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Online digital photo printing services seem very similar until you look closely

Even if you print a lot of photos at home, there are still plenty of reasons to use an online photo printing service -- sharing and archiving your digital photos; ordering specialty prints, novelty and gift items or photo books; or creating greeting cards, announcements and invitations. Most sites even have fairly sophisticated photo-editing tools, which is handy if you don't own photo-editing software or if you are away from home.

When choosing a site, sometimes what's most important is the comfort level you have with the interface and site design. Once you get past the top three or four sites, the differences between services, quality and price points become quite negligible. So whatever service you feel offers the best convenience delivery method, features and products or site navigation may be your personal preference. It's to your advantage to try out a few of them, and luckily you can do that at little to no expense, as a few test prints are inexpensive -- and a lot of sites even offer a number of free prints for new members or as promos.

Most reviewers agree that online digital printing is cheaper (at 10 to 20 cents per 4-by-6-inch print) than the cost of buying a photo printer (typically no less than 25 cents per 4-by-6-inch print), but you'll relinquish some control and convenience. Check out ConsumerSearch's report on photo printers for specifics and our top picks. Of course, you can also print photos on inkjet printers or multifunction printers. See our blog post that pits photo printers against commercial printing to see which comes out on top.

Reviews of digital photo printing services aren't necessarily comprehensive, but sources like Lifehacker.com and PCMag.com offer some insights. TopTenReviews.com offers side-by-side comparisons and rankings of several of the top online picture-printing sites. More often than not, you'll find articles where a particular service is featured in a publication's best-of list of some sort.

For instance, photo editors from Good Housekeeping and Real Simple pick a few favorite sites for specific tasks or capabilities. User reviews are trickier to find, since we're not really talking about a product that you purchase from a retailer, but they are out there. We found some good feedback on PhotographyReview.com. Tech-oriented organizations like PCMag.com review digital printing sites alongside other super-trendy photo- and video-sharing platforms.

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