When you buy the first cutting machine (exciting!), do you want to know which one of the silhouette and Cricut is right for you? You can find the right place here.
I’ll break down everything about the Cricut Explore Air 2 , including how it differs from the Silhouette Cameo 3 model.
What is it exactly that makes this craft cutting a crowd favorite?
About the Cricut Explore Air 2
The Cricut Explore Air 2 was released in late 2016, it is a great machine for most people. It’s a good value and 2x fast mode to cut at twice the speed of the previous model. I think it’s the best-designed cutter on the market: it looks stunning and is a pleasure to use.
If you want to go straight to the best deals and bundles, give that a click to head down to the bottom of this review where I’ve collected those for you.
Key features of the Cricut Explore Air 2
The Cricut Explore Air 2 comes with the standard Fine-Point Blade, and it’s compatible with the Deep Point Blade and the Bonded Fabric Blade (sold separately). With these tools, you can cut over a hundred different types of material including:
- foam sheets
- bonded fabrics
- paper and vinyl, foam sheets and chipboard, to bonded fabric.
Here are three important features of the Cricut Explore Air 2:
2x fast mode. It has one major upgrade, which lets you cut thin materials like vinyl, paper, and cardstock at twice the speed. This is really helpful for people who make multiple copies of their projects (like teachers) or people who make things to sell who will appreciate the amount of time they save.
Built-in bluetooth capabilities. You can cut wirelessly and a double tool holder so you can cut and write all in a single pass. And like the Explore Air, the second clamp is compatible with accessories like the Scoring Stylus, Cricut Pens, etc. so there’s no need to purchase an additional adapter.
Smart Set Dial. You can easily choose the material you’ll be cutting, and the Cricut will automatically select the appropriate cutting depth and speed. This takes a lot of the frustration and guesswork out of picking the cut settings and will end up saving you significant time and material.
It’s a gorgeous machine with useful features to make your cutting projects a success. Personally I don’t actually use Fast Mode all that often, but it can definitely save you time if you do a lot of cardstock, vinyl, and iron-on projects!
About the Silhouette Cameo 3
The Silhouette CAMEO® 3 was released in August 2016. The Cameo 3 represents the newest model from Silhouette’s best-selling Cameo line. At first review, it sits on the desk like a gorgeous, sleek printer. But instead of printing ink onto a page, the Cameo 3 can cut and draw on over 100 different types of material.
I’ll run through the newest features of this machine and the important pros and cons, and then I break down all of the Silhouette Cameo 3’s features in an easy-to-read format, so you can determine if it is the right cutting machine for you.
New machine design
If you’ve used the Cameo 2 before, you’ll notice that the biggest change with the Cameo 3 is that it’s, well, bigger! The Cameo 3 is longer, wider, and weighs more than the Cameo 2. it keep a clean and streamlined design, and it has an incredibly sleek look that looks fabulous sitting in your crafting area.
I think overall the Cameo 3 is definitely a more attractive model than the previous Cameo.
Features of Your Silhouette Cameo 3
The Cameo 3 has multiple storage compartments. With your lid open, there are places to keep extra blades on the left. On the top rack, you can keep blades, tools, or pens, and the pull-out drawer at the bottom opens for more storage.
There is also a long, narrow tray above the dual carriage that is great for holding up to 12 sketch pens. (Really they all fit!)
(B) LCD Touchscreen
With the touch screen, you can load your media and access your machine settings. The Cameo 3 is our first machine to feature sounds to help you navigate through the screens. The touchscreen now features a series of easily-accessible tutorials that help with those who are new to the Silhouette family, or to cutting machines in general.
(C) Adjustable Rollers
The Cameo 3 is the first Silhouette featuring new adjustable rollers. The spring rollers have been designed for a strong yet gentle way to hold project materials in place, it much easier adjustment mechanism, just twist and slide.
Now that I’ve gone over how the new Cameo looks and feels, let’s move on to how she cuts!
(D) Cameo 3 Cutting
If you are using a long piece of media, the crosscutter can be very helpful. It is basically a paper-cutter on the back of your machine. The crosscutter lets you separate your finished cut job from the remaining media in one quick stroke. With the crosscutter track attached directly to the back, you will get a perfectly straight edge every time. Then, when you use the remaining media for a different project, your Cameo will load the nice, even edge very easily. If you use rolls of vinyl, the crosscutter will be very helpful.
The Cameo is able to cut long materials because you don’t have to stick your material to a cutting mat to run it through the machine. This Silhouette can do matless cutting on lined media (like regular adhesive backed vinyl).
(E) Built-in Bluetooth
The Cameo 3 is the first Silhouette machine with Bluetooth capabilities, all other Cameo editions, Bluetooth® is enabled, but you will need to install a Bluetooth® adapter.
Bluetooth lets you connect wirelessly to your computer, iPad, iPhone, or Android device. With 100 foot range, you can set up your Silhouette anywhere you want, without being tethered to your computer. Use Bluetooth® to get some of those pesky cords out of the way!
(F) Dual Carriage
Cameo 3 features a dual carriage. Are you like us and are a little bit EXCITED about the project possibilities? The tools are marked with little red circle on the left and a blue circle on the right. Insert your tools (such as an AutoBlade and a sketch pen) into the corresponding tool holders assigned in your Send panel. Watch two different tools work in one cut job!
The tools compatible with the its dual carriage are:
- AutoBlade. Automatically adjusts cut settings.
- Standard Blade. AKA the ratchet blade.
- Fabric Blade. Same as the standard blade, but in a different color to distinguish it for fabric-use only.
- Premium Blade. Lasts 3x as long as the standard blade.
- Deep-Cut Blade. Cuts materials up to 2mm thick.
- Sketch Pens. 24 colors now come with now with 2x the ink.
- Pen holder. Can hold 3 different sizes of pens and markers.
The Silhouette Cameo 3 is a solid machine, a great value, and the best Silhouette machine you can get today.
Unfortunately, Silhouette still has not improved on the mediocre cutting power of the Cameo series, so it can’t easily handle dense or tough materials.
If you want to cut long materials, the Silhouette Cameo 3 is a great choice.
- Silhouette Cameo 3 machine.
- 12″ cutting mat. This is how material is usually loaded into the Silhouette. Its price is very expensive, about one dollar is about 10 dollars, we recommend customers to use LinkedGo Cutting Mat, the same low price
- AutoBlade. Automatically adjusts to the cut settings you choose in Silhouette Studio.
- Crosscutter. A very useful tool for cutting rolls of vinyl.
- Power and USB cables.
- 1-year limited manufacturer’s warranty.