Monday, August 4, 2014

Cricut Explore Review

I recently purchased the new Cricut Explore and want to share my thoughts with you. This will be a lengthy post, so please grab a beverage and read on.

As most of you know, in the early days of this blog, I was predominately a Cricut blog. I own most of the Cricut machines, including the Imagine, E2, the original Baby Bug, and the Expression. In addition, I was a design team member on Tammy Skinner’s Imagine blog and was a guest designer on Everyday Cricut. I even filmed several Cricut how-to videos including some of the first Imagine videos. Also, I was an original Cricut Circle member.

Then I purchased my Silhouette, and it was love at first cut. I loved, and yes, love is a strong word, the intricate cutting ability, the amazing and robust software, how easy it cut text weight card stock and the print and cut feature. After using the Cameo for a period of time, I became a Silhouette Blog. Now I am an affiliate with Silhouette and have the pleasure of giving away Silhouette machines to my viewers. Whew, full disclosure takes a long time to write, but I want you all to know my history and biases.

Now for the Cricut Explore Review. The pros and cons are based on my personal opinion and observations only. The machine that best fits your needs is the machine you will want to choose.

Cons:

I really miss having an offset function so I can make an internal or external offset (shadow) for every image and font. If you want to compare the software for yourself, please download the Silhouette Software for free here. Click here to download the free Cricut Design Space software. You do not have to own a machine to try the software. Be sure to let me know what you think of both software packages in comments.

Another concern is that it is hard to ungroup all images and remove or edit pieces that you don’t need. You can use the hide contour function and ungroup or detach some of the images, but it is more difficult and time consuming than using the ungroup, remove compound paths or erase function in Silhouette Studio. In fact, on some of the older Cricut images, I believe you still cannot remove the tick marks.

There is no knife tool and SVG files are not imported at their native size, requiring you to resize them, which takes additional time. Click here to see a video from SVG Cuts on using Cricut Design Space with SVG files. Also there are no alignment functions, replicate right or left functions, and no ability to edit the nodes of a design.

Since Cricut Design Space loads from the cloud rather than your hard drive, the software at times can be slow to respond and sometimes there is a lag between loading the mat and cutting. I really appreciate the convenience of a cloud based system, but prefer the speed of the Silhouette Studio software which runs from my hard drive. I like the fact that my Silhouette files are stored on my computer. We have a high speed internet connection, and Cricut Design Space still lags occasionally so the problem does not appear to be at our end.

Another concern is the lack of current ability to do print and cut. Print and cut is the ability to print a graphic on your printer and have the machine cut out the graphic for you. I frequently use this function on my Cameo and have made several videos on how to use it. I enjoy being able to purchase digital paper and flood fill and cut my images. Cricut plans to have this ability by the end of the September and as soon as the software update is available, I will do a review and share with all of you. I can’t wait to give it a try so please stay tuned!

I have tons of Cricut Cartridges and love them, but I would really like to see more design variety and trendier images. One of my favorite features of the Silhouette on-line store is that you have over 80 different designers to choose from, which enables you to find a designer that matches your style. The addition of Anna Griffin art and Make-It-Now projects gives Cricut more variety. In fact, that is one of the reasons that I purchased the Explore. I love Anna!

Now for the Pros

The cutting ability of the Explore is greatly improved over previous Cricut models. It is comparable to the Silhouette Cameo and I am happy to see that the new Explore cleanly cuts very intricate designs, uniform circles and is easy to use!

The big pro for me is the ability to cut and score an image using the Explore. I am not a fan of tick marks, cut score lines or kiss cut score lines and love this function!

The write-and-cut in one step is also a time saving feature that works well!

I enjoy being able to select an image with Cricut Design Space and the layers are automatically separated into their own mats. The easy machine settings are another plus. You only have to adjust your blade when using the new deep cut blade not for each type of paper or media.

The tool storage is a great add-on feature and I like the Make-it-Now projects. These are projects that you literally can make-it-now. Super fast and super easy!

Another pro is that I can purchase a monthly subscription for $9.99 or an annual subscription for $99.00 and get unlimited access to over 25,000 Cricut Images and more than 200 fonts.

I just ordered the wireless adapter and can’t wait to try it with my iPad. I will do an update to this post once I have used it.

Summary:

My favorite go-to machine remains the Silhouette Cameo. It has all the features, designers and robust software that I love and more. The software is wonderful and I love all the functionality. However, I also enjoy many of the features of the Explore, and believe there is room in my life for two machines. I consider myself extremely fortunate to own them both. I will be using both machines as I move forward with my blog. Let me know your thoughts in comments and sorry for such a long post without photos. Be sure to stop back Wednesday to see a card that I made using the Explore.

19 comments:

Crafting Katie said...

Thank you for this great review, Linda. I've been a little interested in the Explore, but after reading your review, I can see that I don't really need it. You saved me money!

Kirk and Melanie said...

Thanks so much for your review. I subscribed to your blog when you were still Cricutting, and I was just about to unsubscribe because I don't own a Silhouette. I don't own an Explore either because I have been waiting for people like you, who have experienced both, to give their feedback. I'll keep watching what you have to say. Thanks for trying new things and sharing them.

Scrappy Pink Corner said...

Hi Linda. I have both the machine, but still have not used my silhouette. I love the explore and have made beautiful cuts with it and very intricate cuts. SOmething that the silhouette did not do for others that made the same layout. I am not in any shape or form putting down the silhouette since I have never used it, but I have always been a cricut girl and for now will probably remain one. Thank you for this wonderful review. Your posts are always the best when doing reviews. Can't wait to see what you have created with the explore. Ana

Coelle said...

Linda, as always your reviews are very professional. I also have both the Cricut Explore (3 weeks old) and the Silhouette Cameo. I took a couple of classes from Kerri Bradford on the Designer software with Silhouette and found them to be complex and cumbersome ...shortcut keys that weren't standard to Microsoft shortcuts I was so used to. I spent over 20 yrs support MS software so I'm not that technically challenged, but found Silhouette software to be very proprietary. I also found the Cameo to be very noisy when cutting...I ended up using it mostly for the 'write' function.

In the 3 weeks I've had the Explore, I LOVE it...just love the write and cut function...the ability to use pens other than ones sold by Cricut...just wrote with the Crayola fine tipped markers that I got at Target. Also that ability to score and cut at the same time. I'm learning the software and have found the FB groups so helpful and it seems so much easier to learn and to manipulate images as well as to turn off images to cut by just clicking on the 'eyes'...LOVE IT!

Kate (Small Bits of Paper) said...

Hi Linda!

Thanks so much for your great review. I have had a number of Cricut machines in the past and finally decided to get a Cameo this winter - and fell in love immediately!! Part of my original hesitation stemmed from the fact that I have a lot of money already invested with Cricut, especially with too many cartridges to count. Imagine my dismay when, after only about a month with my new Cameo, I learned about the Explore. I did try out the Cricut software and, like you, am not as thrilled with it as I am with the Silhouette software. (By the way, I didn't know that I could download Silhouette software for free. I'm hoping this means I can use the software on other computers so I can design on more than just my laptop. LOVE that idea.) Anyway, I played around with Cricut Design Space because I was determined to figure out a way to cut my Cricut cartridges using my Silhouette. Once I discovered the way, I see no reason to invest in the Explore - at least not for my current needs. I still enjoy reading reviews to see if there is anything I am missing so appreciate the time you took to write yours. Thank you!

Kate

Brenda said...

Thanks for doing this honest review Linda. I have been wondering what the pros and cons are and I knew there had to be some cons, just I just hadn't heard any yet. I love your honesty and it lets people decided what machine is for them. I have to say that I've been tempted a little by the Explore, but just couldn't seem to commit to one. I can see that I don't want one right now, maybe in my future, but not now and maybe not ever. But I liked having info to help me make that decision. Hugs, Brenda

D- said...

Thank you so much for the review.
My Cricuts: E2, 2-Es and an Original.
My Silhouette: Portrait {thanks to you and Silhouette}
My CON with the Explore is the requirement to link my cartridges to use it.
I only have room in for two machines to be out at a time in my craft space so having a Cricut that can't cut straight from a cartridge just won't work for me.
As you probably guessed I do not want to link my cartridges.
Crafty hugs,
D~
DesignsByDragonfly.blogspot

Coelle said...

A quick response to one of the comments about not wanting to link their cartridges. Because I used the Cricut Craft Room with my Expression, when I got my Explore and logged into Design Space, all of my cartridges were already linked. I had to do nothing to link them. And when purchasing a new cartridge, the link process seemed to be so much easier, quicker than what I went through with the CCR and the Expression. Love the Explore!

Mom of 2 Monsters said...

That you for this very honest and true review about the Explore. I have been really hesitant about making this purchase mainly because I too own all the cricuts and the cameo and cannot justify purchasing another machine.

For now, I will stick with Cameo since the cutting on that machine has been flawless for me. I will wait to see the print and cut function to work before I think about the Explore.

Anonymous said...

almost never get a clean cut with my silhouette. puzzled

Anonymous said...

I am usually all over the Internet before I make a purchase. However, I bought the Cricut Explore Air on Saturday and returned it on Monday, and I couldn't get to the store fast enough to get rid of it. I have used Illustrator, Photoshop, Sure Cuts A lot and some other graphic programs. I wanted it to work because of what it claimed it could cut. But the software should not have the word "design" in it. It is horrible IMO and has several glitches in it that I am not so sure I want to trust Provocraft to take care of. Their support is MIA at nights and on the weekends...Hey folks, if a company is going 100% cloud based they need the proper support and Provocraft doesn't make the cut....no pun intended

running with scissors said...

Okay so..... I only thought I was confused before. What would you recommend for a beginner if they wanted to cut things of their own design plus things that are provided. Online and off?

running with scissors said...

Okay so..... I only thought I was confused before. What would you recommend for a beginner if they wanted to cut things of their own design plus things that are provided. Online and off?

LJP said...

New to cricut. Got the Explore and LOVE it. Nice not to need cartridges. They add more & more to design space all the time. Latest updates very nice too .Wish I had more time ro play !

LJP said...

New to cricut. Got the Explore and LOVE it. Nice not to need cartridges. They add more & more to design space all the time. Latest updates very nice too .Wish I had more time ro play !

Anonymous said...

I have the new Explore and so far disappointed in its functions. I was under the impression that I could I plod my own images from my IPad. Not the case at all. The Design Space doesn't have the left hand side icons needed to perform that function using the IPad. Another thing is, that I had noticed some reviews stating that there is an A and B clamp for writing and cutting. Mine only came with the one clamp. How do you get the two clamps? So far it takes a long time to create just a simple card. Not sure if I'm going to like this machine.

Anonymous said...

I have the new Explore and so far disappointed in its functions. I was under the impression that I could I upload my own images from my IPad. Not the case at all. The Design Space doesn't have the left hand side icons needed to perform that function using the IPad. Another thing is, that I had noticed some reviews stating that there is an A and B clamp for writing and cutting. Mine only came with the one clamp. How do you get the two clamps? So far it takes a long time to create just a simple card. Not sure if I'm going to like this machine.

Robert Webb said...

I just got a Cricut Explore and the major problem I have is that the cuts and scores aren't aligned. They are off by about 1mm, even when doing cuts and scores in a single pass without unloading the mat.

Does this not happen to you?

I'll be making 3D models that require great accuracy in their parts, so this is a deal-breaker for me.

Thanks,
Rob.

Anonymous said...

Major regrets of leaving Silhouette and moving to Cricut. The Cricut Design software and Cricut store/subscriptions are HORRIBLE. I might could overlook the bad money pit of a subscription service that leaves you with NOTHING when you stop, but the lacking design software is a deal breaker. It is just awful. If I'd never owned a Silhouette I may not know better, but there is no way you can design with Silhouette and then move to this. It is like going 10 giant steps backwards.

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