Image Quality

This photo should just be used for a general reference. It is rather difficult take a perfectly accurate digital image of six different postcards of a digital image that will appear correctly calibrated on every viewer's screen.

All of the cards had what I would consider quite acceptable image quality for a postcard and none of them were significantly above or below the others. You do have to understand that these are not meant to be framed archival prints. But as postcards, I have a hard time believing that anyone would be disappointed with the quality.

If forced to choose, I would say that Ink, Touchnote, and Postcard had the best overall image quality in my test as far as detail, color balance and exposure. Snapshot Postcard had good detail and color, but was a little underexposed. Postagram has good detail and exposure, but color balance was a little warm. In all the cards, you can see the difference between the larger sensor images and the iPhone image. It wasn’t enough that you would scoff at the iPhone image if you saw it on your own, but comparing them side-by-side it was easy to pick out the cards from the better camera.

Delivery Speed

I ordered all of the cards late on a Sunday night and almost all of them arrived the following Saturday, with a couple of stragglers coming in on Monday. The only exception was the Ink Premium card which was the early bird, arriving on Thursday. Overall, in the US, I would say that you should expect the timeframe from order to delivery to be 5-7 business days. Somewhat unsurprisingly, that is pretty much exactly what all of the apps claim for their delivery times.

Toughness

Just as with traditional postcards, there is likely to be some amount of damage in the mail. None of the cards were immune to the hazards of the postal service (in my case, the USPS). The Ink, Touchnote and Snapshot Postcards cards seemed to fare the best out of the group. The cards from Postcard were prone to end up with a slight scuff or rub somewhere on the image, perhaps due to Postcard’s semi-gloss finish or more likely, lack of a glossy laminate. The edge of the glossy laminate on the Postagram cards seemed more susceptible to snagging on the postal machines. To be honest though, this is really just luck of the draw, as some pieces of mail have a rougher time in transit than others. And, like I said before, this happens with regular souvenir shop postcards as well. If having your card arrive as pristine as possible is important to you, then you should look into some of the greeting card options or Ink’s Premium postcard, that are are sent in envelopes.

Intangibles

Snapshot Postcard is the only one of the apps that gives you the ability to set a return address. Is a return address necessary? Perhaps not. But I find it odd that no other apps offered the option. Ink’s Premium card with its heavier matte cardstock, embossed envelope and actual stamp is a nice touch and protected the card well. But at $3 more than a standard card, it may be pricey for everyday sending.

Postcard puts real stamps on its cards as well. Aside from Ink Premium, all the other apps use 'USPS pre-sort' postage (like you’d see on a prepaid subscription card or donation envelope). While it didn’t get the card there any faster, the Postcard stamp was a nice touch. Postagram’s square pop-out images may be uninteresting for some, but would be perfect office-cubicle or windowsill decoration for others. Finally, Touchnote prints the date that the card was sent above the address. This could turn out to be very handy when looking back through these memories in the future.

Read the fine print

As always, when using a photography app or service, make sure that you take a look at any Terms & Conditions that apply to its use. While most legitimate companies have moved away from the ugly rights-grabbing that appeared in the early days of the internet, it still is worth your time to make sure that you understand if and how your images could be used. In addition, some apps and services may have limits on what subject matter is allowed.

What's the Bottom Line?

All of these apps work just fine. The image quality and delivery speed of the cards is more than acceptable. So, on one level, you should just choose whichever app offers the interface or features that you are looking for. If I hadn’t been deliberately comparing each one, there is little doubt that I would have been satisfied with any of the cards that arrived in my mailbox.

All that aside, since this is a review, I should probably pick winners. My personal favorites are Ink and Touchnote. Their apps are easy to use, their cards have clean and understated graphic designs and the image quality is, to my eye, the best balance of color, exposure and sharpness.

While unique, I don't really care for the square format and pop-out feature of Postagram. That said, I must admit my kids LOVE the squares and fought over who would get to keep them. Snapshot Postcard’s graphic design feels a little dated compared to the others. Since your first card is free, though, there’s no reason not to give it a try. Finally, while it's nice to have a non-glossy option and high image quality, Postcard’s semi-gloss cardstock took the most damage in transit.

Try Three of These Apps For Free

SnapShot Postcard

As I mention above, SnapShot Postcard allows you to send your first card free of charge. So head to the app store of your choice and download it today: http://www.snapshotpostcard.com

Postagram

First, click on this link to download Postagram: getapp.in/ytYP/mFXvM Then enter promo code 'DPreview' at checkout to send your first Postagram to the US, free of charge. This code is valid only for the first 500 people who use it.

Ink

Follow this link to download Ink: getapp.in/S79K/waNMb Then enter promo code 'InkPreview' at checkout to send your first Classic Ink Card (meaning you can't send a Premium card) to the US, free of charge. Like the Postagram code above, this code is valid only for the first 500 people who use it.