Friday, February 11, 2011

viovio | photo book printing review

Back in January, I was contacted by a company called, Viovio, asking if I'd be interested in reviewing their photo book printing service. Can I get a "heck yeah"?! So they zipped me over a gift certificate and I dove right in. Here is how it went down.......

I headed over to Viovio and registered, which popped up a "start a new project" page. From here you can choose to use the Viovio Designer, PDF Publish Wizard or the Viovio Book machine.

I chose the Viovio Designer. Here you can choose from photo book options, as well as greeting cards or calendars. I chose the photo book and went for the 12x12 size (looks like you have quite a few sizing options, BONUS!). Next you choose the # of pages you want... I had NO idea, so I left it at the default of 24.... click ... *poof*

Now into the book designer interface I go. (woot! we're getting somewhere now!)

On the left side of the screen are all your empty pages. In the center is the current page you're working on. At the top is your basic tool bar, including buttons for uploading photos, adding templates, arranging pages, auto fill and prices/sizing.

I began uploading my images... a mixture of full resolution 12x12 layouts and full res. photos. I was pleasantly surprised how easily and quickly they uploaded! COOL FEATURE: you can add photos via flickr! (woot!)

I briefly checked out the template section, which are essentially Quick Pages, where you can just snap in your photos. Some are free, some you pay for. DOWNSIDE: there weren't many that were my style, but if they expand the options, it could be a handy feature. 

Instead of using one of those template formats, I just went with making one page a layout followed by a full page photo. I found it slightly difficult to figure out how to move pages around at first, but kept messing around with it. Once I figured it out, it was actually pretty easy to rearrange the pages. 

Then came the hardest part of the process..... designing the cover. I didn't see a lot of options, which was frustrating.  There was an option for a "full wrap cover", you just need to design it using their sizing specifications (listed in the left sidebar) and upload. I ended up just using one of the layouts from the book for the cover, then putting text on the back. I wasn't sure how it was going to come out because there wasn't a way to crop the image for the cover. But I pressed on....

Now you come to my favorite feature *insert some sort of magically majestic music here*....
the Book Layout Preview (well, that's what I'm calling it at least)!  I LOVE that you can view the final layout of the book in a preview screen, so you know exactly how it's going to look printed.... the problem.... you don't have this option until you're far into the process.. it would be nice to have this feature available while you're uploading and planning your book out.

Now, uberly excited, I buzzed through to shipping (you have a bunch of choices) and payment (I was SO sad to not see Paypal listed as a payment choice.. BOO!)

Then I sat and twiddled my thumbs waiting for my book to arrive...... okay actually I just kept checking my email to see if there was a shipping update! :D 

It took about a week for the book to ship, then a few days for shipping (I chose 2 day priority mail).

Then, the big day arrived! I opened my mailbox and there she was in all her glory (and VERY sturdy box) waiting for me. They didn't mess around w/ the shipping, there is NO WAY your book is getting damaged in transport friends... well unless you have a disgruntled Chuck Norris tossing around your box! A+ on packaging Viovio!

I pried that puppy open and you know what I saw????  




Whatever paper they use to print on is AMAZING, it almost has a glossy feel to it... even the hubs was impressed! (SHOCKING!)

The colors printed perfectly to what I see on my monitor and the clarity was unreal. A few of the photos that I cropped within the program, were a little grainy, but nothing I'd complain about.

Also, the book is stitch bound, not glued.

The only thing I saw as a potential issue was this....
See it? From the side, the pages look a bit warped. Not sure if this is typical w/ bound books or not... will it be an issue down the road... I don't know. 

Overall rating
interface: B
printing: A+

They could use a few tweaks to make the interface a bit more user friendly, but even with those quirks, the quality of the end product is fantastic, so I'd definitely use them again.

And guess what.... The kind folks at Viovio have hooked me up with a $25 gift card to giveaway!!!
To enter leave a SEPERATE comment for each thing you do....

1. leave a comment & tell me what you think of this review, helpful, useless?
2. tweet this giveaway (please include @Lauren_Reid)
3. share on Facebook
4. tell me who you'd give your album to

DEADLINE: Friday 02.18.11 - MIDNIGHT EST

note: I was compensated for the album, however my review and opinions are my own and  I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

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