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605 of 619 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cricut Expression vs. Personal vs. Making Memories Slice vs. Explore
Expression vs. Slice
There is no comparison - if you can only get 1 machine get the expression - it's worth the extra money...why?
I have the Slice - that was my first machine (I got it 2 weeks ago) only because it had the designs I wanted (tags) and also had some cool accessories and it's my first die cut machine. You have to hold it down to use it, there...
Published on November 29, 2009 by riry

versus
1,298 of 1,345 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cricut Expression 2 versus Silhouette Cameo
I am writing this review from the perspective of a comparison between the Cricut Expression 2 and the Silhouette Cameo. My review is also approaching the application of these machines from a more industrial perspective, NOT from and arts & crafts perspective. In other words, what applications can inexpensive computer-controlled cutting machines be put to outside of the...
Published on January 10, 2012 by P. Schmidt


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605 of 619 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cricut Expression vs. Personal vs. Making Memories Slice vs. Explore, November 29, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Expression vs. Slice
There is no comparison - if you can only get 1 machine get the expression - it's worth the extra money...why?
I have the Slice - that was my first machine (I got it 2 weeks ago) only because it had the designs I wanted (tags) and also had some cool accessories and it's my first die cut machine. You have to hold it down to use it, there aren't that many cartridges and if you wait for sales - they are both about the same $. If you need a machine to cut a couple of things here and there and go for the slice. (Read my Slice review for more details).

Expression vs. Personal
The personal cricut only cuts to 5.5" - and it's pretty much like the Slice - around the same price point as well. It does NOT compare with the capabilities of the Expression. Expression cuts in larger sizes, more feature - the LCD screen is more detailed, it's a far more sophisticated machine (think of composition notebook vs. laptop) - also spoke with a cricut user at a store - she said that the Personal wastes a lot of paper

Expression vs. Sizzix - I didn't even really look at the Sizzix, I get they're cheaper, and they have a lot of cartridges and they're cheaper...there's a reason why the machine and cartridges are cheaper - they're VERY BASIC (it's like comparing 3rd grade education to graduate school), reviews on the Sizzix weren't very "WOW" and if I'm going to invest $$ - I rather get something WOW - the functionality and capabilities of Cricut products (even the personal) is far superior than the Sizzix

Expression Features that makes this machine SUPERIOR:
Cuts 1/4" - 23.5 inches (most machines cut from 1/2" and at 1/2" increments - this is 1/8" increments - and about 7" max)
Cartridges - very intricate shapes - when you find them on sale - it's WORTH IT! Plus they have the licensed shapes (Spongebob, Dora, Hello Kitty, Disney...)
Each cartridge seems to hold ALOT of options and information. There are so many varieties
Layering options available (exp - trees - it will cut the "bark" then i set another option to cut the individual leaves - a little bit of spray adhesive and tweezers, BAM - I have a fully functional colored tree)
Design is clean, tight and slim, it's very light and portable (not that I intend on schlepping it, but if I had to, I will)
you can leave it - program and walk away

What I wish came with the machine:
For the $$ - There should have been extra blades + 12" x 24" mat (it can cut up to that, so why no mat?) + spatula!
It seems really silly to nickel & dime customers for equipment they need to make the machine useful - I have a spatula from my Slice tool kit (slice doesn't include that either)

What I've done/thoughts so far (I've only had it for 2 days):
AWESOME - I can program what I want it to cut and walk away! with the Slice, I have to hold the machine in place.
SPEEDY!! It might be worthwhile to buy an extra mat anyways to load your next set of media while you're removing it off the first mat. (This would be important if you're into efficiency)
MUST read directions of the machine first! Then load the cartridge and read those directions! YOU HAVE TO SET ASIDE A SOLID HOUR OF FOCUS TO USE THIS MACHINE! There are so many functions/features you don't want to miss anything.
Had I read the directions first i'd figure out how to load the paper. It's aligned on the bottom left corner (DUR)
You can use ANY size paper as long as it's 3" x 3" - just set the paper size and it'll know and plan for you to minimize waste
Cardstock set blade at 3 - pressure at medium - speed (doesn't really matter)
Paper - set blade at 1 - pressure low - speed (doesn't really matter)
Foam (set blade at 6 - pressure max - speed SLOW) I feel like I need the deep cut blade (another accessory) - the cuts aren't very clean but it works (I'm using the "Printing 101" Cartridge - making alpha puzzle pieces to teach my kiddo letters)
Speed - the slower the better it seems like but for thinner media it doesn't matter
Make sure to have enough table space - you'll need space behind the machine for the feeder

Projects in the future:
Definitely making cards!
More foam shapes (Spongebob cartridge) - and letters
Cardstock animals to teach my kiddo (same with food / etc). (Animal Kingdom Cartridge)
I want to try to use other medium - fabric, adhesive, magnetic sheets, stamp, embossing
I want to get the design software to make my own "cuts"
Helping my kiddos with their school project - making adhesives to stick on walls
Getting sticky textured cardstock to make our own "stickers"

FINAL THOUGHTS:
If you get Expression - Buy spatula (unless you already have one)
If you plan on doing projects larger than 12" buy the 12" x 24" mat
Buy an extra set of mats anyways - it'll help keep your machine cutting while you're working =)
Get a set of replacement blades if you intend on using this machine ASAP and ALOT (I've cut 9 foam sheets - 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" and 2 cardstock sheets) and I feel like my blade is getting iffy - or it just might be foam

DO NOT:
...Buy the Cricut bags (except maybe the duffel) most do not fit the expression - duffel will only fit expression if you expand it and it's not really "protective" - and doesn't hold much of anything, but if you're set on getting a bag - that's the only one that will work
...do this if you need silence - the machine is LOUD - think of your microwave running or the exhaust fan
...PAY FULL PRICE FOR CARTRIDGES - I got a ton for 60% off - really reasonable if you're willing to wait
I'm going to be making friends with local people who use Cricut and maybe do a cartridge exchange (borrow) b/c not many of the cartridges are repeat use for me - and the ones that are I've bought - I wonder if this is an item that the public libraries have...
...PAY FULL PRICE PERIOD! Most of the national chain stores WILL NOT take their coupons on the machine, but if you are patient, the machines will go on sale - or scope out online venues. Most national chain stores will let you use their % off coupons on the accessories

EDIT 10/2013:
I gave away my E1 and got an E2 - I sadly - like most reviewers regret doing so before using an E2. Well the E2 is terrible and had glitch after glitch. I miss my E1. I have over 30 cartridges so I'm tempted to get another E1 - but probably won't. I'll just use that money to invest in more cuts with the Silhouette. DO NOT GET AN EXPRESSION 2 - or you might end up sad like me. However, My E1 went to a school so I don't feel as badly. They love it and are having a good time making things for their students.

I've used a Silhouette for over a year and I actually love that machine more. It's a higher price point but the ease of use helps pays for itself. Silhouette's Design program is so much easier to use than CCR and offers a lot of flexibility. I think Cricut might have lost a customer (at least for their machines). They make the best mats hands down. I use their mats in my Silhouette.

UPDATE: 10/2014
If you've followed my reviews in the past - you'll know that The E1 was my first love - then I thought newer must be better and bought the E2 - big mistake. The tech/software issues alone made me almost chuck it out the window a few time. I ended up upgrading to the Silhouette Cameo as it was easier to use, less tech issues, and more sophisticated designs and also their subscription plan was amazing.

Apparently Cricut realized they were losing customers and has revamped the machine and created a subscription plan. I'm game to see if this actually holds up to all the hype.

For those of you who have a cricut now - read this blurb (if not, skip to the next section) - If you have projects on CCR - Explore will NOT work with CCR. You can't export your CCR project files and upload them to Cricut Design Space (CDS). I hope this is a feature their software dev people can fix b/c I don't want to have to recreate what I have. Also if you have linked cartridges from CCR/Gypsy/Cricut account - it will load on CDS (small win).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
CRICUT DESIGN SPACE vs SILHOUETTE DESIGN STUDIO - This is actually really important b/c no matter how fancy your machine is, if you can't create what you want - then what's the point.

PRO-TIP - read the FAQ from the cricut page about CDS before you start - there are functionality that are the same, but the way to e is different than CCR. If you're used to the mat layout (which I am) - set your canvas "basic" and select the 12x12 or 12x24 mat so you can layout your items.

SUBSCRIPTION PLAN:
CDS's subscription is really affordable. For $100/year you have access to essentially the entire Cricut library minus a few license cartridges - which is fine for me - a cartridge is roughly $30 on clearance/sale, so for the price of a couple, I have access to tens of thousands of images. YES. PLEASE! I'm guilty of having to buy 1 cartridge b/c I needed 1 specific image. I'm happy "renting the images vs owning them"

I loved SDS b/c you get a subscription plan that allows you $x/month to buy each design. They often have sales on their designs which makes those monthly allowance go very far. However - for Halloween, I burned through my allowance and then some b/c I had a zillion decorations to make. Total Bummer. CDS's option gives me access to everything and anything I can possibly want (except for a few licensed items). Those credits also disappear if you don't use them in the upcoming few months (which has happened to me a few times).

ACTUAL SOFTWARE
SDS is a program you download onto your machines, CDS is web based. This means you have to be on the internet to use it. I like that SDS is offline and I an do this if I'm stuck in a remote cabin. And it's not tied to the bandwidth of my internet - which can get patchy at times. There is a bit of a learning curve, if you have basic MS Word skills, you'll be ok.

One thing I loved about CCR that SDS didn't have was the function to do layers on a project - CDS does have that feature but it's not as easy as just selecting tabs. I miss that. I guess you can do that on the ipad app.

The software is also configured to lay your shape on a mat to maximize your paper. So you technically don't need to lay them on the mat perfectly. It doesn't have an algorithym to change the angle of the shapes so it fits between things. My workaround is to lay the shapes how I want it to be cut on the mat and weld them together - so I can minimize all the white space. CDS then treats that as 1 image and cuts as many as you want.

SDS has grid lines but not numbered/ruled which can be a little tricky at times. I like the gridlines are consistent (inches) on the CDS which makes guessing the size of my outcome to be exactly what I want. (SDS also offers an upgrade version for their design software - for a price - which I've bought, but it's still not as robust at CDS).

WHAT I WISH:

I wish they also had another subscription program that you can purchase the individuals that aren't part of the subscription library at a discount.

If only Design Space had all the buttons/functionality of CCR - then this would actually be perfect.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS MACHINE:
Right out of the box - it worked. All I had to do was login with my Cricut account to Cricut Design Space. Suprisingly - I anticipated a 2 hour block to update firmware on the machine and the process of loading/reloading the app on my computer. It was a 5 minute setup time.

Comes with a bag!!! For the price price point - it's really lame to have to drop $20-$50 for a cover/bag. I rather use the funds for more material or accessories. The bag isn't a cheap dustcover. It's actually a legitimate sturdy canvas bag, with pockets, and handles to haul this badboy out and about.

The machine is surprisingly light especially since it's bigger than the cameo.

It's really clear that some thought was put into re-creating this machine. I love the light (E2 has this, E1 did not, Cameo does not). It helps for smaller detail projects. And who doesn't love something shiny...There is a little cubby hole on the top for you to stick your pens/tools for when you're using the machine. Inside the door there are 2 compartments. One for extra blades and the deep cut housing unit. Another compartment for pens/tools.

The machine may be made out of plastic but the parts that really matter are solid. The blade housing is heavy/sturdy.

I love the mat guide - The silhouette is guilty of having mats slip mid project - which results in having to redo the same project b/c the cut was wrong.

The smart dial takes the guess work out of the depth of the blade and the speed of the cut. I don't know about you - but I can't remember what setting I use for Martha Stewart Cardstock vs Michaels Brand vs Cricut if I haven't worked on a project in a while. My post-its don't stick on.

The speed of this machine is also very impressive - I usually am able to take off projects off 1 mat while another is being cut - but this thing is so fast that my projects end up waiting for me

THIS MACHINE IS EERILY QUIET...I thought the machine was just moving the mat around and not cutting until I looked closely - I no longer need to set craft time based around noise violation ordinances.

The machine is lifted up a bit off the table which means my cords doesn't get in the way of the mat. I also don't need to make sure I have 2ft of clearance behind the machine. This used to be a must for all my machines (E1 and Silhouette) so it wouldn't get caught on something for projects.

WHAT I WISH:
The machine should come with a scraper tool - that's a necessity. If you don't have one, check out the Slice (Making Memories) tool kit. I still swear by mine - it's inexpensive and has almost everything you can possibly need.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
OTHER TIDBITS:
I was talking to a mom friend of mine who said she spent $200 on supplies to make a banner. She had to buy foam letters as a set - and if it didn't have enough of a certain letter, she had to buy another one. She was essentially stuck with what she could get her hands on at the store. When I told her about the Cricut, she about died. I could have made her banner for under $20.

ACCESSORIES:
Cricut by far have the best blades and mats. I use Cricut mats on my Silhouette Cameo. The adhesive is JUST RIGHT and doesn't kill my paper when I'm peeling off projects. I also use my label maker to make a sticker that says "top" which I tape onto the clear protector sheet - this way I'll know which side is meant to be on the sticky side - this might not be a big deal, but I'm a little OCD.

Cricut blades are also 1/4 the price of Silhouettes and also more durable. My blades on the Silhouette would break if I used a thicker cardstock, and I had a project that went through 3 blades, I was a little miffed. The cricut blades are great on tougher material like thick cardstock and foam.

Cricut is the only brand I've come across that carries the larger cardstock (24x12) which I bought on Overstock.

If you need tools (tweezers, scrapers, etc.) - Making Memories Slice Tool kit is the best.

Amazon has consistently better prices on blades/mats (you can get in bulk) and also tools.

CUSTOMER SERVICE:
Cricut's customer service hotline is mostly available during business hours - this was really annoying when I went through my crisis with the E2. Especially being a working parent - I too work those same hours their hotline is open. They need to expand those hours. BUT when you get in touch with a real person, they're super rad.

Silhouette's customer service has always been fast on response via email and phone.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
MATERIALS I'VE USED ON THE EXPLORE - apparently this is the mother of all machines and I can cut all sorts of material. Challenge Accepted.

FOAM: (Do use a brand new mat - otherwise your foam will unstick mid cut and you will turn into a sailor). The nice thing about this software is that you can still customize your cut pressure. After you've loaded the mat, go to the "Material Setting" - then "Add Material" Name it foam, 235. Use the deep cut blade (I've tried variations of settings and deep cut and regular blade before I figured out that I could adjust the setting. DUR. Do know that on one side, it will leave roller marks. So mirror your cuts as necessary.

VINYL: OH EM GEE!! This thing is a dream to cut vinyl with. I uploaded some designs that I liked through the program and it cut them perfectly! My kiddo is obsessed with Mario right now - so I cut out some Mario vinyl and stuck them onto a mason jar - made my own lid insert and voila - instant piggy bank that cost me about $1 to make. I'm thinking this would be a great way to make personalized party favors - fill little jars with candy, or trinkets.

I struggled with cutting on Canvas and Burlap. The material would come undone - even on a new mat, I think I would have to use some type of a spray adhesive on the mat to make it happen.

PENS: I figured since the pens were pretty fine point - that it wasn't able to make an significant drawings - I was wrong. You can set it to run a few times over so it makes a thicker line. I liked that a lot. And it's awesome to NOT have to switch out a pen for the blade - which you have to do with the Silhouette. The computer controls everything - and it's made doing a project effortless and efficient.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SOLID MACHINE:
I need my end projects to be of quality.

ROI has to be solid (Return on Investment) - which means to me - the time I spend "designing it", cutting it, and if necessary, putting it together. The machine has to be easy to use to minimize mistakes - I hate wasting paper - or having to run the same project 3x b/c the mat slipped or a cut didn't go all the way.

VERDICT...are you ready for it?
I guess is really dependent on you.

Is noise level important? If yes, go with the Explore. As much as I love the robotic symphony that my Silhouette makes, I'm pretty sure my neighbors don't love it.

Are you limited on budget? If yes, go with the Explore - the subscriptions option really gives you a diverse group of cuts all for the same price. The machine is really easy to use as long as you have basic computer skills.

If you do get an explore - I highly recommend getting a bundle, it seems like you get more for not paying a whole lot more.

Am I going to part ways with my Silhouette - NO - but I did end my subscription plan with them and just buy as I need. Their library has many more "sophisticated" and "3d" projects that I really enjoy putting together/

If you were to go out and get a machine - since you've never had one before - I'd go with the Explore. It offers a lot of versatility that you don't have to get nickeled and dimed for - I like that I can do 1 project with little effort and get the kids excited to want to participate. There are tons of licensed materials too - so if you have kids - this is great.

I have a feeling that now that they're done doing the development of the machine, they're going to be spending more time/focus on the software side. Which makes this a solid investment. Every time I've thought of something random to do - the machine has been able to make it happen for me.
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1,298 of 1,345 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cricut Expression 2 versus Silhouette Cameo, January 10, 2012
By 
P. Schmidt (Chicago, Illinois USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cricut Expression 2 Electric Cutting Machine (Misc.)
I am writing this review from the perspective of a comparison between the Cricut Expression 2 and the Silhouette Cameo. My review is also approaching the application of these machines from a more industrial perspective, NOT from and arts & crafts perspective. In other words, what applications can inexpensive computer-controlled cutting machines be put to outside of the usual arts & crafts world, and how do the two most popular machines of that type compare in those divergent applications?

By Arts & Crafts, I am referring to applications that involve the usual 'hearts, flowers, puppy dogs, cupcakes' shape cutting. By Industrial, I am referring to other tasks such as cutting stencils for spray painting numbers on shipping crates, cutting gaskets, cutting of labels and industrial markers, cutting picture frame masks, and so on.

I have obtained and used both machines during the same time period. I have had extensive communications with both manufacturers, both in pre-sales discussions and in post-sales customer/technical support. If I mention a feature of a product, it is one that I have used and verified personally. If I mention a limitation of a product, it is one that I have experienced personally AND also discussed with the manufacturer to see if I was missing something and/or if there was a work-arounf or alternative way of achieving the goal.

Both machines will cut out shapes from sheets of flat materials under computerized control. Both machines are very similar in design and layout, and both work in the same mechanical fashion. Both machines are about the same size and can cut shapes from similar sized pieces of raw material. Both machines use a tiny metal knife that us moved up and down under computer control, while the knife holder moves sideways and the material moved front and back. Both machines use a knife blade that swivels so that it always cuts regardless of the direction the materials is moving in relative to the knife itself.

Other than these similarities, there are significant differences in the philosophy between the two products. Henceforth in this review I will refer to the Cricut Expression 2 as the "Cricut" and the Silhouette Cameo as the "Cameo".

The Cricut is fundamentally designed to provide a wide range of predefined symbols and symbol sets from which the user can select adn assemble the desired craft projects. It does this without the need for any additional equipment, and specifically the user does not need to have a personal computer or have any knowledge of software or computers. It is the more portable of the two products because you can pick it up and take it to another location easily without the need to lug along a personal computer (or have a personal computer in the new location). The Cricut is self-sufficient.

The Cameo is fundamentally designed to act exactly as an inkjet or laser printer does when connected to a personal computer; it is in effect a computer printer that produces patterns by cutting them from material as opposed to producing them by putting ink or toner on material. It cannot be used without a personal computer. Its user mist be able to learn and use computer software, the same as learning other software such as word processors, photo editing, web browser, page layout, and other popular applications. The Cameo is not self sufficient.

The Cricut does not allow the user to create shapes from scratch. You must find a suitable shape, or group of shapes, from within the huge library of predefined symbols that is spread across a large number of Cricut cartridges. It is possible to 'weld' different shapes together and this offers some flexibility, but ultimately the shapes must originate in the cartridges. When the user has a specific shape in mind and cannot alter it to suit what can be found in the cartridges, it can become quite frustrating. In the task of trying to assemble the designed custom shape, the user might have to purchase several cartidges, and they are not cheap. It is also quite possible that the desired shape cannot be cut at all.

The Cameo allows the user to create shapes from scratch. There are no cartridges at all. If the user does not wish to design their own shapes, there is also an extensive library of online shapes designed by other users. Cameo does not limit where the shapes come from, but does offer a great many from their own online library at 99 cents per shape. The user can buy only the shape, or shapes, desired and does not need to buy an expensive cartridge only to get a single shape from it. Instead of purchasing shapes designed by others, the user can draw any desired shape using the compter software, and can offer it to others for use.

The Cricut has a nice display, consisting of a color LCD screen with touch sensitive surface. All the operations can be performed by touching the screen, or for more precise selections a plastic stylus is included. Once a given cartridge is plugged into the Cricut, all of its shapes can be viewed on the screen as tiny thumbnail images, and the desired shapes can be selected to a queue, from which they can be dragged to a virtual cutting mat, showing where they will appear on the material to be cut. Any shape can be selected, enlarged, and resized.

The Cameo has a small simple display like a calculator's or an older cell phones. It diplays only one color and shows only text. It is used for diagnostics and for messages like "Load the material" and "Unload the material". All other operations are done using the included computer software, using the computer's keyboard, mouse and screen.

The Cricut can be used, optionally, with the free Craft Room software on a personal computer. This software must be downloaded from the Cricut website; it is not included with the machine. The software includes a library of all currently known cartridges, and allows the user to assemble a complete cutting session before the actual cartridges needed have been purchased. The Craft Room software will not function unless the computer is currently online with Cricut; this is important, since it means that you must have an internet connection anywhwere that you want to use the Cricut in conjuction with the Craft Room software. The Craft Room does not allow the user to design their shapes, but it does provide a more user-friendly interface for the Cricut, since more tools and objects can be viewed on the larger computer screen.

The Cameo must be used with the included Studio software; this comes on a CD-ROM in the box with the machine. For a fee of about $50, it will upgrade itself to the more advanced Designer Edition. The main advantages of the Designer Edition are the ability to import a wider range of graphics from other programs. Both the regular version and the Designer Edition allow the same design and cutting functionality, so for most people there is no need to buy the Designer Edition. The Cameo's software only needs to be online with the Silhouette website when you wish to purchase shapes from their library, or when you wish to do an upgrade to a newer version. Otherwise, the software works without the need for an internet connection.

The Cricut includes a white LED headlight next to the blade, so you can see what it is cutting as it does so. The Cameo does not have such a light.

Both machines use cutting mats, which are clear plastic sheets with a special adhesive on the top surface to make it a bit tacky. This holds the material to be cut so that it does not slide around during cuttings. The mats wear out due to wear from the blades cutting through into them, and from the adhesive wearing out.

Both machines use blades that attach to a tool holder on the machines. The Cricut uses tiny blades that fit into a blade holder, while the Cameo requires the user to replace the blade holder when the blade wears out; this makes the Cameo blades a bit more expensive, but on the other hand it is much easier to handle the larger blade holder then it is handling the tiny (and sharp!) Cricut blades. The Cricut blade depth can be adjusted while the blade holder is attached to the machine, whereas the Cameo blade holder muct be removed from the machine in order to change blade depth. Both machines seem to cut equally well.

The Cricut is not intended to make its cuts on specific areas of the mat (you can get close, though, using the Craft Room software). The Cameo allows very precise cuts relative to the material, so you can specify that a shape be cut starting 1/2", for example, from the edge of the material.

The Cricut is not intended for cutting out pre-printed materials; it is intended to cut out shapes in different materials (of materials of different colors) that can be later assembled to form a multi-colored overall shape.

The Cameo is not a printer, but it does allow importing and designing shapes in any desired color or combination of colors. Then it will send the image to the printer of your choice, printing on the material to be cut; this is limited only by the ability of your printer. The Cameo software will print registration marks on the printed sheet, and when the printed sheet is then loaded into the Cameo machine, it used an electric eye to scan for the registration marks, and will syncronize and align the cutting with the pre-printed images. This allows an infinite number of printed images and cut shapes to be made. The syncronized cuts are very accurate, matching the desired printed images. The user can specify where the cuts are to be made relative to the printed shapes, or the software can automatically figure it out. This even applies to graphical objects imported into the Cameo software, as opposed to being designed in that software.

The Cricut requires that all text come from the cartridges, so the user is very limited in regards to available fonts. The Cameo software can use any True Type font that is installed on the computer, which means pretty much all fonts available to other Windows applications, and of course you can download any font you want from the internet.Since none of the Cricut cartridges include a 'stencil' style font, you cannot easily use it to cut stencils for painting signs and such.

I find that overall, the Cricut is probably a better choice for people interested in arts & crafts projects, or for people who don't have or don't care to use a personal computer. I find that the Cameo is better for people who are prepared to use a personal computer and who desire complete freedom in what shapes they cut.

Finally, I have found that emails to Cricut take four to fives days before a reply arrives, whereas emails to teh Cameo folks are answered almost immediately, and with real and useful responses. I have found that phone calls to Cricut require long waits on hold (typically 20 to 30 minutes) and then often the person answering the phone does not know the answer and transfers me to another group of tech support people, with another long wait. Evbery time I have called the Cameo folks, I have gotten through very quickly. Most importantly, it seems that Cricut support people either know the software or the machine, but nor both. The Cameo folks know both the software and the machine, since they must be used together. My experiences with the Cricut software included issues with getting the software to recognize the machine, whereas in my experience, the Cameo software was more bullet proof and installed easily and recognized the machine every time without trouble.
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428 of 444 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read some discussion boards for tips & tricks., August 19, 2008
The Expression is an awesome machine! I have no cons about the machine itself. About the cutting mat, if it's too sticky, press a clean t-shirt down on the mat & peel it up to remove some stickiness. Simply pressing your clean hands on the mat will also remove excess stickiness and woks just as well. If the mat has lost stickiness, wash thoroughly with dish soap (Goo Gone might be needed) and dry thoroughly. Spray with Krylon Easy-Tack, let the Krylon dry thoroughly and, if needed, press & peel a clean t-shirt (or hands) to remove excess stickiness. Use a lint roller after cutting especially "linty" paper and after each session with your Cricut. The mats will last a really, really long time this way.

I'm sure Provo Craft does not recommend doing anything other than buying new mats, but those who've been using the Cricut since the beginning have found ways to work around the mat issue.

There are also software programs that are compatible with the Cricut that will allow you to cut the True Type fonts installed on your computer, as well as many other file types and designs. (Not Cricut Design Studio, but other, non-Provo Craft programs such as Sure Cuts A Lot and Make The Cut.) Google is your friend. ;)

I wish Provo Craft would release their own software that will allow Cricut users to cut our own fonts, but it hasn't happened (despite begging from customers).

Search the web for discussion boards with Cricut topics. There's a wealth of info out there, as well people who are excited about their machines and eager to help. :)
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155 of 170 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love this product, but not the pricetag, January 18, 2008
I first used the Cricut Expression cutting machine at a weekend scrapbooking retreat. My friend had recently purchased one and brought it along with several cartridges. I already have a sizzix with a few alphabets and other dies.

The Cricut is SOOOO much faster to use than the sizzix. And the versatility you get by being able to choose any size (from about.5" to 11.75" in .25" increments) is amazing. It really opens a whole new world of possibilities. Most cartridges also have alternate versions of the alphabets as well such as italic, bold, tall, etc. Or even being able to place the text inside a tag or other object. Most cartridges also allow you to create a shadow of the letter with a different color for matting purposes wich really adds depth to the scrapbook page.

There are a few cons. First being the price, not only is the machine itself VERY pricey, each cartridge will run between 60 and 90 dollars pre-tax/shipping. This makes each new phont or shape set a whole new investment.
Second con is how quickly the cutting mat loses it's "sticky" over the course of that weekend retreat we had to move onto a second cutting mat and that had begun to lose adhesion as well. Without the stick the page will slide around during the cutting process ruining the letters. We resorted to using repositionable adhesive on the back of the paper to make it stick to the mat. Definitely not ideal.

I just ordered one for myself and am very excited to start using it.
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161 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Machine, November 25, 2011
This review is from: Cricut Expression 2 Electric Cutting Machine (Misc.)
This is another great Cricut machine. It cuts great. No need for an overlay, you can see it on your LCD. You can also zoom on the images so you can see them even larger. It cuts with all Cricut cartridges.
As far as the other reveiewer, this is not a machine that lets you cut out images that you design on your own. If that is something you wish to do, you need to explore other types of cutting machine. With Cricut, they have cartridges that you insert into your cutting machine. They have over 300 cartridges that you can buy with many different types of images available. There are so many to choose from.
Cricut has great quality products. They even have a Cricut Craft Room where you can purchase and design online and then you can cut it with your Cricut machine.
This is another awesome Cricut machine. You will love it!
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90 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Love My Cricut Expression!, January 28, 2008
I purchased the Cricut Expression after testing it with a friend that had just purchased one. I use it constantly! No more cutting out letters by hand for me!!! The letters are precisely cut without tearing. It also cuts designs, tags, and many more shapes too numerous to mention. I recently made Valentine Cards to share with friends using the cartridges that came with the machine and tried out the new color ink cartridges (purchased separately). The lettering was super fantastic! The ink did not smudge and the letters were precisely drawn. A big THANK YOU to this company for making my scrapbooking and card making easier!

The only downside was the $$$...however, if you do your homework by shopping around, you can save. I took a sale ad from a well known fabric store to a different local craft store that had the machine. Low and behold, they honored the other store's sale ad! This saved me lots of $$$. I plan to buy most of the cartridges at our local discount store that has them for less $$. The finished product makes it worth the $$$.
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190 of 217 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WARNING: You now MUST only buy cartridges. Expen$$$ive!!!, August 22, 2011
I just bought a Cricut Expression yesterday at a local store. It was marked down to $99, with a 20% coupon on all craft supplies. I couldn't believe I scored it for $80! My joy was short-lived though.

I had previously owned an Expression a few years ago, using it mostly to make lettering for my store's signs. I had always planned to buy the Sure-Cuts-a-Lot software, as I could never afford to spend $60-90 for a cartridge that usually only has a few designs on it that I like. But I had to close my store and I sold the Cricut for financial reasons.

Yesterday, I finally was able to get a Cricut! But then I got home and did some research, and found out that Provo Craft, the company that makes Cricut, sued the companies that make Sure-Cuts-a-Lot and Make-the-Cut (a similar software)to prevent them from making their software Cricut-compatible. This software makes it possible to use free fonts and dingbats off the internet to create your own designs to cut, for free. Hey, Provo-Crap, think you're going to force me to buy your over-priced cartridges? Think again! I might have bought one occasionally, when I saw one I loved. Now you won't get my business at all.

With more research, I found SEVERAL competing machines, most of which worked with at least one of those cutting design softwares. Black Cat Cougar Cutter looked the best, but was expensive (it etches metal and glass, and embosses leather--cooooool). There are a couple of new versions of cutters coming out this fall (2011) that are better than the Cricut. I'm leaning toward the Sizzix Eclips or the Silhouette Cameo. Some of these machines might be a little bit more expensive than Cricut, but far, far, FAR cheaper in the long run!

The Expression I just bought is going on craigslist. I'm not the only pissed-off Cricut buyer. I've heard of many others packing up their Cricut stuff and selling it on craigslist or ebay to buy another machine. Count me as just one more, Provo Crap. I bought my Cricut Expression for only $80, and it's STILL not worth it in the long run. Even at that price, buying 3 cartridges in the future would put me right back up in the price range of the competing machines, which all allow you to use the money-saving design software, without restricting you to their proprietary cartridges.

Even at $80, the Cricut Expression just isn't worth it!! Five years ago it would have been worth it, when Cricut was the only game in town...but now, with (superior) competition out there? Forget it.

P.S. the fact that a store had it for sale at $99 and didn't exclude it from the 20% arts and crafts department sale should tell you something...the stores are having a hard time selling them, it seems.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cricut Pink Expression, January 17, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Excuse me if this review pops up twice! I have wanted a Cricut Expression for awhile, but kept thinking it was too expensive. When I saw it on Amazon with 3 cartridges ( the cartridges are $20 to $75 depending on where you buy them, and which ones you want). I estimate the value of these cartridges to be $100). I love this machine! I wish I had bought it years ago! The projects I could only imagine are now a reality. I am not limited by how far in a punch will go onto paper, by intricate hand cutting, or by the unvariable size of a die cut plate, like a detailed picket fence and tiny flowers, this machine will do it. I used to pay $5 for pre-cut stickers and other embellishments, but now I make my own and in what size I prefer. I have crafted for 30 years and the Cricut helped take me to another level. The machine may seem complicated, but it is not. If you are concerned, go to YouTube and search for how to use the Cricut Expression. There are hundreds of videos with not only instruction, but also tutorials for scrapbooking, card making, and altered books, mini-albums, wall decor, and more, all you make using this machine. I had considered the smaller Cricut, but this is a far more versatile choice, and cuts 12 x 12 paper. Even if you think you won't need it, you WILL. I have paid for this machine in 4 months of use, saving on those expensive embellishments, and rub on sentiments, this cuts out letters and sentiments which vary by which cartridge you have. I use the Cricut gel pens and markers to have it write the sentiments, again in what ever size you desire. I find that Amazon and ebay have the best prices on cartridges, but if you get this bundle, you are set for awhile. If you are on a budget, I recommend just one more cartridge, "Artiste" which is expensive, but it takes the place of many others and turns out to be cheap in the long run. So in closing, this machine cuts, writes( markers and pens sold separately),paper, cardboard, vinyl and chipboard (you may need a deep cut blade and housing) and other material. You can even make clear stamps with the Cricut stamp kit. As I said before, get online and search the Cricut website and better yet, do an internet search for "cricut videos" and that is all the instruction and information you need. Some scrapbook sites like Splitcoast Stampers have discussion blogs and tutorials too. I almost forgot - you can connect your machine at the Cricut.com site, and they have a "craft room" where you can design and purchase specific images! I have not tried this yet, but have seen YouTube videos. Have fun!
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122 of 141 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't be duped., April 13, 2009
I got this as a gift for Christmas. I bought all the accessories, including the deeper blade. I found that the machine does not cut chip board as the product claims. It also does not cut quilting fabric. Both of which are demonstrated on the DVD provided. I spent another $40 attending a class at a local scrapbooking store using the Cricut Expressions. I am glad I did this because it reassured me that I was not a slow learner. The instructor also had problems trying to get the machine to perform, and the instructions provided were very vague and poorly written. When I have called the customer service at Provo Craft the "tech" did not know how to use the machine, and was not helpful. On the up side, I did buy the software package, on sale. The software has been essential for me to be able to use the cartridges. I agree that all the Cricut products are way over priced, especially when there is little or no customer support. Save your money and buy ready made die cuts.
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94 of 108 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not user friendly, November 26, 2011
This review is from: Cricut Expression 2 Electric Cutting Machine (Misc.)
I was sooo excited when I bought my new Cricut Expressions 2. Couldn't wait to use it! I've got the original Cricut (small) and have used my Mother and my neighbors Cricut Expressions. But now I was the one with the Cricut Expression 2...the newest one! Just bought it today..played around with it...I'm returning it tomorrow and buying the Sillouette Cameo.
The first Expressions was easier to use. A few things.
1} The touch screen (stylist included) made it difficult for me to simply load and unload my paper. You have to exit a screen to get to the next screen just to click on the Load and Unload button.
2} Same issue with resizing and adjusting position. You need to exit a screen, click a couple arrows to get to the icons to do the task.
This made me miss the instant buttons that are on the previous version. Simply press a button for pressure, quantity etc. Now you must scroll through menus to do these things. Just not as simple.
4} There is no upper flap to open when starting. Only a bottom flap. This bottom flap is short and thick, causing the mat and paper to dangle a bit too much over. This dangling that the mat does causes the paper on it to lift due to the bend, and in turn begins to shift while cutting.
5} The solution to this would be to download the Cricut Software which will allow me to do all this on the computer. However, there are many issues with the software, and is not allowing me to download due to a driver issue( not on my end)My husband is an I.T engineer, so not even he could troubleshoot this. And as he looked more online, he discovered this is a problem right now for many.
6} I was a huge Cricut fan! But Cricut is the only die cutter that makes you buy there software (over $50.00) and you can only use their cartridges and templates. Unlike other die cutters who include software with your purchase. (I discovered this after being very disappointed with my new purchase and began researching online of other die cutters.)
I am going to be purchasing the Sillouette Cameo...it just came out last month...I will post my review then! :)
PS.
I gave two stars cuz once you get it to cut..it cuts great! and is super quiet! But you still can only really cut cardstock or thicker. Anything thinner will snag in the Cricut.
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Cricut Expression 2 Electric Cutting Machine
$249.99 $169.99
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