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2,071 of 2,098 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silhouette Cameo versus Cricut Expression 2
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 an 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

versus
59 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I own two Cameos and use the machine extensively
UPDATED 8/6/2014
I had to dock this one star simply because, now I own 4 Cameos instead of 2 and half of them have had return-worthy issues (the exact same issues). The other two have so many quirks that I know for a fact that I cannot cut certain items on certain machines. Additionally, the memory management of the Studio software is HORRIFIC. By that I mean that...
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer


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2,071 of 2,098 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silhouette Cameo versus Cricut Expression 2, January 10, 2012
By 
P. Schmidt (Chicago, Illinois USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Tool (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 an 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.

NEW*** I have placed a short demo video on YouTube under the title "Silhouette Cameo Design Demonstration", URL is [...]

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 here, 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-around 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 is moved up and down under computer control, while the knife holder moves sideways and the material moves front and back. Both machines use a knife blade that swivels so that it always cuts regardless of the direction the material is moving 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 and 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. Without a personal computer, it cannot be used to design shapes or patterns. Its user must 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. HOWEVER, once a design(s) is done using the computer software, you can save the design to an SD memory card (such as are used in most digital cameras), then plug the SD card into a slot on the Cameo. At point the Cameo can be disconnected from the computer, taken elsewhere, and the cutting can be done in any location. However, I have not personally verified this SD card printing feature.

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 cartridges, 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 he/she 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 computer 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 re-sized.

The Cameo has a small simple display like a calculator's or that of an older cell phone. It displays only one color and shows only text. It is used for diagnostics and for messages like "Load the material" and "Unload the material". It can also be used to initiate printing based on design(s) stored on an SD card, as previously mentioned. 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 anywhere that you want to use the Cricut in conjunction 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 than 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 must 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 (e.g. inkjet printers ate usually limited to printing on various papers, while laser printers, both black & white and color models, can print on paper as well as a variety of plastics). I would like to point out that 3M (the makers of Scotch tape and Post-Its) have a wonderful product called "Print To Last" paper, which is an almost indestructible paper-like plastic material designed for laser printers; it is very useful for crafts and industrial applications. Both the Silhouette tech support folks and I have verified the the Cameo will nicely cut this material using the 'Transparency' cut settings (and I fully expect that the Cricut can cut it too, but have not tried it). The Cameo software will print registration marks on the printed sheet, and when the printed sheet is then loaded into the Cameo machine, it uses an electric eye to scan for the registration marks, and will synchronize and align the cutting with the pre-printed images. This allows an infinite number of printed images and cut shapes to be made. The synchronized 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 simply 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.

I have noticed that most crafts stores, such as JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, etc; carry the Cricut Machines and their supplies; I rarely see many cartridges sold in the stores though. Unfortunately, these same stores carry little or no Silhouette supplies. It seems that different chains carry the Silhouette. This may be marketing pressure placed on the stores by the one or both manufacturers. I have read that Cricut blades and cutting mats can be used with the Cameo, but have not experimented with this; some alterations may be needed. But in any case, Supplies for the Silhouette products are widely and readily available online.

Finally, I have found that emails to Cricut take four to fives days before a reply arrives, whereas emails to the Cameo folks are answered almost immediately, and with real and useful responses (and you are talking to people who apparently actually work at Silhouette, not some contracted call center where people read from scripts). 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. Every 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 they know the machine, but not both. The Cameo folks seem to 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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743 of 769 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply AMAZING!, May 7, 2012
I first want to start by saying I have owned many Cricut machines, including the most recent Expression 2. I was dedicated to the brand. This until a friend of mine showed me her Silhouette SD. The cuts were so precise! No paper ripping, no rough edges, no expensive cartridges and beautiful outcomes! I decided I was going to sell my Cricut and purchase the new Silhouette Cameo. I have been using it every day for about a week and I have not regretted my decision to part with my Cricut! I can honestly say, this machine is great.

I find myself in shock after cutting each image. It is so clean, the images are stunning! The graphics available through the design software that came with the Silhoette are wonderful. If you go to Silhouette's website, you can preview the designs for free, prior to purchase. The images are relatively cheap compared to having to buy expensive cartridges in which you only need one image. Almost all of the images are .99 and you can use your own fonts along with the supplied software. I have used a couple of websites which sell SVG files and print them out then cut. They turn out amazing! Included with your Silhoette purchase, you receive a $10 credit towards the online store. I should also mention you can purchase a subscription (which is what I did) instead of paying per image. I used a coupon code which saved 20% on the subscription rate. A quick google search will help you find a code. I pay $16 a month for $150 of images!!! That is nearly 150 images! There are lower rates available too but decided this was the best bang for my buck. I am able to use $150 of images in 2 months time, meaning, if I don't use all my "credits" within the month, they don't expire until the following month. Great deal!

Another positive the Cameo has over the Cricut is the cutting mats and accessories. The cutting mat is wonderful, not too sticky, just perfect. Recently, Cricut changed their cutting mats in which I couldn't get anything to stick while cutting, thus ruining projects! Not the Cameo! I have used my mat a ton and it is still sticky, Silhoette claims their mats last 5 times longer than Cricut... I completely believe it! Another fun thing about the Silhoette is the sketch pens. I was skeptical at first but bought the metallic pens and the designs turned out so beautifully! The pens are great quality!

Another point I would like to bring up is customer service. Their customer service is amazing! If you email them during business hours, they respond within 5 minutes, if that. Now that's customer service! Another example is when I called their 1-800 number. I was expecting to wait on hold after pushing numerous buttons to get to the right peron. I dialed the number and I heard, "thanks for calling Silhoette...". Shocking! They were very friendly and helpful.

In conclusion, I have to respectfully disagree with the prior review. I am a card maker and mom who loves to make goodie bags for my kids' school classes and I can honestly say, The Silhoette Cameo is a great, great product! Anyone who is on the fence... trust me, you will love it! No more Cricut and no more expensive cartridges! :)
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275 of 283 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply AMAZING!, January 14, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Tool (Misc.)
I first want to start by saying I have owned many Cricut machines, including the most recent Expression 2. I was dedicated to the brand. This until a friend of mine showed me her Silhouette SD. The cuts were so precise! No paper ripping, no rough edges, no expensive cartridges and beautiful outcomes! I decided I was going to sell my Cricut and purchase the new Silhouette Cameo. I have been using it every day for about a week and I have not regretted my decision to part with my Cricut! I can honestly say, this machine is great.

I find myself in shock after cutting each image. It is so clean, the images are stunning! The graphics available through the design software that came with the Silhoette are wonderful. If you go to Silhouette's website, you can preview the designs for free, prior to purchase. The images are relatively cheap compared to having to buy expensive cartridges in which you only need one image. Almost all of the images are .99 and you can use your own fonts along with the supplied software. I have used a couple of websites which sell SVG files and print them out then cut. They turn out amazing! Included with your Silhoette purchase, you receive a $10 credit towards the online store. I should also mention you can purchase a subscription (which is what I did) instead of paying per image. I used a coupon code which saved 20% on the subscription rate. A quick google search will help you find a code. I pay $16 a month for $150 of images!!! That is nearly 150 images! There are lower rates available too but decided this was the best bang for my buck. I am able to use $150 of images in 2 months time, meaning, if I don't use all my "credits" within the month, they don't expire until the following month. Great deal!

Another positive the Cameo has over the Cricut is the cutting mats and accessories. The cutting mat is wonderful, not too sticky, just perfect. Recently, Cricut changed their cutting mats in which I couldn't get anything to stick while cutting, thus ruining projects! Not the Cameo! I have used my mat a ton and it is still sticky, Silhoette claims their mats last 5 times longer than Cricut... I completely believe it! Another fun thing about the Silhoette is the sketch pens. I was skeptical at first but bought the metallic pens and the designs turned out so beautifully! The pens are great quality!

Another point I would like to bring up is customer service. Their customer service is amazing! If you email them during business hours, they respond within 5 minutes, if that. Now that's customer service! Another example is when I called their 1-800 number. I was expecting to wait on hold after pushing numerous buttons to get to the right peron. I dialed the number and I heard, "thanks for calling Silhoette...". Shocking! They were very friendly and helpful.

In conclusion, I have to respectfully disagree with the prior review. I am a card maker and mom who loves to make goodie bags for my kids' school classes and I can honestly say, The Silhoette Cameo is a great, great product! Anyone who is on the fence... trust me, you will love it! No more Cricut and no more expensive cartridges! :)
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273 of 297 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are thinking of buying a Cricut. Dont waste your time or money., December 12, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Tool (Misc.)
If you are thinking of buying a Cricut. Dont waste your time or money. Buy the Silhouette CAMEO. Trust me you will not be dissapointed.

My Wife is like a kid in a candy store. She is extremely pleased with this cutter. For $280 this machine really cannot be beat.

The software that comes with the Cameo is top notch. Letting you use all of your own fonts and import your own clipart and photos. There is even a online store that lets you purchase designs for $.99. And they give you a $10 gift card for the store in the box as well. If you can use your "Print Screen" button on the computer and a simple photo editor, the possibilites are endless even without purchasing designs from the store.

The speed and level of detail this machine can cut is very impressive. Very simple to operate as well.

The only advantage I could see for the Cricut, is the ability to make stuff without a PC. Other than that, why waste all of that money on expensive cartridges. There used to be a couple of software companies that made design software like Make-The-Cut that allowed you to use a cricut with a PC. However, Cricut recently sued the companies who make this software and you can no longer get either of them, forcing you to use cartridges.

Silhouette CAMEO is the clear winner.
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71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love my Cameo!!!, May 7, 2012
I'm so glad I discovered this alternative to a Cricut! I bought the Silhouette Cameo from Amazon two days ago, and it's incredibly easy to use -- just turn it on and go. Even the tiniest details are cut cleanly and smoothly. I can print an image on my printer and then cut it precisely on the Cameo. Best of all, I'm not obliged to buy a $50 cartridge when all I want is one image.

Instead of cartridges, the Silhouette Cameo is controlled through the included software for your computer. If, like me, you want to use the artwork collection you already have, I'd definitely recommend upgrading the software to the designer edition (check the coupon sites for silhouetteamerica.com codes). With it, you can import JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, etc., images and use the trace feature in the Silhouette software to create exact cuts with just a click. Each time you print an image, you can tell the Silhouette software to print registration marks. When you cut the image, the Cameo reads the registration marks to perfectly align the cuts with the printed image.

The software that comes with the Cameo includes 51 images. You also get a $10 download card you can use at [...] to buy additional images for 99 cents each. Silhouette has an extensive, searchable library of images. You can also find compatible images at [...]

Another plus: type fonts. With the Silhouette Cameo, you have the ability to use and cut all of the fonts you currently have installed on your computer. No need to buy fonts specifically for the cutter unless you want to. The machine cuts even delicate script fonts wonderfully.

The Silhouette Cameo cuts all the same media the Cricut does, with the exception of chipboard. If you create banners, you'll be glad to know that the Cameo can cut vinyl up to 10 feet long. Colored pens that replace the cutting blade are also available. You can even buy an accessory that allows you to replace the cutting blade with any ball-point pen, turning the Cameo into a plotter.

Bottom line: For the same price as the Cricut Expressions 2, the Silhouette Cameo delivers exceptional cutting ability and far more image
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292 of 330 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This machine addressed all my complaints with the "other guy", July 8, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've had the Cricut for a few years now. I had similar complaints that many others have - limited to the images on the cartridges; the cartridges have more images than I need; waste too much paper because it's difficult to position the needle; can't see clearly what you're cutting and how big the design will be when cut.... All that aside, the machine was meeting my needs until I needed to cut my own design for a project. A friend told me I could purchase a program that would allow me to use my own images, so I went researching. I was actually prepared to buy a new Cricut (because it was bigger and better) until I realized that Cricut sued the program that allows you to use your own images. That sent me searching for a new solution.

After conducting research, I came across the Silhouette. And, all I can say - the Cricut pales in comparison! Out of the box, I was able to use my own images. And, every frustration I had with the Cricut was addressed by the Silhouette. This machine works beautifully! I've cut paper. I've cut fabric. I have seen complaints regarding the life of the blades and the cutting mats. I haven't had issues with either one. The possibilities are endless with this machine. I'm nothing short of impressed and would recommend it over the Cricut any day. Silhouette has a better business model, and they've got a better machine.
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405 of 462 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Machine if you follow some basic instructions, September 12, 2012
My husband bought me the Silhouette Cameo Starter Bundle from Amazon after I bragged about how many things this machine could do. Of course, after receiving it, I wanted to start using it right away. I went to our local Joann Fabrics store and bought a multi-pack of cardstock. I immediately started cutting. What I noticed were the following:

* the cardstock was tearing while cutting
* cardstock was even tearing more after I tried to get it off the cutting mat.

I was rather disappointed at first. I tried a few different settings with the blade, but nothing helped. I even used the new blade that came with the bundle but even the new blade was tearing up my paper. Until I did some more research on the Silhouette Cameo.

Yes the cutting mat is very sticky, but looses it's stickiness rather fast after a few uses. Now after so many uses my mat isn't sticky enough anymore. So I use adhesive spray to keep my paper in place and it works great!

NOW the most annoying problem of them all was the tearing of the paper while cutting. I bought the Core'Dinations Premium Textured Cardstock from Joann's. That was a big mistake. That type of cardstock seemed very soft and fibrous. So after some research on peoples blogs I found out that Bazzill Cardstock or American Crafts Cardstock works the best with the Silhouette. Of course our Joann's doesn't sell any of these. But our local Michael's does sell Bazzill Cardstock but only as individual 12 x 12 sheets. I bought some sheets and tried them! Oh boy! What a difference! No more tearing and nicely cut shapes came out of my Silhouette. Now I'm as happy as can be!

So anyone who is having problems with tearing cardstock I advice to try different brands because the Silhouette cuts some cardstock better than others.

In the meantime I have cut vinyl and used the sketch pens without any problems.

Another big PRO to the Silhouette is their website and lack of cartridges. I never owned a Cricut or any other die cutting machine because I simply didn't want to buy those expensive cartridges. I do graphic design in my free time and I love to be able to use my own creations to cut with the Silhouette. Also shapes in their online store are $ 0.99 so it's a bunch cheaper and you only pay for the shapes you want. They also have a free shape of the week and weekly clearance shapes for $ 0.50. There are also online stores where you can buy reasonably priced shapes. Much better than fooling with cartridges.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great cutter, December 12, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Tool (Misc.)
The Silhouette Cameo is a wonderful cutting tool. I am no longer limited to cutting from cartridges. The Silhouette folks have a freebie design on Tuesday for you to download too. I also ordered the heat vinyl and rhinestone kits which come with a CD tutorial. Using a scale of 1 to 10, this machine will get 10 in my opinion.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly Versatile Little Crafty Creation, February 16, 2013
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This review is from: Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Tool (Misc.)
After months and months of online research and review-readings, I decided to purchase the Silhouette Cameo cutting machine. I have now owned the machine for over six months and can say without-a-doubt, this was the best purchase I've made in regards to my crafting hobbies. I have created countless gifts and items for my family with this little gadget. It takes up very little space on my desk, less than a desktop printer. I purchased a Silhouette cover for it to keep the dust off. It could easily be stored, but I don't mind leaving it out. Just makes me want to use it more!

The Silhouette Cameo comes with basic software that will be perfect for most crafters. It is more than I have needed so far. With this basic software, I am able to use images from the internet that I have "googled" by using the trace tool (will get into that more later), use the basic images that come with the program (a nice start), create shapes, use any font that is on my computer (tons of free fonts are available by searching online), combine images into one by "welding," remove parts of images by detaching, subtracting, etc. The only feature I have not tried out yet is print and cut. Haven't had a reason to use it yet, but I'm sure I'll be using it in the future.

The Silhouette Cameo blade is easily removable and adjustable to accommodate various paper, fabric, and other media. I have used the "Test Cut" button to test out my cut depth on media that aren't listed under the presets in the software. I have cut vinyl, contact paper, construction paper, card stock, scrapbook paper, and fabric with an iron-on backing (I used a non-Silhouette brand and it worked fine). I did purchase an extra blade to use solely for fabric, as paper dulls a blade very quickly. I purchased the blue fabric blade, which is the exact same blade with a different color housing so you can easily identify which blade you'll be using for fabric.

Now, as for the blade and mat, I am still using the ones that came with my Silhouette Cameo. My mat did get quite messy after heavy use for a few days, but some baby wipes cleaned it up nicely (thanks Pinterest for that tip). The original blade is just now beginning to dull from all the paper I've been cutting, but I suspect it still has TONS of life left in it. The blades and mats aren't very expensive (around $10 each) if you need to replace them. I've purchased some 2-way glue that was recommended to use to re-sticky the mat. I'll update and let you know how that works. Spent about $6 on the glue that I should be able to use multiple times to re-sticky the mat, saving me quite a few bucks! Hoping it works. According to blogs, it does.

Back to the trace feature that allows you to save any image (with right-click and "save image") from the internet (love Google), just find an image you want, right-click on it and choose "save image" from the drop down menu, and save it to your desktop or wherever you can easily find it. Now open up your Silhouette Cameo software, choose "File," and then "Import Image to Library." Locate your image you just saved and add it to your Silhouette Library. Now it is there. You may have to click on different library files to find it, but it is available to use now. Once you open it into the program, most clip art has white around the edges, now allowing you to do much. So to get the outline, just go up to the right side of the top menu bar and click on the trace icon. Highlight the entire image, click the outline image choice, and there you go. It has now traced the outer edges of your clip art image. You can now remove the colored part, leaving behind the red outlined area. Easy Peasy!

I've created many gifts and projects with the Silhouette Cameo. So far, I've created labels for tubs and containers, special occasion cards, letters for bulletin boards and decorations (I teach), birthday party decorations such as banners and cake topper buntings, vinyl lettering for buckets, gift boxes, and other gift containers, contact paper stencils to use with etching cream to etch various glass containers, fabric lettering and shapes for shirts and dresses (must use an iron-on stabilizer on the back of your fabric to cut it precisely), scrapbook lettering for some of my children's crafty projects such as Valentine's Day boxes they created for school, and many other projects I've long forgotten! I work full-time and have two children, so I'm not using my Cameo every day, sometimes not even every week, but when I do have a need, it is there and so easy to just plug in, connect to the computer via USB, and begin using immediately. It can't possibly get any easier than this!

The mat itself has grid lines that are also on the screen when you're using the software. This makes it very easy to line up and have the Cameo cut exactly where you want it to. The only thing I can say negatively about this entire system is the fact that I can't see numbers for the grid lines on the screen on the software. It shows the lines, but doesn't have the numbers. So I'm having to count them on the screen to get my paper or vinyl exactly on the correct location. The mat does have numbers. If I am overlooking some sort of menu choice that allows you to show the numbers, someone please tell me!!!! The mat seems to be very long-lasting and heavy duty. I have cut too deep on some things, causing the mat itself to have some slight cuts, but it still works fine. I haven't used the Cameo without the mat yet, but it is an option. without a mat, your length limit is endless! You can cut any length without the mat. The 12 x 12 size that is included is just right for me though. They do have a 12 x 24 option available, but I haven't found a reason to buy that yet.

I purchased two tools to use with my Cameo, the hook and the spatula. I can see how the spatula would be useful if you were doing intricate work, but I found it to tear the paper or bend it a bit on the edges too much to be very beneficial. The hook, however, is a GREAT tool to have. I use it to grasp those little pieces of vinyl that I need to remove before applying my vinyl to whatever. I thought I could get by without this little tool, mainly by just using an open safety pin or the end of an open paperclip. However, this little hook tool made my life so much easier. I highly recommend it if you plan on doing much vinyl. If you're buying the Cameo, I'm assuming you ARE going to do some vinyl!

Another tip I have learned is to use Press 'N Seal Wrap (similar to plastic cling wrap, used to cover food, etc.) to transfer my vinyl. This works amazingly well, saving me quite a bit of money on transfer tape. I've also used painter's tape. It works OK, but the Press 'N Seal wrap method is perfect! I used it in conjunction with a scraper tool (a credit card would work just fine) that I already had from a Creative Expressions vinyl order I placed a few years ago (I knew that tool would come in handy again).

That is pretty much the Silhouette Cameo in a rather large nutshell. If you're torn between this and the other popular, chirping insect style cutting machine, I would highly recommend this little baby! It is all you need...no extra cartridges to purchase, free fonts and clip art available on the internet, Silhouette Image store available for specific images you may want to purchase for typically less than $1, easy software to use, etc. I have converted a few chirping insect style cutting machine users to Silhouette Cameo users, and they are going crazy over how much cheaper and easier it is to use. They love the no-cartridge freedom!
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278 of 328 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Praise the lord, December 4, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Finally... something that makes it so my wife quits yelling at me about playing video games. MEN!!! GO BUY YOUR WIFE ONE OF THESE, THEY WILL BE ADDICTED TO CUTTING OUT LITTLE THINGS AND CRAFTING ALL DAY, it is amazing.
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Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Tool
$299.99 $261.59
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