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Home Printing Or Online Printing Services: What’s The Best Way To Print Photos?

Home Printing Or Online Printing Services: What’s The Best Way To Print Photos?

When it comes to printing your digital photos, you have two options: develop and print your photos at home, or utilize local or online printing services. Practically speaking, for someone who only needs to print occasionally, using printing services may seem like the better and more cost-efficient option. Maintaining your own photo printer at home, however, may actually be beneficial. With home printing, you can control and manage every single detail of the process, from resources to cost, whenever you print.

Online printing services (also referred as e-printing, digital printing, print-on-demand, etc.) are typically touted as the best way to print just about anything, which is basically true. They are very flexible, allowing customers to choose from a variety of packages starting from around $0.10-$1.00, depending on the quality and materials used. And you have a wide variety of photo or specialty paper at your fingertips. Home printing, on the other hand, can be limiting, whether we like to admit it or not. The output you can get will depend on whatever resources you can afford to have in stock. Thus, if you need a really professional-looking document, then you better have the right supplies at hand.

You may now be wondering: Why I shouldn’t dump my print buddy and switch to those printing services? Hold on, guys! Both ways have good and bad points. We just have to weigh a few things up here before you make any moves.

Home Printing: What Can It Do For Me?

Look at your own printer, but don’t get sentimental. Just imagine how simple it makes everything for you. Plain text, reports, graphics, office files, business documents, photos and images are just some materials that it can produce. Some consumers even consider it as an investment to have a printer. The initial cost of such devices is fairly low nowadays, ranging from $135-$500+ (based on the review posted in CNET by Calvin Yu, entitled Best Photo Inkjet Printers).

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Of course, there are supplies you need to buy first, like paper media and printer ink. However, in general, the overall cost per page of printing at home is much cheaper than the combined cost of charges that you have to pay for any printing services. Plus, you don’t have to walk through all the necessary processes involved in ordering online. You also don’t have to wait until the package gets delivered to your doorstep, even if it is just a day or two (unless you’re willing to drive to the store for a pickup).

Here’s another noteworthy advantage of home printing: with the right tool — I mean with a really competitive photo inkjet printer that can match up with the quality of prints one can get from a printing service — there’s no need for you to spend a couple of bucks per print when you can print with almost the same quality at the comfort of your home. That ultimately leads to the question: Which printer to choose? Well, that depends on your demands. Again consider it as an investment. A high-end model may run to a couple of hundred dollars more, simply because of extra features. So, first check the level of quality it can produce, as features and functionality may follow.

Printing Services: Why Should I Choose Them?

Firstly, let’s feature some of the best printing service providers that everyone talks about in the print industry. Here are some of the well-known online digital printing services you might want to look at:

SnapFish – Owned by Hewlett-Packard and membership is free. It offers storage, manageability and quality combined. It has a wide selection of photo gift categories, including calendars, posters, mugs, stationery, blankets, and clothing, as well as products and accessories for home and office. Pricing starts at $0.09 per print.

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ShutterFly – Has an online community blog for members, where showcasing and learning awesome print projects are possible. Members can have a personal space (blog/site with a personalized URL) to host their own gallery with unlimited space. Plus network sharing is one of its fun features. Typical digital prints and photo gifts are covered. Pricing starts at $0.15 per print.

SmugMug – Recommended for photographers. It provides your own gallery, which can be viewed publicly or exclusively. Be sociable with your networks via the Like, Tweet, and Bookmark buttons for each photo. It’s more than just a digital photo printing service. Pricing starts at $0.19 per print.

York Photo – It requires membership and is more like a social networking site, rather than a printing service. Covering all basic digital prints and photo gifts, like playing cards, homewares and home décor. Pricing starts at $0.08 per print.

These four services come under the digital photo printing services category, which also includes:

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  • RitzPix
  • Walgreens Photo Center
  • Walmart Photo Center
  • Sam’s Club Digital Photo Center
  • Costco Photo Center (Requires membership starting at $55)

And here’s a shortlist of the top competing online printing services currently available to choose from:

  • U Printing
  • FedEx Office
  • Next Day Flyers
  • Vista Print
  • Mimeo
  • Overnight Prints
  • Print Place
  • Print Pelican
  • 48Hour Print
  • PS Print

Note that online printing services may cover fewer categories and features when compared to digital photo printing services with a wider scope. Online printing services are best suited for printing standard business documents and marketing materials. Whereas, digital photo printing services, as the name itself implies, are bound to satisfy the specific needs of digital photography.

Online Printing Services: Tax And Shipping Cost

Tax and shipping charges are applied on top of the total purchase amount of prints you ordered. So to give you an idea, let’s use SnapFish’s shipping standards and product pricing (prices were originally taken from their official website). Shipping and handling fees vary from different online printing services.

In SnapFish, once an order has been placed, order processing takes 2-4 business days. Orders using standard shipping take 3-4 business days, so your order should be at your doorstep in 5-8 business days.

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For pricing, here’s a table of the calculated shipping cost for a 4×6 print order. Take note that state and local sales tax will be applied to all orders.


Standard
Price (each)
2-day
Price (each)
Overnight
Price (each)
Canada
Price (each)
International
Price (each)
1-5 prints 99¢ $8.99 $10.99 $1.99 $4.99

 

Quality-wise, these online photo printing services are indeed reliable, but can be costly and time-consuming. Should you need better print quality than you think your own printer can possibly deliver, then I guess it won’t hurt to spend your hard-earned money on some online printing services once in a while. Furthermore, a dedicated photo-inkjet printer comes with limitations. Most cannot print on mugs and shirts, for example! Primarily, it is the quality that you’re after, not to mention the perks that come with all these great services.

Now in light of all this new information, have you thought of putting up your own online printing service? Kidding aside, home printing can also perform some of the options being offered by websites. On top of printing out photos, having your own inkjet printer allows you to print business documents or school reports. A home printer is more than capable of fulfilling most of your needs. You just have to learn how to use it properly to fit to your preferences.

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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