Monday, May 12, 2008

Never Again Hear "Why Don't You Send Me Pictures Of The Kids?"

As I've said before, my mom is constantly upset with me because I never give her new pictures of the girls. I show her new pictures on the computer when she comes to visit, and each time she asks me to print off some of them for her. I always forget.

While I do give her digital versions of the photos, she has no idea how to get them printed off. (It's not like when she could take a roll of film to the store and have it developed.) Which is why I was interested in trying out Kinzin, a photo sharing service that offers several advanced features to keep grandparents happy.

Kinzin has many of the features that other photo sharing services offer - the ability to keep your photos private, the ability to e-mail photos, etc. But unlike other services, Kinzin specifically is targeting families with children in the services they offer.

When you first set up an account, you have the option to set up separate categories for each child. You can then upload your pictures into each one, adding in information about your child to their "kidstream" if you want, such as a wishlist or your child's favorite things. You can also create virtual books using the pictures you upload, adding in titles and text.

This service is extremely easy for less tech-savvy grandparents to view. Simply send them an invite e-mail, and they can then access the photos. There is very little clicking involved, and each section is clearly labeled, making it less likely to cause any confusion.

Uploading is fast and simple. You can either upload from your computer, or pull your pictures from your Flickr account, and add a caption if you want. My only complaint is that I haven't found a way to go back and edit an image in any way once you upload another image to a kidstream.

But the most unique service from Kinzin is their automated print delivery system. For $2.99 a month (per recipient), you can have your ten most recent photos printed and mailed to the person of your choice. It requires no effort from you other than uploading your pictures and if you have more than ten uploaded in a month, selecting the ones you want to print and send. They do all the work from that point - printing, packaging, and mailing.

I'm really impressed with the automated print delivery, and feel this is what sets Kinzin apart from other photo sharing services. I set up three addresses for my account (you can set up as many as you like, and every third is free): one to my mom, one to Aaron's dad, and one to myself so I could see how well the photos turned out.

My mom received hers first, but only by a matter of hours. Each of us received our package on the same day. She was thrilled to see some of her favorite images on paper, and immediately started putting them in frames. My father-in-law also commented that he was happy to have some printed copies of the photos.

The photo quality is pretty good. It's not the best out there, but then again, my digital camera doesn't take the best shots, either, so the blame could lie with my camera. But the pictures were clear, the colors were good, and I was impressed that the photo paper was so thick. My only complaint is that the photos have a matte finish, and I wish I would have had the choice between glossy or matte. It's a minor thing, but some people really love that glossy finish.

Overall, I like Kinzin, and think it is a great way to keep your family in touch. If you have family members who live far away, getting ten photos of the kids each month will be a welcome thrill for them. If, like me, your family lives nearby but you use a digital camera, they will also enjoy getting hard copies of photos. If you're worried about the safety of your images, Kinzin is also a good choice, because you have complete control over who can see your pictures.

I'm glad that Parent Bloggers introduced me to Kinzin, because thanks to them I will no longer have to deal with nagging grandparents who want more pictures of their granddaughters. For more reviews of Kinzin, be sure to visit the Parent Bloggers Network.

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