller calendars we ordered from the other companies. For instance, Shutterfly’s calendar costs the same price for a small 8 x 11-inch calendar, and $44.99 for a 12 x 12-inch calendar. Even better, the aforementioned Modern template we chose made our calendar look classy, with the images deliberately bleeding into the grid for a stylish effect.
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Given the outstanding print quality of the calendar, we were a little surprised with how thin the pages were, particularly the flimsy front cover. While we’re looking forward to displaying the calendar in 2024, hopefully the pages – which were the thinnest of all the calendars — survive being flipped throughout the year.
We actually thought the photo quality of our calendar was even better than the photo book. This was perhaps because the surface of the Canon HD Luster paper used for the calendar was less reflective than the coated panel of the book which, ultimately, averts oversaturation. Also, hanging on a wall, the calendar is less likely to catch glare than in a book lying flat on a table. Despite the glossy finish of the calendar-grid pages, ink and marker writing did not smudge.
Printique photo cards
Another surprise with Printique given its fabulous books and attractive calendars is how middling its photo cards were. The family on the front of our holiday card lacked sharpness and displayed a slight yellow cast on the edges of their faces. The card stock also felt flimsy, and the text was somewhat hard to read.
Overall, the card looked like something that might have been produced at home on an inkjet printer. Some of the blame might be on Printique’s default Linen finish, which affected photo sharpness and color saturation. It also made it less legible than we would have liked. Printique also offers Matte and Felt finish options for the same price, though they are unlikely to add any more pop to images.
Printique review: Verdict
Either Printique has slipped a bit, or the competition has caught up, but it is no longer our favorite photo book service, being edged out by Mixbook. Yes, Printique remains on top for image quality for both its photo books and calendars. And yes, the default thick pages and layflat bindings of its books make them look and feel like professional art pieces.
Where Printique has fallen behind though is in its confusing and sometimes unforgiving software which can make their products a chore to create. We also wish they had some less expensive options for their photo books. Putting those quibbles aside, Printique is the one we would recommend for more advanced users and even some professional photographers. The overall print quality is just that good.