Saturday, December 31, 2016

Cricut Air vs Cameo 3

It's almost new years!  Yay!

Recently I have purchased two crafting machines.  I wanted to go over some of the things I learned from these.  I hope you find this helpful. :)

Cricut Background: My very first crafting machine was a Cricut.  It was the 6" Cricut and then I immediately upgraded to the Cricut Expression so I could cut 12x12 pieces of paper.  I loved my Cricut. It is a well built, sturdy machine that cut well every time. Then I was given a Cricut Gypsy for my birthday.  I watched endless tutorials and learned to be proficient with my Cricut Gypsy.  Unfortunately my Gypsy died and I had to have it replaced.  I didn't realize that meant routing up all my cartridges and reattaching them after waiting for the Gypsy to be mailed to me so it could have the same serial number.  Wow. I diligently reattached all my cartridges.  It had been a few years since I used my Cricut and my friend wanted to borrow a cartridge.  I figured I'd just let her borrow my Gypsy.  I charged it up and turned it on.  Everything worked.  I lent it out and she returned it saying it would not turn on. Sure enough, the Gypsy had died again. I tried downloading Cricut Design Space and didn't care for the software much.  It was hard to use on my laptop and at this point I was using a Silhouette Cameo. I tried Cricut Craftroom but when I went to link my cartridges I found out that I would have to link them using my Gypsy.  Unfortunately there was no work around. I ended up contacting Cricut and they requested I send them a picture of the front and back of all my cartridges with an Excel list of the Cartridges and serial numbers so they could link them.  I was really sad to hear they wouldn't fix my Gypsy and they discontinued it altogether.  R.I.P. Gyspy.  Reluctantly, I complied.  I have to say though, the Cricut support team is wonderful!  They return your emails in a timely manner and are very helpful!  I sent my list and photos and they said they would be attached within 15-20 days.  I'm okay with this since it is the holiday season.  I did end up having to call in and have them attach the cartridges because they hadn't attached all of them.  I also needed to log out and log back in for them to appear (thought I would share just in case anyone else was having issues.) I recently just purchased a Cricut Explore Air.  I was looking at many websites and found that my Cricut Expression is considered an old outdated model of machine.  It brought me many years of happy crafting so I am okay with retiring it or just using it with cartridges.

New Cricut Explore Air:
I literally unboxed this machine minutes ago and set it up.
Here's what I am loving with this new machine!

  • Sturdy machine, well built
  • Dual carriage
  • Already set up for cutting right out of the box
  • Pen is easily inserted in to preset up carridge
  • Cup in the machine to hold tools
  • Simple turn dial for choosing materials
  • Simple buttons that light up prompting you on your next step
  • VERY easy set up with Cricut Design Space
  • Great new software with Cricut Design Space
  • Open button opens up your machine in a slow dramatic way (kinda cool!)
  • Slot to link cartridges
  • Not too noisy
  • Extra storage
  • New mat is very pretty, not too sticky that it rips the paper
  • Pen is easy to use
  • Free subscription to Cricut Access
  • Machine isn't too large, very compact and cuts through thick materials
I could go on but basically this is a wonderful machine.  I especially loved that part of the set up is a project so you are immediately successful! I love that the first project also uses multiple tools! This would be something I would be more hesitant to try.  I have always looked at the pens for both the Cricut and Silhouette but never invested in any.  It was very smart of them to include one with the machine because now that I have experience how easy it is to use them and seen the beautiful results you get with it, I will be investing in a set in the future.  I love the sounds of my older Expression machine and was a little sad they changed the cutting sounds but it was a good change.  The sounds the machine makes while cutting are not as loud and are smooth sounding.  I can't say it enough, I am loving this machine. I did watch a few youtube reviews as well and it looks like the Cricut Air is able to cut through thicker materials with cleaner cuts.  I'm glad I am back with the Cricut family! I'm looking forward to trying the print and cut feature!

There is a Cricut Explore Air 2 which is faster according to reviews I've read but I found the Air on sale for $178.89 and couldn't pass it up! :) The Air 2 was on sale as well somewhere around $250.  It was too big of a price gap for me to justify the faster machine. I also love the color of the Explore Air. :) 

Update: I have continued to use my Cricut Explore Air and still in love with this machine.  I can't say it enough, it's so easy to use!  They have even included some of the features that Silhouette has that I love like welding, being able to import images from outside sources, easy uploads, the software will create different layers for you automatically, and everything is laid out in a simple manner.  I am having to learn a few things on this new machine that I have already mastered on the Silhouette so unless the image is a Cricut image, I still would probably use the Silhouette to do some of the more complicated things on the machine just because I'm impatient with the learning curve.  I love that there are three different mats for different media, the dial has proven to be super easy as well as the custom settings!  The storage on the machine is super helpful and the machine seems to be well built like the last one I owned for years.  

Silhouette Background: 
I was hesitant to get a Silhouette Cameo machine but I have a tech savvy friend who talked me into it with her amazing projects and all the beautiful cuts her Silhouette made.  I was intimidated by the amount of technology that was involved with the Silhouette software and since I have never used Adobe Illustrator or any design software, the idea of learning all this new information was scary.  I did however love the idea of free cut files weekly and being able to use the Print and Cut feature as well as using images from the internet. I finally gave in and purchased my very first Silhouette Cameo machine.  It's the original with no touch screen.  The machine itself seemed to be not as sturdy as the Cricut Explore machine but it was quieter when I cut and had endless possibilities with the design studio software. The learning curve was much more steep with the Silhouette than the Cricut.  I had to learn about things like the trace feature, turning off the high pass filter, etc.  Once I got the hang of it though, I loved the Silhouette for the print and cut feature.  There were tons of youtube videos out there thankfully so I was able to learn to use my machine. Now I use it all the time! Then came the pixscan mat which doesn't always work for me on the first shot but when it does, it does a wonderful job! I also bought the Silhouette Curio.  I used it for etching and it did a wonderful job. I tried embossing with it but it wasn't as easy as I had hoped.  I think you have to score and emboss for the image to be easily visible.  I have had my Silhouette Cameo for years now and with the release of the Cameo 3 I decided it was time for a new machine.

Silhouette Cameo 3

  • Bluetooth
  • Dual carriage
  • Auto adjust blade
  • Extra storage
  • Touch screen
  • Silhouette Design Studio still works with it, no need to convert to new software
  • Easy to register with Silhouette software
  • Extra storage space
  • Machine is larger than the original Silhouette Cameo
  • Built in storage for blades
Again, I could go on and on with the great new features of the Cameo 3. I love the idea of the auto adjusting blade. What a nice concept to not have to pull the blade out every time you switch materials.  I also loved the extra storage. All of my tools and extras fit in the compartments.  Unfortunately I am not having much success with this machine. when it comes to cutting  I was not able to update the Firmware when I first got it which is a key point in making the machine work properly.  I tried different things I found online and eventually just contacted Silhouette.  Then the next thing I had issues with was cutting.  I didn't realize I had to select auto blade when I was cutting so my cuts weren't coming out correctly.  Also, my double cuts weren't cutting on the same spot. I contacted Silhouette which is how I learned about the auto blade setting and tried again. While a simple single cut works fine, I am still not getting a good cut with the double cut.  The cuts aren't lining up resulting in a unsalvageable image. I have again emailed Silhouette and am waiting to hear back. Thankfully their customer service is very responsive and have been super helpful.  I hope they will help me fix this issue.  

I am hoping to get this machine up and running successfully.  I am not technology savvy as some Silhouette users are so I am counting on the Silhouette Support people to help me.  I joined a few Facebook groups as well to get tips and tricks.  I would love to be able to move my machines off my workspace and cut primarily through the bluetooth.  I'm crossing my fingers!

Update: After numerous emails, two phone calls and a few videos, I was finally able to return the machine and they immediately sent out another machine.  The customer service department was very nice although  it seemed like they asked a lot of the customer to prove that the machine was faulty.  I'm not a youtube videographer so it was difficult for me to provide the video in good quality and then upload it and send it over. In the end I did it though! Yay!  I have the new machine but now I'm not sure I want to upgrade to the new machine.  I'm happy with the older machine right now.  The new machine is really big as well which is one thing I wasn't fond of.  It takes up a lot of space and I need all the counter space I can.  I don't feel at this time I can give a fair comparison of the machines since the one I had initially reviewed was faulty. 

I can say however that the software for Silhouette is still my go to program.  It is easy to use and since I have learned how to do most things in Silhouette Studio, it is still my favorite. I love my Silhouette Cameo and will continue to use it. :) 

I hope everyone has a happy near year!  Happy Crafting! 

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