Silhouette vs. Cricut? Learn the pros & cons of the Silhouette Cameo vs. Cricut Explore and decide once and for all which cutting machine is best for you!
Review of The Silhouette CAMEO
How easy is the Silhouette design software to use?
Silhouette Studio is software that you download to your device in order to use. I was surprised that I found the Silhouette Studio software easy to use, because a lot of people think it’s super confusing. I found it to be a powerful software that allowed me to either buy or create my own designs from scratch. But note, if you want to use your own .svg files, you will have to pay to upgrade the software to the “Designer” version (I believe it costs $50 to upgrade). That said, most people will be just fine with the free software and will find that there are tons of great images in the library to purchase at very low prices.
I personally find that the images available in Silhouette Studio are a bit more professional looking than those in theCricut Design Space, though I think Cricut is definitely catching up to Silhouette Studio in that regard. You can also easily type on a curved path in Silhouette Studio–at the time of writing this post, that feature is lacking in Cricut Design Space.
How well does the Silhouette Cameo machine cut?
Depends on what kind of mood your machine is in 🙂 All kidding aside, I found that I got unpredictable results when cutting with my Silhouette Cameo.
I encountered most of my issues when cutting long lengths of vinyl, which is supposed to be one of the BEST features of a Silhouette. You see, Silhouette encourages users to load vinyl up to 10 feet long into their cutting machine without a cutting mat–it’s called “matless cutting.” And that is a super, super cool idea in theory, right? I mean, you can create a huge design and produce it by only loading your vinyl once and sending through one cut job?! Sounds great, but it just doesn’t work that way.
First of all, it’s darn near impossible to easily load vinyl directly into the Silhouette Cameo. Because the vinyl comes in a roll, the end that you need to load is by definition curled under, which causes it to easily and repeatedly jam while you are trying to load it. Even if you can manage to get it loaded on the first try, you almost always have to manually straighten it.
But the biggest problem is that the vinyl slips during cutting even when your rollers are correctly positioned and you have followed all directions perfectly. Y’all, I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to unload a 6 foot length of vinyl only to discover that it slipped during cutting. When it slips, your cut lines get all wonky and your cut job is ruined. Wasted time. Wasted vinyl. Wasted money. It’s not fun.
What is the cost of a Silhouette Cameo?
The Silhouette Cameo currently retails for around $299. You can sometimes find it on sale.
Review of Cricut Explore
How easy is the Cricut design software to use?
I’ll admit… It was really hard for me to get used to the Cricut design software. I’m not sure if it’s because I was so used to the Silhouette Studio, but I did get a little frustrated when I first started using Cricut Design Space. One of the frustrations came from the fact that it relied on Adobe Flash, but fortunately the brand new Cricut Design Space has eliminated that issue! YAY!
That said, as I mentioned earlier in this post MOST PEOPLE find the Cricut Design Space software is easier and more simple to use compared to Silhouette Studio software. And I think if I had started in Cricut Design Space, I wouldn’t have struggled with it at all. But I was so used to Silhouette Studio (and you know the saying… It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks) I found that it had a bit of a learning curved that I didn’t totally expect.
Now that I’ve gotten used to Cricut Design Space, I find it incredibly easy to use and think it’s perfect for people who want to create simple designs and won’t be creating custom designs from scratch.
How well does the Cricut Explore machine cut?
Like. A. Dream. Seriously, y’all. The Cricut Explore shocked me. The cuts are quieter, faster and so much cleaner. I didn’t realize how often I had to clean up the edges of my Silhouette cuts until I used my Cricut Explore. I find the cuts on all materials I have used it on so far (card stock, vinyl and chipboard) to be perfect. I really was shocked by the difference in the precision of the cuts between my Cricut vs. Silhouette.
Now, as we discussed above, you can cut lengths of up to 10 feet using a Silhouette Cameo (both machines cut materials up to 12″ wide). But with the Cricut, you can only cut materials up to 2 feet long. AND you have to use a cutting mat to cut vinyl. Initially, I was super bummed and viewed this as a huge drawback. *Note: The Cricut Explore 3 now has a greater cutting capacity of up to 13″ x 12′ when using Cricut Smart Materials.
But then I cut my first large vinyl project using my Cricut Explore and now I get it. I get why you should only WANT to cut vinyl with a mat and in sections only 2 feet long at a time.
What is the cost of a Cricut Explore?
The Cricut Explore Air 2 (which is the machine I have) retails for around $179. The Cricut Explore Air 3, which is the newest version, retails for around $299. You can sometimes find it on sale.
Which machine wins? Cricut Explore or Silhouette Cameo?
For me, the clear winner is the Cricut, especially now that I have gotten used to the Cricut Design Space. The machine is sturdier, stronger and performs better. And for the vast majority of users, Cricut Design Space is far more user friendly and will fit their needs perfectly. Even if the machines were totally equal in performance (which I don’t feel they are), I would STILL choose and recommend Cricut over Silhouette to 99% of people because of the design software.
The only time I can imagine I would recommend a Silhouette to someone over a Cricut is if they want to create custom designs AND do not have access to external design software (like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, etc.). That is going to be a teeny, tiny percentage of users and they may have to settle for a sub-par cutting machine in order to meet their design software needs.
If you are thinking a Cricut is the right brand for you, but get stuck after that, fear not! Check out my post on which Cricut machine is right for you–it will help you choose between the Cricut Explore, Cricut Maker and Cricut Joy!
That said, I find that most people who like to design graphics (myself included) already use external software (I use Illustrator), making the best option Cricut Design Space since you can upload custom .svg files without having to pay to upgrade software. So if you really want to be able to create designs from scratch AND you want the best machine, I’d recommend using an external design software so that you can upload your custom designs into the Cricut Design Space. That’s really the best of all worlds!
For more information about Cricut visit: Cricut Help Center
For more information about Silhouette Cameo visit: Silhouette America Help