While browsing the news feed of my Facebook account one day, I encountered a "suggested post" (advertisement) from Mosaic (heymosaic.com), a photo book printing service. I was intrigued by the message of the ad, "$20 for a printed, bound photo book with 20 photos of your choice straight from your iPhone and $5 shipping." I clicked on the link to download the Mosaic app from the App Store to learn more.
The Mosaic App is actually quite simple and the entire process, from ordering, payment, shipping, etc. is strictly driven by the iOS app (now recently available for Android 4.1+). The 20 page photo book creation process involves selecting 20 photos of your choice, either from you Photo Library, Camera Roll, Photo Streams (or any shared albums) or Facebook photo galleries.
Once you've selected your 20 photos, you can shuffle the mosaic on the photo book cover around, which is randomly generated by the Mosaic app, until you are content with your mosaic. You can also elect to choose the color of the pages: black or white. If you pick black, then then entire photo book will be black, including the cover. If you choose white, the cover remains black but the pages in the photo book will be white, i.e. your photos will appear as if they are surrounded by a white frame.
The total cost of the photo book is $20 plus $5 flat shipping (at the time of ordering) and tax.
The photo book arrived quickly, 4 business days to California. It arrived in a yellow padded envelope and in its own neatly designed 9" x 9" package:
The packaging is pretty impressive from a presentation standpoint. The photo book sits neatly tucked inside a pocket built into the package.
The photo book is nicely crafted, especially for $20. The cover is bound with black cloth and has the Mosaic logo nicely cut-out and 13 of the 20 photos you've picked shows through the cutout of your liking.
From a photographer's or a print aficionado's perspective, the quality of the photo prints could use some improvements. The photos, while good enough in quality for what they do, shows obvious signs of print dithering. Through a common set of eyes, the photos are high quality prints on black or white pages, depending on your choice.
Mosaic is an excellent gift idea for those that want something personalized and thoughtful but just don't have time (or the budget) to go out and pick out a gift. I've ordered a photo book from Mosaic to give to the lady to celebrate our 5th year anniversary as a couple to complement our anniversary dinner and she couldn't be happier.
Traveling is another great time to use the Mosaic photo book service. For example, while traveling abroad, you can take snapshots of your favorite locations, people and or events and then order a Mosaic photo book through your smartphone and have it sent to family members or friends who remain stationary at their residence. Think of it as a personalized postcard in that respect.
As of this writing, other cost effective print services not too different from Mosaic are springing up. I will subsequently check those services out and write my thoughts about them when time allows.