Results tagged “printing” from kwc blog

One of everything

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Something I should disclose is that since my last Qoop post, I have become a beta tester for Qoop. Before I only had photo cards and some photo books; now have one of every current Qoop product: photo book, travel mug, two mini books, a poster, two calendars, a t-shirt, and photo cards. Free stuff is nice and all, but I agreed to become a beta tester because I genuinely want Qoop to do well, as Qoop's success contributes to Flickr's success.

But now, of course, how do I maintain an authentic voice on this topic? If I really like something and mention it, am I a shill? If I don't like something, is it fair to mention it, given that my role here is to help improve Qoop's product?

I don't know how I'm going to blog about this in the future, but first, this disclaimer post. Next will be giving my feedback to the Qoop folks. After that, some of you may be receiving some of this boon, as it's fairly difficult to quickly construct one of everything on Qoop's site just for myself, and I wanted to gauge other peoples' reactions to these customized 'gifts'.

Battle of the Photo Cards: Moo vs. Qoop

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I was going to do a detailed rundown of the Moo and Qoop photo card services that recently debuted for Flickr users, but as I started to write this up, I realized that it wasn't really necessary to compare these services feature by feature. It's much simpler to show you visually that Moo is far, far superior.

When I received my Qoop myCards order, I began to get worried when I opened the box and noticed that the top card was 'scuffed.' At first I thought that this was just a shipping issue, but then I decided to do a simple test: I placed the card facedown on paper and moved it around while applying moderate pressure:

Qoop Card Sample

Imagine giving out one of these cards to someone. Imagine all that ink rubbing off in their wallet.

I also tried this with Quiznos and Supercuts cards I had in my wallet. They looked a little more 'polished', but otherwise fine.

A couple of weeks later I received my free Moo sampler of ten MiniCards. Visually, they looked better than I hoped and the card felt great to hold: these met all expectations of a 'photo card'. Moo's printing process revealed some compression artifacts in my Flickr user icon that I need to fix and the midtone details were a touch darker than I expected -- I think they might have boosted contrast -- but they were beautiful. I was sad that I had to subject one of the ten cards to the same damaging test as the Qoop card:

Moo Card Sample

Can you tell which of the ten cards above I subjected to the test? (hint: middle left)

Moo cards are awesome; about their own downside is that they are weird. They are 'mini cards', as you can tell from the scan above, which means that their dimensions probably do not match any photo in your Flickr library. It will take some experimentation to figure out which of your photos still look good at half height and you might even have to tweak them in a photo editor to get it right. I think I understand Moo's motivation for these odd dimensions: they make the cards more distinct and they also help the layout for the back of the cards -- your Flickr user icon and contact details fill up the back nicely, without the significant whitespace of a full height card. So, this downside has an upside, but it is definitely something to consider.

I'm still bothered by Qoop's squandered potential, especially given how proactive their customer service is and how much I enjoy the online experience with their tools. They have many more layout options than Moo: you can place multiple photos on the front side of the card, you can place a photo on the back side, and you have more options for placing text. There are some things they could improve in the online experience: it irked me that once I 'finished' a card I couldn't go back and tweak it, and if you order two different customized cards you can't tell them apart in the shopping cart. But, overall, I was very happy... until I received the cards. I really wanted to give Qoop a good review this time around. I gave them lukewarm approval for their photo books (cheap price, cheap quality, great customer service), and I honestly thought that might have straightened things out by now. Now I have $15-worth of cards that I can't give out, but at least the Moo cards were free and I'll be dreaming up options for ordering more.

lenticular_stamp1.gifThe Netherlands is releasing plastic 'video stamps.' The is the same technology that you've probably seen in the past with pieces of plastic you tilt back and forth, but it appears that it is done much better. More info at Gizmodo. I can't wait for the day that this becomes a consumer-available product and I can print off videos of my nephew for my parents to stick on their fridge.

Review: Qoop Printing for Flickr

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qoopI previously reviewed Qoop's printing service for Flickr then took down the review because a Qoop representative offered to let us reprint the books for free to see if their newer printers would solve the issues I cited in the review. My main complaint then was that the print quality looked more like something printed off on an office printer than what I had seen with Apple's iPhoto books. The inks didn't have the right reflectivity (the blacks stood out) and the paper wasn't thick enough.

The verdict on the new books: We both felt that they were much improved, both in the inks that were used as well as the paper. With the new books I felt that I was holding a book, not something I printed off at work and stapled together. The printing quality does fall short of providing you with vivid, accurate color reproduction of your photos -- the color dynamics are a bit dull and the levels don't match what you see on the screen. There was also one other problem: two of the books had bent corners that was fixable with a bit of massaging. I would suggest to QOOP that they upgrading their packaging.

d and I don't quite agree on the overall assessment. I was expecting something more akin to a catalog of photos, d was expecting something more to vivid, photo-paper quality. Based on my expectations, I give the Qoop books a passing grade. It's not a book of photos you might buy in the store, but it's an easy way to get your photos into book format and save time in the process. d has a more mixed review, feeling that they aren't up to the printing quality of what you would get with the iPhoto books from Apple. We both agree that you get what you pay for and what you pay is cheap.

  • Do use if for: a hardcopy of your photos that you can carry around with you and scribble on
  • Don't use if for: giving as a gift to your friend (e.g. a book of wedding photos)

I've updated parts of my previous review. Read on for a full review.

Review: Qoop printing for Flickr

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update 2: here is the updated review

update: I'm temporarily taking down my review for Qoop because a representative from Qoop was kind enough (within 24 hours of me writing my post!) to offer reprints on the books. My original review came with the caveat that the books were ordered awhile ago when the service was still new, so it seems fair to give the service another shot.

Custom decals

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I'm singing the praises of inkjet decal paper now. I picked up some sheets over at San Antonio Hobby Shop after I saw some in their display window and I'm now salivating with the possibilities. The combination of decals and inkjet satisfies that instant gratification need: see, print, attach. I feel much like I did when I first got my photo printer and gleefully went through stacks of photo paper, or when I was a little kid and I got one of those old dymo label makers.

For those who are interested, for less than $15 you can get:

  • inkjet decal paper (3 sheets)
  • decal bonding spray
  • clear coat

Those of you who built models as a kid should be familiar with the process. For those of you who aren't, you print the image out on the decal paper and give it a good coating of bonding spray. The bonding spray will make sure that the ink doesn't run. When it's dry you cut out the decal, soak it in water so that it comes loose from the backing. Lightly wet the surface that you're transferring to and slide the decal into position. Blot the loose water from decal and let it dry. Later on, give it two or three coats of clear coat to make it permanent.