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Over the summer of 2016 I did something pretty radical, at least for me– After spending three years working with my Silhouette Portrait, I switched to the Cricut Explore Air™ machine I know that some people who knew me were confused about my switch. Mellow Man, my husband, was confused. He didn’t get why I had another machine that did something nearly identical. Given his confusion, and then the Big One asking why I had a new machine next to my desk. That got me to thinking that maybe others might be interested in why I switched to the Cricut Explore Air.
When my Cricut Explore Air first arrived in the mail, I was quite attached to my Silhouette Portrait, and I wasn’t sure if I would like the Cricut. It sat in its box for a few weeks, and I felt conflicted. And a little disloyal. My Portrait had allowed me to create some wonderful things over 3 years, and I still do think that the Silhouette has a solid line of cutting machines or crafters. However after 6+ months of use, I feel like I can honestly share the reasons that I am a loyal Cricut user, and the things that I miss about the Silhouette are very minor when I compare the best features of the Cricut with the slight advantages of the Silhouette.
The Best Things about the Cricut
Ease of Use: The Cricut Explore line of products require less work to get up and running. You don’t need to remove the blades and make adjustments, or look things up to find out what depth of cut you should use. All of those nuances are programmed into the machine. What that means for me is that I never waste product because the blade wasn’t at the right depth.
That being said, I know that the Silhouette Cameo 3 has made a number of advancements in the setting adjustments, but I haven’t used that machine. The entire Cricut Explore line requires no blade adjusment, and has a clearly marked dial to guide you when you selecting your materials.
It is so easy to use that my 4-year-old likes to help me. He knows about turning the dial, pressing the arrow buttons, and then pressing the little Cricut face. He decided to help me recently make my basketball mom shirt.
Importing Your Own Images: With Cricut Explore and Design Space, you do not need any special software to be able to convert a PDF or SVG file into a cuttable image. While you are able to do this with the Silhouette, it requires a software upgrade at an additional cost. What this means is that when I want to use an image that I find elsewhere online, I can do everything within Design Space.
Cricut Access: With Cricut Access, I get access to many images and fonts at one low monthly or yearly price. This is really a great option rather than having to pay for an image that you may only use once or twice. Plus you get lots of great fonts. That being said, if you want specially licensed images, like the ones that I used for my Frozen Ornaments , you can purchase them.
Product Line: I like the quality of the Cricut product line better. I like the fact that there are 3 different grip strengths for the mats, and that there are 4 different sized mats, ranging from a card size to a giant 12″x24″ mat. (NB: The two smallest mats only come in regular grip strength.) I also really, really love the Cricut vinyl and Iron-On (HTV) Vinyl. I have never successfully made a shirt with the Silhouette smooth HTV, but I had no problem doing a complex design in the Iron-On Lite and Glitter Iron-On by Cricut.
Customer Service: This is a huge deal for me. The quality of customer service is probably the number one factor for me in terms of customer loyalty. Is the company going to be there to support you? The team at Cricut is incredible and creative and willing to help you troubleshoot. I have been blown away by their level of commitment and dedication to their company and their product.
How the Silhouette Beats the Cricut Explore
While I have made my own choice, and am thoroughly impressed with the Cricut Explore, I do want to point out there are a couple of advantages to the Silhouette family of products.
Sophistication of Software If you are willing to buy the higher end Designer Edition software for Silhouette, you will find that there are more functions and options that are lacking in Cricut Design Space. I have Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, so if I need to do something too fancy, I can hop over into that line of software. However, honestly, while Cricut Design Space is so easy for novice user to get up and cutting, it can feel more limiting that the Designer Edition of Silhouette Studio.
For example, in my recent post about making a Goldfish Snacks Jar, I was able to curve my text around the Goldfish, but the wrapping wasn’t automatic.
I understand that a new version of Design Space is going to be released some time in 2017, so hopefully there will be a greater range of editing options in Design Space.
Vinyl Roll Feeder: While overall, I love the Cricut line of products, I do envy the advantages of the Vinyl Roll Feeder, and not having to use a mat. There are times when I would rather not have to estimate how much vinyl to cut off of a roll, and the Silhouette Roll Feeder solves that problem.
At the end of the day when I was comparing the two cutting machines, the two biggest factors in deciding to permanently switch to the Cricut Explore for me was the ease of use of the machine and software package, and the incredible customer service. I really want crafting to be a creative outlet with limited frustration, and I found that I could do everything (and more) with the Cricut Explore Air with less hassle and greater customer support from the company. What’s more is that I don’t think I’m alone in coming to this conclusion. If you want to know what other creative bloggers think, I encourage you to check out these other posts from my fellow Cricut bloggers who also did a comparison, or wrote about why they love their Cricut:
Comparing the Explore Air 2 & the Cameo 3 – PMQ for two
5 Reasons Why I Traded My Silhouette Cameo for The Cricut Explore Air – Tastefully Frugal
Why I replaced My Silhouette Cameo with a Cricut Explore Air – The Quiet Grove
Silhouette Cameo VS. Cricut Explore Air – It Happens In A Blink
Why I love my Cricut Explore – Crafting In The Rain
Why I Switched from a Silhouette to a Cricut Explore Air – Housewife Eclectic
Cricut vs. Silhouette: Why the Cricut Explore Continually Wins – Becoming Martha
Top 10 Reasons why I love my Cricut Explore – Brooklyn Berry Designs
Now, if you want to win a Cricut Explore Air 2 of your very own follow the rules on the rafflecopter below! The contest runs from January 18th to January 25th. The winner will be notified within 24hrs after the contest closes.