Cricut or Cameo – which is better for you?

Often when I attend various craft shows I am asked what is that machine you are using ending with … Is it a Cricut?  I smile and answer, no every time. Honestly, Cricut is a well known term even to non-crafters, but I have found no one seems to understand there is a really BIG difference.

Silhouette Cameo

Pros

  • You can cut without a mat and you can cut up to 10 feet long (12 inches wide). You can create stencils to use with wood signs to decorate with and it is easier to cut long stencils than to have to piece together smaller stencils. If you do attempt to cut longer pieces, I highly recommend that you purchase a roll feeder.
  • You can cut without a mat. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point, but you can cut certain materials without a mat (like vinyl). I find this a money saver, because I don’t have to keep buying mats.
  • Silhouette’s software program is robust. Even after using it for several years, I still find myself learning new tricks.
  • You do not have to buy cartridges or designs.  You have the freedom to design and cut what you create.  I have even drawn on my Surface Pro 4 with a pen and then used it to cut.  Being locked in to someone else’s ideas is just not for me!
  • Design or cut without an active internet and server connection.  You can design and work on ideas anywhere.  I have even done it while sitting in the car waiting for my girls to finish work.
  • Cut images out of preprinted media such as fabric, giftwrap, stamped media or commercial greeting cards.  This does require a PixScan mat but makes your crafting possibilities endless.
  • Backup all of your designs (purchased or created) to your own hard drive or other local media and/or to the cloud service of your choice.  This is huge to me.  Bottom line is I own my designs and they are mine to keep.  If Cricut goes out of business or you decide to switch to a Cameo, you lose your designs.
  • Cut/draw complex paths of over 3000 nodes
  • Cut directly from 3rd party software such as Make the Cut, Sure Cuts a Lot, Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw
  • Fill shapes with a seamless pattern without the seams showing, or with a gradient.
  • Easily draw, cut or score the same file with different settings for each layer or pass

Cons

  • Silhouette Studio has a huge learning curve. There are tons of tutorials online, written by fellow bloggers to help you out along the way.  I do recommend joining various FB groups as they have aught me a lot.  I will be honest, when I first bought my machine I cut some paper and then was frustrated for a while until I did my research online and joined a group.  There is no manual or step by step guide.
  • Silhouette requires you to purchase add ons to enhance the features of Silhouette Studio (Designer Edition, Business Edition, etc). I feel like I purchased the expensive machine already, just give me the best possible software!  I do have the Designer Edition and honestly feel it is a must have so include it in your start up costs.
  • The Silhouette blades do not last as long as the Cricut blades. I usually use a CB09 blade in my Cameo, but this does void your warranty.  The CB09 blade is in my opinion a much better blade for your money.  The small thin details it can cut is INCREDIBLE! So once again, I recommend to include this in your start up costs too.
  • It’s LOUD. In fact, it’s much louder than a Cricut.  You can just put up with it like me, or place a thin towel under it to absorb sound.

Pros and Cons of the Cricut Explore Air

 

Pros

  • The Cricut cuts paper better than the Silhouette. I think this has to do with the way that the blade rotates in the machine.
  • You select cutting settings on the top of the machine, no need to remove the blade to change a setting. I do not have to change my blade settings though because I use a CB09 blade.
  • The Cricut can cut thicker materials – like balsa wood – and handles leather, glitter paper and more with ease. If you are looking for more information about this, Cricut had an independent lab do two studies on the Cricut versus the Cameo. This study hasn’t been updated recently so I mention it only as a thought and not proof positive.
  • If you’ve previously used a Cricut and have designs on cartridges, you can use them with your Cricut Explore – but they are not necessary.

Cons

  • The software, Design Space, requires an internet connection to use. This means that if you have a slow internet connection, Cricut is not for you. Design Space has been known to crash, freeze, and lag. Basically, if Cricut is having an issue with their site, you will have issues with Design Space.
  • Design Space is a simplified software program. This is a pro and a con. If you plan to cut predesigned files, this is great for you. If you want more freedom in the software, you may find it limiting.
  • The Print and Cut area is much smaller than the Silhouette. For novice users, print and cut means printing something on your home printer and having the machine cut it out.
  • The machine itself is bigger and heavier than my Silhouette.
  • If you rely on your cutter for a business, the Explore simply can not be your only machine because internet or server interruptions will bring you to a halt. I would also consider the lack of content control to be a major concern for business owners.
  • Cannot backup all of your designs (purchased or created) to your own hard drive or other local media and/or to the cloud service of your choice.  This is huge to me.  Bottom line is I own my designs and they are mine to keep.  If Cricut goes out of business or you decide to switch to a Cameo, you lose your designs. when you “purchase” files from the store you don’t own them you are only actually “renting ” them according to Cricut.
  • SVG handling issues and you cant use PDF –many printables come as PDF
  • Truly limited software. if you are even vaguely computer literate or use MTC or SDE or SCAl you may well find this truly frustrating and counter-intuitive.
  • To be honest, the biggest con of the Cricut is their strict rules on sale of created work. That angel policy is really difficult to work around depending on your business venture.

I can say with confidence now that the machine I choose when in my craft room is the Silhouette Cameo. I understand this machine is not for everyone, however I have never been so happy with a personal cutting machine and it amazes me everyday to see how well this machine performs.  Feel free to post below your opinion and let’s share our crafting experience together!

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