Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cricut Vs. Silhouette Cameo (Part 2....almost a year later)

It’s been about a year since I made the switch from the Cricut Expression to the Silhouette Cameo. I still LOVE my Silhouette and I still use it at least every other time I craft.

Since my original review back in March of 2012, I have made vinyl window clings, several hybrid cards, I’ve cut fabric, made holiday gift boxes, stencils, cut out my own handwriting as well as just simple die cuts. You can see a lot of my Silhouette projects here.

I am still using my original blade and I can still use my original mat, but I have “re-sticky’d” it one time. I do find that the Cricut Mats (the original ones with green border and white middle) work just fine in the Silhouette and at times I prefer the Cricut mat. I think it stays sticky longer, and I can get them easily at a number of local retailers.

My opinion remains. I choose the Silhouette Cameo over any of the Cricut machines. The Silhouette far out cuts the Cricut machines. The intricate detail of the cuts, the clean lines as well as the vast number of media the Silhouette will handle amazes me everytime I use it. This past weekend I cut out a pretty small detailed word and a few small elements out of glitter paper. The Silhouette cut all of it flawlessly. I could never get my Cricut to cut glitter paper without tearing.

I do a lot of printing and cutting of my own elements. As part of the creative design team at Jessica Sprague I have tons of digital elements which I use to create projects. The Silhouette software always opens the jpg, png, pdf files without a problem. I am able to resize, weld, stamp, etc the elements in the software, print and finally cut.

Designing your own elements is quite easy as well. That being said, you can almost find any shape, design, etc. you are looking for by doing a Google search and bringing that element into the software. I made my son a Cubs window sticker for his car, and a college logo sticker for my car and a Dallas Cowboys logo for someone else’s car just by Googling the images and cutting with the Silhouette.

There are no cartridges to keep buying. I do have a subscription to the Silhouette Store that costs me less than $15 a month and buys me $50 worth of shapes (I have never used my entire allowance in one month – it will roll over to the next month). I get a free shape every single week at the Silhouette store. I collect only images that I want and only images I think I will use, instead of a cartridge full of items that don’t fit my needs. If I am doing a specific project and think “I need a stop sign”, I just click on the store, search stop sign and within seconds I have it ready to use. I don’t have to run to the store to get an entire cartridge for the stop sign, I don’t have to stop my creative process – it’s right there at my fingertips. If I can’t find what I need in the store, I can Google stop sign, find a shape and import it into the software just as quickly.

My printer is always loaded and ready. I’ve had my Silhouette since the beginning of October 2011, I use the print and cut feature A LOT. I’ve only gone through one set of printer cartridges in that time frame. I also use my printer for many, many other things. You can also just CUT without printing using your stash of pretty papers and cardstock.

The Silhouette is also able to cut objects in layered pieces if you like to paper piece, or it can print/cut in one dimension.

The Silhouette Software vs. the Cricut Craftroom and/or the Gypsy. The software works somewhat similarly in both. If you are familiar with one, the other one will not be an issue for you. The options like cut, weld, delete, etc are pretty much the same. I think the Silhouette Studio Software offers several more options. I really like the feature that I can color the objects on my mat to match the color of card stock I want to use, so that when I am placing the papers on my mat I can easily remember which pieces cut in which color. This feature also comes in handy if you want a “preview” of what your layer color choices are going to look like when they are assembled (i.e. if you would like to cut a word and have the word cut in pink and the mat to cut in black you simple fill the letter on the screen with the appropriate color and then lay them on top of each other to see if you like that color combo before you waste your paper). Also, the ultra easy one button method which allows you to shadow/mat any image is great. The software for the Silhouette is 100% free. You can download it before you buy a Silhouette to experiment with and it comes with many free shapes.

The Silhouette is lighter, takes up less space, is easily transportable. You do need a computer to operate it, but there is an SD slot on the machine, which enables you to save your design to the card if you are going to a crop and don’t want to take your laptop. You cannot manipulate the image without a computer, but if you save it the way you want it, you can cut without a laptop.

Customer service at Silhouette America is amazing.  I have never heard or read a complaint about them.  I cannot say the same for Provocraft Customer Service.  My experience with Customer Service and Provocraft consisted of LONG Wait times, no response, multiple fixes.  I've not had any issues with my Silhouette, but have contacted them a few times with questions, I've always gotten timely responses by people who know their product.  I do not know of anyone who has had a return their Silhouette Cameo, or had a faulty one.  I know of several faulty Imagine Machines, Gypsy machines and several faulty mats with the Expressions.

As I said in my original review, I’ve owned two Expressions, the Gypsy, I had the original Cricut software, I had 75+ cartridges the last time I counted, I used the Cricut craftroom, I lived on the Cricut messageboard for a couple of years. My friends have Cricuts (Create, Expressions, Gypsy and the Imagine), if they asked me if they should switch, I’d say in a heartbeat!  

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