LetterPop: Family newsletter 2.0

LetterPop is a new service that makes creating attractive personal newsletters easy.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

LetterPop is a new service that makes it easy to create attractive personal newsletters. It's an interesting option for creating personal pages that are not a river of text like a blog, and yet are better at telling a story than an online photo album. There are currently 14 LetterPop templates, and most are well suited for telling family stories, showing family photos, and sending recipes.The templates are a bit less suitable, however, if you want a newsletter for your small business.

The service has a simple mailing list manager you use to send your newsletters out to friends and family. Unfortunately, recipients don't actually get the newsletter, only a link to the LetterPop site where the newsletter is stored. It'd be much better if the actual newsletter was sent through by e-mail. Recipients can unsubscribe from your mailings if they like, though. That's a nice touch.

I like what this product does, and I admire its very clean and simple interface. The service doesn't layer on a bunch of extraneous options and features that would make it hard to use. However, it's a young product and perhaps it needs a bit more refinement before I'd recommend it to my mother-in-law. For example, when you place a photo into a layout, the system puts an attractive border around it that cuts into the image. In my tests, the border cut off the heads of people in a group shot.

And while I'm at it, here's another gripe: LetterPop is yet another service you have to upload photos to. For services such as this to be truly easy to get into, we need an integrated online storage system--such as the ones Sharpcast and OmniDrive are working on--they let you manage all your images in one place. Or these services also could work with photo-sharing sites such as Flickr or Webshots (CNET's photo-sharing service). I don't mind uploading images once, but after that I find it a real drag to use other photo sites.

The service is free during the beta period but imposes limits on the number of newsletters and photos you can work with; there may be paid options later with more storage and other features.

See also: Tabblo [our blog post] makes photo posters and links directly to Picasa.