Sunday, May 7, 2017

Online Printing Services at Gogoprint

One of the things I've dabbled in the past from my travel and photography interests is online printing services. For many years, I've used various online printing services to print calendars (using my images of course!) for my year-end Christmas gifts. I designed my own name cards and print them using online printing services instead of going to the shops. I've printed a couple of photobooks for my own keepsake. So when I was given the opportunity to review Gogoprint, it was game-on.

Gogoprint markets itself as the biggest Online Printing company in Southeast-Asia. It is currently active in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, and from its website, I gather that for Singapore market, most of its products are printed in Malaysia and shipped to Singapore. Whatever the case, the important practical point is - it provides free shipping for all its products!

The Website

Simple & straightforward - just how I liked it

For an online printing service, its website is naturally an important aspect of its business - it is the interface to its clients and customers. The design is modern and straightforward - a ticker-scrolling-banner welcomes the visitors, followed by its products available and a graphical menu of instructions on how to use the website. Simple and effective and a good start as I hate messy and cluttered websites!

It is also mobile friendly, and consistent in its layout.

Looking at the 4 simple steps in using their service though, the first thing I noted was the difference in the payment step. In all my other online printing (and all online shopping for the matter) experiences, the payment is usually the final stage of the process. In Gogoprint's case, after choosing and configuring the product, you will be brought straight to the payment page (others I tried usually will be the upload files stage). Only after the payment, then you would be given a time frame to upload your artwork and files (the time frame is for Gogoprint to meet its production timelines). It is no biggie, just that its somewhat different from any of my other experiences. 

My main disappointment though, is its product list. As mentioned earlier, I had past experiences printing calendars, photobooks etc since I am a travel photographer and those are typical print jobs I needed. Sadly, those are not in Gogoprint's product lineup. For most businesses though, theirs seemed quite comprehensive. In any case, I decided to try the business cards, as well as postcards so that I could see its print quality on 2 different products.

The Process

Now, the entire process on how to utilize their service is in their Help Center, and in today's media-rich internet, they have wisely provided a nice set of videos.

They have also provided a very useful section on how to do up your artwork in order to get the best quality out of the print job, although I'm not sure why it's called "How to Close Artwork". From choosing the correct color mode, to setting bleed and margins, I thought it was a fantastic inclusion. Unfortunately, it seemed to be still work in progress, as the information is for Illustrator only (while I use Photoshop). Both Photoshop and InDesign sections are available but greyed out, so I guess it will eventually be there.

Only Illustrator Help is available while Photoshop and InDesign are greyed out
Really, the whole ordering process is so intuitive and straightforward, there's nothing much else to elaborate further. A thing I wanted to highlight was that a day after I submitted my artwork, I received a call from Gogoprint's staff. They actually called to verify some margin/bleed details in my artwork. It's great to know that my stuff are done by professional and responsible people!

The Product(s)

Gogoprint provides 1-day delivery for all its products, and indeed, I received my order promptly. It came in a SF Express plastic envelope.

My products arrived in a "SF Express" envelope

My business cards and postcards are lumped together inside the plastic envelope. While there was not much issue of my stuff being damaged while in transit with the 2 products "knocking" into each other, I wonder if a better padded envelope would be used for more fragile products (if any). In any case, I proceeded to check my order.

Since I have ordered business cards from elsewhere before, I have some frame of reference. I have ordered the cards using 310g Art Card with no finishing and the finished product is excellent!

There is a slight sheen over the cards even though I have chosen no finishing. I wonder if they have wrongly given me a free lamination "upgrade" or perhaps this is normal for the Art Card. Also, the colours and the black are richer than my previous business cards and I wonder if it was due to the information and tips in the "How to Close Artwork" section I mentioned earlier. I had followed some of the tips on how to handle my artfiles (like converting fonts and using CMYK etc, but applied using Photoshop), and things seemed to work out great! Whatever the case, I loved the end product :)

Gogoprint's printed business card on the right

As for the postcards, I was also happy with the end result. While I have not printed any postcards in the past, I obviously have seen many postcards, and mine seemed as professional as any of them. I've selected the 260g Art Card for this, and it does have that slight sheen as well.

Excellent quality postcards

Conclusion

I am overall quite pleased and impressed with both the finished products from Gogoprint. The whole process from start to finish was rather pleasant - A well-designed website to start off the experience, simple and effective ordering process, and excellent end products, inclusive of fast free shipping. I think their market focus is on corporate businesses, so they will not be doing products like photobooks, but I do hope they would offer printing of calendars one day. I would certainly use them!

They have a blog too that posts some useful articles and videos and I think occasionally they provide discounts too (currently, they have a 20% off first purchase). Their prices are quite competitive already, since the business cards I ordered was actually the same price as the one I printed locally. So, do check out Gogoprint when you have any printing needs!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

FlexiroamX Giveaway!

If you have read my previous blog post about traveling with data SIM, you'll know that I was using Flexiroam X, which had been a godsend for me when traveling through multiple countries. Well, they will be updating and launching their new Flexiroam X App tomorrow (1 March 2017), and as part of the launch, they will be giving away two microchips FREE!

The new revamped App comes with new design and features, and the highlights include :

1. Login with one-click via Facebook, Google or Email
  • Link account with Facebook to earn additional 400Mb data!

2. Referral link and Challenge
  • You no longer need to key in referral code when you refer your family and friends to sign up - use a special referral link just for you
  • Refer 5 friends in 24 hours and receive 1Gb of data! 


3. Internet Calls
  • Make local or international calls to any mobile or landline over the internet using your data balance (available on 25 March 2017)


So, how do you win one of the Flexiroam X microchip SIM? And oh, BTW, it comes with 1Gb of data!! :) :)

Just answer the below question and send the answer to my email address by 15 Mar 2017 (SGT). Put the subject as "Flexiroamx contest" so that it's easier for me to administer. Thanks.

Question : Name one new/updated feature of the FlexiroamX App.


Only winners will be notified. Winners will have to provide their shipping address to receive the product.

Good luck!

PS. For those who are getting the microchip SIM and signing up, you can use my referral link to get an extra 100Mb of data free! Thanks!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Starry Starry Winter's Night

The trip is coming to an end.

I would be heading down the mountains and towards Lyon for my flight home, and I know these two nights in the Swiss Alps would be my final chance to have a go at some star trail shots.

I began my 3-month trip with some hope for taking some shots of the stars and even the Milky Way. The Peruvian Andes and Patagonia were prime targets. And I brought along a camera and lens specifically for it! Sadly, it was to be severely under-utilized. I did have a good clear night (on my final night!) during my trek in Peru that I managed to convince my worn-out body to stay up for the shoot.

Alas for Patagonia, the weather was rather unkind. The only night of perfect clear sky was also the supermoon night, which lit up both earth and sky. But at least for that, I have some supermoon shots.

The Galapagos Islands were supposedly great for night skywatching too. But even as I wandered off to the outskirts of town to less light-polluted areas, the showing was disappointing. And of course, throughout the trip, there were plenty of cloudy nights.

But tonight at the village of Gimmelwald, the stars twinkled seductively. Even though the moon was also out, and there were some wispy clouds, the stars were clearly out to entice me! There was just one tiny problem. It was a frosty -12 deg C.

Still, with my tripod and camera, I trudged half an hour out to a higher point, and after quite a few test and trial shots, I began my shoot. As I paced around a one-metre circle trying to keep warm, the cold winter's night silently takes its toll. It seemed like eternity, but actually worked out to be barely 20 minutes, when I finally caved-in. The clouds are coming in, I told myself, and sped-walk back to my guesthouse where I quickly bundled myself to bed.

In the past, taking star trail shots essentially entails opening the shutter until your desired duration. Nowadays though, most people use the image-stacking method, which basically merges a bunch sequentially-shot images. I am also still learning and exploring this, and as I was processing the images, I was cursing myself for not "enduring" longer. Easier said than done :|

So here's a first cut of the short star trail and my last "stars" shot of the trip. Definitely hope there will be opportunities for more in the future!

Star Trails over Gimmelwald and the Swiss Alps