That is the question and here is my answer…..
I see and hear this asked all the time and it’s been on my to do list to give you my recommendation.
Now please realize that this post is all my own opinion, no one has paid me to do it and I don’t get anything as reimbursement for this post. I am speaking only as a cutting machine user for many years. There are many, many posts out there comparing the two machines and you can read until your eyes cross, but only you can make the choice on which one is for you. I have many friends who are Cricut users and I have many other friends who are die-hard Silhouette users, like me.
Did you catch those few little words…. I have many friends who are from both sides. No matter what machine you use, you can still be friends. I promise!
Some people have a better time with a certain machine than others. All I can tell you is from my own experience.
So a bit of background on me, the owner behind Silhouette Secrets+. I purchased my very first machine many, many moons ago. It was the original Cricut machine, or commonly called the baby Cricut. It can cut 6″x 12″ and was perfect for a new beginner scrapbooker as myself. I thought it was great that I wouldn’t have to purchase letter stickers anymore for my layouts. I actually used this machine so much that I burned it up… literally, it started smoking & shorted out – it had a good life though & was well used. I then purchased a Cricut Create machine and had also purchased the Design Studio (the original Design Studio – an offline, on your computer software program), which I became very proficient at using and could do a lot in…. however, I felt the software was very limited and was frustrated that it just wouldn’t do as I wanted. I still kept on with it, because I am just that way. If I needed a bigger machine, I would borrow a friends and just kept plugging away with my cartridges.
The friend I borrowed the Expression from had once told me that I should really check out this new machine called a Silhouette and she could see me doing great things with it. I looked it up & at that time just couldn’t afford spending that much on my hobby as a Stay at Home mom. (ever wish you could go back and choose another path – I would have bought a Silhouette machine sooner – lol and she wouldn’t be able to tell me I told you so)
Now fast-forward a few years, we’ve moved to California, I’ve purchased my own Cricut Expression and I win a Silhouette Portrait in a digital scrapbooking contest. Let me tell you, I was over the moon. I fell in love at first use. And I immediately told my husband that this small Portrait wasn’t enough, I needed the bigger Cameo machine. And I did, I turned around and bought it, it was a must have.
That was 5 years ago. There was hardly a bit of information out there on how to use it, how to do this or that in the program. If it was out there, I found it & studied it. I played, I learned, I created…. I played more, I learned more and I created more….. I still love it.
Now, there is lots & lots of information on how to use your machine & how to make projects with your machine… Sometimes I feel there is too much, but that’s a post for another day.
Now we’ve moved to Virginia and I’ve had the opportunity to add several things to my resume. I’ve been able to attend a hands on retreat with Terri Johnson & was able to attend to the first ever TJC Licensing event. I felt that since I was now teaching people how to use their machines, as a Terri Johnson Licensed Instructor, that I should also be able to speak a bit on the other machine out there…. so I purchased a Cricut Air. And let me tell you, for months I regretted it…. actually being honest… I still do. It was money I could have spent on supplies to create with….. but, I’m here to tell you why I think that.
So here are my Pros and Cons on the Cricut Explore Air.
- the Bluetooth connected quickly, very quickly – I learned the hard way that my computer was not equipped with a Bluetooth, so I did have to purchase a Dongle to get it to connect.
- it is much quieter when it’s cutting
- the purchased cut file I used worked beautifully
- Close to My Heart has Exclusive Cricut cartridges and they are AMAZING! Over 700 images on one cartridge. Now that is a great value!!!
- the cut file I used was 12 pages and it had no color designations by paper, so I had to eyeball it and get my papers in order to cut them
- the software to design & create your own designs is more difficult, it’s not just like other basic programs that you can use shortcuts and copy & paste, etc.
- it is only accessible online – did you get that? You have to have a high speed internet connection at all times to use the program. That means if you are at a retreat & the wifi is slow…. you won’t be able to use your Cricut machine. Hope you packed other stuff 🙂
- It will use up your data – something to keep in mind if you are limited to a certain amount of data each month, especially with the latest release of the DS3 software, it uses even more data than before
- they are doing away with physical cartridges, so you will have to access everything online through their software
- you can only save your designs to the Cricut program and if they are lost, they could be gone forever
- the Cricut freebies are only good for a limited time, then you have to purchase the file to use it – many don’t realize this until they try to cut something a week after it was a freebie
- I found it odd that after you’ve loaded the paper & clicked Go in the software, you then have to push Go on the machine itself…. I mean, really what is the point of the Bluetooth connection if you have to be within arms reach to get the machine to start cutting by pushing the button?
and now the Pros and Cons to the Silhouette machines:
- I can save my designs where ever I want them – my external hard drive is my safe place… but the point is… it’s my design, I can save it outside of the program – always remember to back up your files to an outside source as well
- there is a weekly freebie from the Silhouette store & I get to keep it in my Silhouette library forever, it’s FREE and it’s mine – they don’t take it away or make me pay for it – once I’ve downloaded it, it’s mine
- the software is very much like other software programs – Ctrl + C is copy & Ctrl +v is paste, hold down the Alt button and move an image and it copies it…. so many of the same software things I’m used to are the same in this program
- I can create my own designs within the program and they are mine.
- I can work OFFLINE – this is a BIG one for me. I can work anywhere I want that has electricity. If I plan to not have any internet access, I can plan ahead and download any designs that I might think I want. Or I can just work with what I have in my library, my external hard drive, or anything I can create. I love not being tied to the internet access because we all know that it can be unpredictable.
- You can upgrade your software to unlock additional features within the program – while some would disagree with me that it’s a pro, this is how I think of it. The Basic software is free to download for anyone. It is designed so you can cut any design within the Silhouette Design store easily. However, if you want to use an outside file such as an .svg file type, you would need to upgrade the software to allow it to open it. Much like an upgrade in a vehicle…. for it to do fancier stuff, you need to pay a fee for that.
- I only need to be connected to the internet if I want to download a design. I can work completely offline if I’d like to.
- it is louder than the Cricut – but it’s a machine, it’s moving & working – I’m ok with that
- the Bluetooth is still unreliable – I just find it’s much more efficient to plug it into my computer. While the idea of the Bluetooth is a nice feature, I can work around that.
So you are probably asking me “Why do you still have the Cricut? If you don’t like it, why keep it?”
Well there are a couple reasons:
- I tried to resell it. I couldn’t sell it for anything close to what I had invested in it. I didn’t even have one person interested.
- I am a Close to My Heart consultant as well as a TJC Silhouette Instructor – remember me saying you can have friends on both sides – well, I love the fact that CTMH has Cricut cuts that match the stamp sets… I don’t like to fussy cut around images and this is great. Their Cricut exclusive cartridges have over 700 images on them and I use those when I create with my Close to My Heart products and in my monthly card kits. (shhh don’t tell anyone…. I use my Silhouette too)
- What is 1 more cutting machine? I’m sure I don’t win the prize but I know you might ask or be curious….. I own…..
– an original Cricut (in craft heaven), a Cricut Create, an Expression, an Explore Air, a Silhouette Cameo 1, a Silhouette Cameo 3 and just recently (still in the box) a Silhouette Curio. So is 6 cutting machines too many? I guess that is up for each person to decide. Each one does serve a purpose and have some life left in them… I have 3 kids and someday I’ll let them use my older Cricuts when they have a project they need complete themselves.
Now, remember when I said I have Cricut friends and I have Silhouette friends….
well we can all still be crafty friends!!!
Tell me – which one are you? Team Cricut or Team Silhouette?
Whether you are Team Cricut or Team Silhouette, I encourage you to get that machine out and play with it. Create with it, cut with it, make projects with it. Learn one thing and then move on to the next. If you don’t like it, maybe you need to switch sides. You are investing in a machine & it should work for you. Have fun with your machine!!!
Again, please remember this is my own personal views on the machine as an owner & crafter for many years. I am sure that I didn’t mention several pros & cons of the machines & I’m sure that I will think of something as soon as I click on publish. If you think of one, just comment below – I would love to hear your thoughts.
I hope this post helps anyone who is wondering about the differences in the machines. Like I said before, each person is different and will have their reasons why they like a machine. If it works for you & you are using it, that is what matters.
Now, go enjoy your machine!
**Want to find out more on Terri Johnson retreats, Licensing events or find a Licensed Instructor near you, check out her blog HERE!
**Want to find out more on the CTMH Exclusive Cricut Cartridges with over 700 images on them – click HERE!