Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Silhouette Cameo vs. Cricut Expression Review

** Since the review below, the Cricut Explore has been released.  Refer to this post to see my opinion of the New Cricut Explore and the New Cricut Customer Service experience.

As a few of you know, I sold the Cricut and bought the new Silhouette Cameo.  I haven't regretted my decision one bit.  I love the Silhouette and everything about it.   I've been asked a few times now why I made the switch to the Cameo so I thought I'd write my own personal review and observations.

1.  I rarely used my Cricut.  I had over 70 cartridges and yet never felt inspired to use it.  I don't know if it was just overwhelming knowing what image is on what cartridge, then thumbing through the books and finding the image I wanted and so on, or if it was because, in my opinion, the Cricut cartridges are extremely "cutesey" and juvenile (which is great if you have little ones - but I don't), and I also thought the cartridges had so many of the same images... how many butterflies, flowers, owls, birds do we need?  

2.  Cricut cartridges are expensive and they release cartridge after cartridge.  I found myself buying a $45+ cartridge because I saw a card with a cute snowman that happened to be on that one certain cartridge... and that would be the ONLY image I used (if I even made it that far).

3.  Silhouette offers so many options for images.  A) you can buy them from the Silhouette Store - you can buy JUST that ONE image you want and if you are a subscriber (more or that later) they are very cheap, sometimes 50 cents each); B) you can use any .png image, .jpg, .svg, etc... any image you have on your computer you can print and cut on the Silhouette.  C) There are a lot of great Silhouette people who create and share awesome cut files

4.  Silhouette subscriptions:  Silhouette offers subscriptions meaning that for about $13 a month I get $50 worth of images from the Silhouette store.  That's a lot of amazing images by super incredible designers like Hero Arts, Samantha Walker, SEI, Lori Whitlock, Echo park (just to name a few).  They offer other subscriptions packages (I chose the middle of the road package).  They also give away one free shape every week and there is always a clearance section where you can find great deals.  If you don't use your allowance one month, it rolls over to the next and to top it off, each week there are dozens of new images.

5.  Silhouette images can be cut in one dimension or you can cut them in layers and paper piece them together.  I love that option and have used the Silhouette with both methods.

6.  The Silhouette has a print and cut feature, which is not to be confused with say the Cricut Imagine which cuts and prints from the same machine - with the Silhouette you print it with your printer, load it on your Silhouette mat and cut it with the Silhouette.  The image from your printer prints "registration marks" and that tells the Silhouette where the image is on your mat so that it can cut it.

7.  Making layers, shadows, mats, etc is super simple on the Silhouette.  You can cut ANY FONT on your computer with the Silhouette.  EASY PEASY!  Love that feature.

8.  The Silhouette cuts so intricately compared to the Cricut.  Just look at this card wrap I cut out.  My Cricut would have torn the paper up cutting that detailing.
9.  Silhouette Customer Service is unbelievable.  I got my Silhouette on the weekend and had a few newbie questions and guess what... they responded OVER THE WEEKEND!  They know their product and even followed up to make sure I was taken care of.  AMAZING!  By the way, I had no trouble setting it up nor did I have any trouble with the machine, I only called because I was loading the mat with the wrong button (Operator error).  ** (See above revision)

10.  In favor of the cricut is the fact that it can cut chipboard.  I have read the Silhouette will cut thin chipboard, but I have not tried it.

12.  I have an extensive collection of digital images, digital papers, etc due to my position on the design team at at Jessica Sprague, I also am well versed in Photoshop, both of these items make the Silhouette a perfect fit for me.

12.  Space wise they are close the same size. in length.  The Silhouette is lighter and there are no cartridges to store.  I keep my Silhouette on my computer desk.

If you're on the fence and trying to decide, I hope this review helped you see why I love the Silhouette and Why it works for me.  I think the Cricut is a great machine as well.  I owned two Expressions, the Gypsy and plenty of cartridges.  I am inspired by my Silhouette, it's just a better fit for me.

By the way... Jessica Sprague just announced yesterday that she is now offering a Silhouette Class for beginners.  I highly suggest any class Jessica offers as they are #1 quality.  Everything I know about Digital Scrapbooking, Photoshop, Photography, etc, I learned from one of her classes.  If you're interested, go check it out: Silhouette: Getting to know you

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