And now, back to photography... I just discovered printing at medium-large prints at Costco and this might change my thoughts on printing drafts of photos. As you know, I'm all about the print and images look different on paper than they do on screen. You usually have to go through a few revisions on paper before an image is really "right" and the turnaround time on prints really slows the process down if you don't have a photo-quality printer at home.
I've always known Costco had a photo department but I never really noticed their "poster" sized printing before. It turns out that for $6 you can get a 16x20" print, and for $9 you can get a 20x30" print. These prices are less than half of what mpix.com charges, and there's no shipping, and they print them while you wait. The prints are from an Epson 7890 with a 20" roll of Fujifilm Photo Paper Satin 270 - an entry level paper.
You can choose to have your order processed without color correction and they only have one printer, so the consistency from job to job should be pretty good. Prints smaller than 16x20 are printed on a different printer so the color won't be exactly consistent, but you can gang up four 8x10's to forma single 16x20 and it will be printed on the big printer.
This is a fabulous deal for draft printing and is pretty close to the cost of materials for this sort of print. These costs are so low that it could really change the way I think about print proofing. This means 8x10 test prints are $1.50 each with about a 30 minute turnaround time. (60 minutes including driving and parking)
The Epson 7890 will take rolls up to 24" wide and the photo guy mentioned that they might start stocking 24" paper which would let them offer 24x36 prints as well. I would guess they would charge around $15 or so, which is a really amazing deal.
I envision the final versions of most of my work printed larger than 20x30" and usually mounted too, so having a place like The Picture Element is still important for final versions, but using Costco for printing proofs might become a regular part of my workflow.