Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Re-usable Water Bottles

Last week I became curious as to how much money (and how many one-use plastic bottles) I would save if I began to use a reusable water bottle.

I attend school for 8 hours a day, twice a week. On most of those days I spend $1.25 on either water or soda to tide me over until I get home. A semester is typically 15-14 weeks long, and after taking into account the days I might be absent, I spend roughly $32.50 a semester on drinks. Occasionally, about once a month, I will buy a plastic bottled beverage at some other place.

Rough yearly costs-
Paid: $80
Bottles used: 64

If taking into account my remaining 3 semesters-
Would pay: $240
Bottles would use: 192

That's a good chunk of change for a poor college student. I can imagine the costs to those who buy one once a day at work- they'd over triple my amount!

So to cut costs, I purchased two reusable bottles (one for water, the other for tea or coffee, or soda) which totalled to $14. On some days I will probably want soda, but I can fill my bottle from a store-bought 2 liter which is cheaper than a basic 20 ounce bottle. Over the remaining three semesters, and guessing the amount of 2 liters I might purchase, using these bottles diligently will save me about $206. Pretty nifty!

If you are someone who purchases many bottled drinks, I highly encourage you to figure out what it's costing. Taking the 3 minutes to fill a bottle with water the night prior is well worth saving the $1.25.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Comparing Online Photo Printing Services: AdoramaPix, Shutterfly and Snapfish‏

I noticed that a lot of people are asking for a comparison of printing services to determine the best quality for the price. I recently ordered photos from three different online services (after accidentally getting ink on my most recent batch from snapfish) and thought I'd chime in my opinion! I am in no way affiliated with any of these places and I'm just a casual photo taker.

General Info

For signing up:
10 free 4x6 if referred by a friend.
Photo paper used: Kodak Professional
Paper types: Glossy, Matte, Lustre, Metallic, Black & White
Regular pricing for 4x6: $0.19 or $0.27 (for Metallic and B&W)
Borders: They only offer a thin white border (perfect in my case because this is was I wanted).
Shipping: It took a little longer for the prints to arrive, but the packaging was AMAZING.
Site use: The site is very nice and you have a lot of control when adjusting/cropping the photos. The ordering process takes a little while to figure out though. It IS possible to order different paper types in one order (and one shipping charge). You just need to set up a new "project" for each photo type separately.
Other comments: There is an option to add a short label, file name, and/or date to the back of each print in a project.

Shutterfly-For signing up: 50 free 4x6 prints
Photo paper used: Fujicolor Crystal Archive
Paper types: Glossy, Matte
Regular pricing for 4x6: $0.15
Borders: They have TONS of border options.
Shipping: They printed and shipped really fast. I was surprised.
Site use: Their site was probably my favorite to use. It was really easy to upload and keep the photos well organized (they won't delete them after a certain time period either). You can make a website of sorts to share with family/friends and they can download those pictures straight from it.
Other comments: There is an option to add a short label which will print on the backs of the photos.

Snapfish-For signing up: 20 free 4x6 prints
Photo paper used: Fujicolor Crystal Archive
Paper types: Glossy, Matte
Regular pricing for 4x6: $0.09
Borders: They have TONS of border options.
Shipping: Arrived fairly quickly.
Site use: Maybe it's just me but it always takes a long time to load. It is fairly well organized though, easy to find things, but the albums a little harder to navigate through and switch.
Other comments: Snapfish has GREAT sales if you wait for them. Occasionally they put up 100 prints for $0.01 each.

Print Comparison
The fun part! I tried to explain the differences of the prints to the best of my ability. A good quality print is often on the top of my list and I'm usually willing to sacrifice something else for it.
AdormaPix: Of the three I tried, they had the most accurate skin tones and the prints were incredibly close to the original digital file. I was very pleased. I also ordered some prints on the metallic paper because I had never seen that before. When paired up with the right photo, the metallics are COOL! Subtle, but very neat, looks nice in the frame and have a lot of depth.

Shutterfly: They looked okay. It could have been that particular print run, but they had a slight greenish tint to them and the faces were much redder than they should have been. Price wise for what I got, I wouldn't use them again for prints.

Snapfish: I liked them better than shutterfly, they were nice and sharp, but they sure brightened the coloring! I don't think I hit any options while uploading/checking out, but the colors were even brighter than the original digital photo. For some photos this looked really good. For others it looked horrible and fake. The skin tones were really white and washed out, which in my opinion was much better than shutterfly's red tones, but not as good as AdormaPix. Price wise though, snapfish is very good.
To the left is a perfect example of Snapfish's color problem with certain photos. The original picture was an old family photo which was scanned in (scanned by Costco, I think). On the top is the print from AdormaPix with metallic paper. It looks almost exactly like the scan. The bottom print is Snapfish's matte.
The difference is pretty obvious. Snapfish brightened way too much and her face is BEET RED.
Also, that weird strip on AdormaPix's photo is supposed to be there (it is part of the original image and I had cropped it off when ordering from snapfish).

ConclusionWell, I will continue to use them all for different purposes.

For prints in general, AdormaPix wins hands down. I generally order no more than 100 prints per year so the higher price isn't much of an issue. It is totally worth it to pay an extra $0.10 to be able to actually see my Grandma's face in the frame. Plus they have so many paper options (which I'm becoming a sucker for). They definitely will get all my pictures of people due

I will continue to use Snapfish for a cheaper alternative (and catch those nice deals!) to non-people pictures that could use the brightening. I will also continue to use them (and Shutterfly) for the cards and other merchandise they offer. AdormaPix doesn't have as many options for fun borders and formats.
Well, I hope this post was able to help somebody! I probably will continue to compare more companies as I come across them. If I find one which does a better job than AdormaPix I'll put up an update!