Previously PC-only, the recently released and free-to-download version 4.5 of the My CeWe Photo World photo-printing application offers Mac compatibility. There is also a host of new features and products, but how does it compare with iPhoto?
My CeWe Photo World lets you use your digital photos to design and order products offered by Photo World, such as prints, photobooks, poster-and canvas-sized reproductions, greetings cards, calendars and all sorts of gifts.
Unfortunately, the user interface lacks polish. It's functional and straightforward, but lacks in clarity. For example, in the layout section, the Frame and Image pulldowns are shown by the same icon, but flipped horizontally.
Importing your photos into the application is cumbersome. Although it interfaces with your iPhoto library, it doesn't offer your pictures in Albums or Events. Instead you're presented with iPhoto's folder tree, which wasn't designed to be navigated by the end user.
To make matters worse, the application crashed by inadvertently selecting pictures that were in the trash. You can get around these problems by creating a folder on your Desktop and dragging the pictures you wish to use into it directly from iPhoto, but you really shouldn't have to.
Laying out your books, cards and gifts is straightforward, but again you're hampered by the cumbersome interface. There are plenty of options and you soon get the hang of its idiosyncrasies, but designing your goodies never feels instinctive.
There are some useful touches in there, such as the Help Grid used to help line up your pictures on the page, and the Frame Positioning option to align your pictures automatically or set the size and zoom.
The expected layout features are there, such as resizing or rotating image windows, overlapping pictures, on-page text and adding frames or drop-shadows. You can add backgrounds to your pages if required, and even throw in the odd piece of clip art. Yet, for the average user, Photo World is less than instinctive.
Price-wise, My CeWe Photo World is cheaper than Apple's service. 6x4 photos cost just 8p each against iPhoto's VAT-adjusted 11p, and 7x5 prints are 18p with iPhoto charging 27p. Larger reprints are slightly more expensive, with Apple charging £1.11 for a 10x8 against CeWe's £1.19.
Apple's calendars start at around £14.50 after VAT, with a CeWe offering a similar product for £9.99, with a bigger range of products and sizes on offer. When looking at photobooks it's difficult to compare like with like, but CeWe is competitive and again offers a much better range.
Range of products
The range of goods on offer is where CeWe's scores heavily. You can buy mousemats, jigsaws, mugs, stickers, keyrings, textiles, playing cards and more, all decorated with your photos of choice. You can even order cuddly toys with your chosen image printed on its t-shirt. It's an impressive selection that certainly puts the iPhoto range in the shade, and as there's very little layout involved here, so the clumsy interface is not really an issue.
And the results? We ordered a hard-cover photobook and some gifts – and we were impressed. The mug was a little dark and the mousemat not as crisp as we'd have liked, but this was partly down to the choice of shots. Overall, the goods were of a high standard. We can't comment on the quality of ordinary prints as the software crashed every time we tried to order some.
My CeWe Photo World is useful for ordering goods that iPhoto doesn't offer, and when it's stable it will be handy for cheaper prints. But, without improvements, it can't be recommended for designing photobooks and calendars.