Online Digital Print Services Buyer's Guide - InformationWeek

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Online Digital Print Services Buyer's Guide

We uploaded digital files and had photos printed by Kodak Gallery, RitzPix, Shutterfly, and It wasn't always pretty, but one online vendor clearly earned our top marks.

Now that digital cameras have made film obsolete for the average consumer, more people are using online digital print services that let you edit pictures and get them ready for printing, and also make it easy to get the high-quality prints you've come to expect only from professionals.

Four of these services -- Kodak Gallery, RitzPix, Shutterfly, and Wal-Mart Digital Photo Center -- offer a slew of options that not only give you professionally printed photos, but also let you create picture books, frames, and a host of other keepsakes for relatively affordable prices.

To compare these services, I ordered six to 10 prints of the same 4x6-inch pictures from each. I evaluated how well the user interface allowed me to order the prints, and compared each print based on cost and overall quality.

And, while each of these services offers a fine choice if you're looking to have prints developed, none are equal and some stand above the rest.

Kodak Gallery

Making an album on Kodak Gallery is quick and easy -- more than can be said for other services.
(click for image gallery)

I found that Kodak Gallery offers an all-around stellar service. The company doesn't try to trap you into buying picture books and it doesn't even ask you to add frames to the order, both of which it offers. Instead, it makes buying prints not only easy, but extremely affordable: when I bought mine, the site slashed its prices and offered 4x6-inch prints for just $0.15 and 8x10-inch prints for $2.99.

Upon surfing over to the site, you're greeted with a link asking you to buy prints. Upon clicking it, you're given the option of ordering prints as a guest or as a subscriber to the site, which requires an e-mail address and password. From there, the process is quick and easy.

In a matter of minutes, I was able to create an online album of pictures, choose which shots I wanted to have printed, crop the pictures as needed, and place my order. And with the option to have the prints rush delivered, sent via standard delivery, or picked up at a local retailer, I was given more than enough options to make use of the service worthwhile.

Once the prints arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality. Not only were the pictures re-created extremely well, but the level of detail each offered was near the top of the pack. And although I did notice a few ink issues towards the top right-hand corner of one print, it was a minor issue, easily covered with a frame.

For such a cheap price and comparably high quality, Kodak Gallery easily shines and stands towards the front of the pack.

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