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.
Upon comparing the prints I received from Shutterfly to the others, I found that they weren't nearly as nice as the Kodak Gallery prints, but still stood above RitzPix in terms of quality and re-creation of the image. That said, I did notice that some of the more detailed areas of the print had a strange blue hue and failed to offer a stark contrast between the many colors in the print.

All in all, Shutterfly's service is great if you're looking to do more than order prints. But if you're looking for the easiest offering with the least amount of frills, Shutterfly is not for you. And although I wasn't necessarily blown away by its printing, it was adequate enough to justify using the service.

Wal-Mart Digital Photo Center

Wal-Mart's Digital Photo Center offers the very best of the other services. It not only allows you to do more with your pictures, but also to upload photos quickly and order prints easily.

Once again, the Wal-Mart Digital Photo Center requires you to sign up before you can start using the service. And although it's quite annoying to do so, it didn't take long and in a matter of seconds, I was into the uploading section, getting ready to add images to the service.

With low prices and high-quality prints, Wal-Mart easily stands above the crowd.
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Upon doing so, the easy interface quickly showed me how many options were available to me. If I wanted to create an album and put all those pictures into a nice book or album holder, I could do it. If I would rather order prints without the extras, I could do that too.

Although all of the services offer in-store pickup at retail partners, as well as shipping to an address, Wal-Mart's presentation of my options was the simplest and most obvious. I could choose to have my prints shipped to me, pick them up in an hour at any Wal-Mart store, or use in-store pickup at a later time.

Although the uploading process wasn't nearly as quick as Shutterfly's, it was adequate and didn't hold me up for too long. Once complete, I chose to upload 4x6-inch photos and to have them delivered at my home. And for a price of $0.09 for those and just $2.84 for 8x10-inch prints, it was a bargain.

Once I received the prints, I compared them to the competition and realized quickly that they held up quite nicely to Kodak Gallery prints and even eclipsed a few of them on certain images. That said, there were a few detail problems with two prints and I noticed a mistake on one print in the middle of the picture, which rendered it useless. But when the images were free from issues, they looked better than the prints from any other service.

Wal-Mart may not lead the digital print space in name recognition, but it easily stood above the rest in terms of pricing, options, and quality. And as long as you get good prints, you should be quite happy with the entire process.

Summing Up

Finding the best digital print service may be difficult, but Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly, and Wal-Mart's Digital Photo Center each offer something unique. And although they all lead in one area, I found that Wal-Mart's service offers the kind of flexibility and quality that puts it at the top of the list.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing