Ever since the Cricut Explore was released in January of this year, there has been a lot of back and forth between crafters, bloggers, and almost everyone else about which was now better – the perpetual, age old Cricut vs Silhouette debate. For years, Silhouette had won many hearts, but the Explore positioned Cricut for a comeback.
Personally, I own both machines, and take it from me: My silhouette has been packed away in storage since the day I received my Explore. Why? Because, simply put, the Cricut Explore is a much better machine. Here’s why:
#10 Noise Level
My silhouette was so loud that I would have to wait until my husbands show went on a commercial break to cut my project. No lie! It was obnoxiously loud. My Cricut Explore on the other hand, is whisper quiet, and I can cut anytime I want – even during the climax of a Sons of Anarchy episode without missing a word.
#9 Image Use
The Cricut Design Space allows you to upload jpgs, pngs, and svgs for free. That’s amazing! Do you know how many sites out there offer free SVG files?! Good luck trying to find a site that offers up free .studio files for the Silhouette! (Psst: If you can’t find what you need for free, the Cricut monthly subscription is only $9.99 and allows you access to their entire non-licensed library of images and fonts!) And yes, Silhouette just did allow you to upload SVG files – IF you pay the $49.99 designer software fee.
#8 User Friendly
The Cricut team made this machine so simple to use that even a non-crafter, a total newbie, or someone with very little technological experience could use the Cricut Explore without trouble. Seriously… you pick the image, load your mat, and press go. Your most difficult decision is deciding what to cut it out of, which leads me to my next point.
#7 Oh The Things You Can Cut!
Washi Tape sheets, balsa wood, leather, fabric, cork board – none of these pose a challenge for the almighty Cricut Explore. In fact, a recent study by an independent, third party lab pitted 3 Cricut Explores against 3 Silhouette Cameos. They had the machines cut 8 popular crafting mediums and rated the machines based on what they cut and how precisely they cut. The Cricut Explore almost ran a perfect 100% score! And the Silhouette? Well, I’m sad to say that poor guy only cut 1 out the 8 materials.
#6 Print and Cut, Baby!
When the Explore was first released in January, the only possible “leg up” I could offer Silhouette was it’s print and cut capability, as inconsistent as it was. However, I knew Cricut was working on a print and cut functionality and so I bided my time, waiting for it to be released, waiting for the day to come when I would no longer have to cut 50 labels that I designed in photoshop for party favor bags. Finally the day came, and let me tell you – I have never had a problem with my Print and Cut. It has been precise and exact every single time. The addition of this feature now allowed the Cricut Explore to claim the title of absolute best cutting machine in my mind, no reservations held.
#5 Wireless and iPad Capability
The Silhouette does not have any wireless capability. It does not have an iPad app. You cannot enjoy a nice latte at starbucks and design your next Silhouette project. You CAN however, in January, enjoy a latte and work on your next Cricut Explore project – right on your iPad. And when you get home, or wherever your Cricut Explore is, you can hit that shiny green GO button right from your iPad – no wired connection required. Love it!
The Cricut Explore has two holders in the cutting mechanism. They have even labelled them conveniently so that you never forget – “A” for accessory, and “B” for blade. An accessory could be one of the amazing writing pens (I love the colors on these, and often use them for hand writing on cards!) or the scoring tool. If your project requires a cut and a score, or a cut and a doodle, you only have to put the mat through once! It will complete both actions in one sweep through. Pretty cool right? Anything that saves me time is a major point earner!
#3 Smart Set Dial
I can’t say enough about this Smart Set Dial. With my Silhouette, I often found myself having to tamper with the settings a bit. The cardstock setting wouldn’t always be perfect for example, so I would have to alter the depth or speed of a cut manually, and that really hurt my head. It was a lot of technical thinking that wasn’t my strong suit. I still don’t understand the functions behind those words depth and speed.
However, with the Smart Set Dial, my cuts have been accurate and precise every single time. If I want to cut Vinyl, I select vinyl, and BAM! It cuts my vinyl. If my vinyl is a little thicker than regular vinyl (take for instance glitter vinyl), it’s still no problem – I simply select the Vinyl + setting. The same goes for cardstock, fabric, and a whole host of other popular crafting mediums. Want to cut something not listed on the Smart Set Dial? Select Custom and the Design Space will walk you through picking the correct setting!
#2 Built in Storage
I love that the team who developed the Cricut Explore thought of everything. They didn’t just think of the technical things but they thought of how the machine could be designed to make the workspace itself more functional. The Cricut Explore has three built in storage compartments – two inside the front lid for blades and tools, and a little bin on the top left for things like pens. I also keep my scoring pen and my weeding hook there because I use them so frequently. And the little feet on the bottom? There is just enough space between them to slide your mat through so it sits underneath the machine. See, didn’t I tell you they thought of everything?
I saved this one for last, because even if you took away every other reason I gave you above, and only left this one, I would still choose my Cricut Explore over my Silhouette Cameo. The blade is that exceptional. I received my machine in February of this year – which means I have been using it for roughly 10 months. I am still on my original blade. Do you know how often I changed my blade on the Silhouette?
About 4x a year. I could be guaranteed that after every party I threw, I would need a new Silhouette blade. This Explore’s blade has seen me through 4 parties and is still going strong. It’s hard to say exactly how much I use my machine, but it is about the same amount (or more) than I would have used my Silhouette in the previous year. That means that I am getting at least 4x more use out of my Cricut Explore blade. That is a huge difference, and with the price of blades, one that sells me on the Cricut Explore.
But hey, don’t take my word for it. The internet is singing the praises aloud of the Cricut Explore. I haven’t read one article yet that said the Explore was inferior to the Silhouette – not one! And plus, there is that Percept Labs study that I was telling you about earlier, where it was proven that the Cricut Explore cuts more materials more accurately than the Silhouette.
So if you’re thinking of buying a cutting machine for yourself or someone special this Christmas, do yourself a favor and invest your money where you will see the biggest benefit – and that, I can say wholeheartedly without any doubt, is with the Cricut Explore.