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Silhouette Cameo Starter Kit Bundle
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2,754 of 2,793 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 10, 2012
Style Name: CameoVerified Purchase
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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886 of 921 people found the following review helpful
Style Name: Starter Bundle
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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323 of 341 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2012
Style Name: CameoVerified Purchase
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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111 of 120 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2013
Style Name: Starter BundleVerified Purchase
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 running Studio will suck up more computer memory than running both Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop combined. There is no excuse for that. I have a higher end computer with great memory and a great processor. If you have a medium to low performance computer I do not know how you can even run this software at all. This program runs SO SLOWLY after awhile that recently it literally took me 45 minutes to print one file because it rendered the file much larger than it needed to be (it had a lot of font/ words, NOT graphics) and so it took that long just to spool to my printer after freezing and crashing multiple times. There is a software upgrade (v.3) that should honestly never have been released because it is so buggy I had to uninstall it. Using the upgraded software, the Cameos simply would not cut all the way through the paper on any of my machines no matter how new the blades were that I was using. There are also multiple other issues with the "upgraded" software package. Silhouette America made a huge mistake releasing that software when it did and until there are MAJOR improvements in it, I will not re-install it.

BACKGROUND:
I use the Silhouette Cameo in my small crafting business. I currently own two of them and have a third on the way (its a busy business). I use my Cameo everyday. I would have given the machine 5 stars but, I am currently in the process of returning one machine and making a warranty claim. I simply got a dud of a machine and 9 months and countless support calls later, I am simply going to return it. That being said, my other Cameo is a workhorse but has some limitations.

EASE OF USE
HARDWARE AND INCLUDED ACCESSORIES:
The Cameo is super easy to use once you get the hang of it. Plan to spend the first day or two wasting paper and testing things out. The hardware is straight forward and not too technical to get the hang of. The blade is easy to insert and the lcd screen is easy to understand. What is not so straight forward is using the Cameo with an SD card only. While it is easy to save the image to SD and pop the card into the machine, once you get there, it is very confusing trying to open the image and change the cut settings via the SD screen. But, maybe I need to play with this option a little more.

BLADES:
The cutting blade was a constant source of irritation at first. For some reason, the first 5-6 blades I purchased did not have removable tips. Then I, somehow, managed to get a blade with a removable tip and that made ALL the difference. Little bits of paper can get stuck in the blade housing which can negatively affect the performance of the blade so, trying to fish tiny bits of paper out of an even tinier hole is almost impossible without the removable tip. So, hopefully, the removable tip is here to stay because it is invaluable.

MATS:
The cutting mats are excellent until they're not anymore. I have only had one mat (out of the probably 100 that I have owned) that was insanely sticky out the pack - so much so that it shredded and destroyed the one piece of paper I used on it. All of the other mats I have owned are great for a good while. I have kept some numbers and I can usually get 50-60 full page cuts out of a 12x12 mat before it becomes difficult to use. I have tried all of the popular re-stick methods (spray glue, Re-Nu sheets, Slice mat adhesive, Xyron adhesive etc.) and none of them are ideal. Most leave you with not enough adhesive or adhesive that sticks to the paper, not the mat. I have also tried Cricut mats, because they are cheaper, but the quality is not as good as Silhouette branded mats. Again, I use the Cameo for high volume cutting so, if you are just a hobbyist, one mat should last a long time.

I use the scraper religiously. I do not believe it comes with the Cameo and needs to be purchased separately but it is well worth it.

SOFTWARE:
The included software is ok. It is intuitive to use but has some functionality problems in my opinion. Opening large graphics is my biggest issue. If the graphic is too large, the Studio software will simply stop displaying it or printing it properly, even if you shrink it down. Any document containing the image will not save and will become wildly distorted. Large images need to be shrunk in another software before they are opened in Studio. From what I can gather from support on this issue, this may not be a problem in the designer version of the software, which costs an additional 50.00.

Also, although you can use all of the fonts installed on your PC, I find that a lot of the fonts are limited in that you cannot bold, underline or italicize them for some reason - the options are there, they are just greyed out. Additionally, although I wouldn't say the Studio software crashes frequently, it does crash and has crashed many times. If you have not saved your work, you are out of luck when it decides to crash. I would say that the software freezes often though, especially when sending something to the printer. It will say "Not responding" and spin for awhile but then, eventually, it will unfreeze. If you are cutting something and trying to print something else out, everything will stop for awhile and freeze up. It eventually will come back though.

Finally, I find that if you have many images or even a lot of font on your project page, the Studio software simply cannot keep up, it uses a lot of computer memory and drags noticeably to the point where there is a 5-7 second lag between me telling it to do something and it actually doing it. I have a high performance computer that can run Photoshop, Illustrator and other large apps simultaneously without a problem so, it is not my computer, it is the software.

QUALITY OF CUTS:
I cut perhaps 30-40 pages a day on my Cameo. I use everything from 110# cardstock to super thin (read: crappy) sticker paper. The Cameo can cut a variety of materials well. The thicker cardstock needs to be double cut on a low speed though and, because of this, it can take forever to cut a full sheet of shapes on the thicker stuff. But, cutting stickers is super fast and easy to do.

With more intricate cuts, The Cameo is hit or miss - mostly hit. But, I find I have much more waste than with simpler shapes. If I have 10 intricate shapes on my sheet, I may lose 3 of them to ripping or messy cutting. This is true no matter the cut speed, blade depth or material I am cutting.

PRINT AND CUT:
The Print and Cut feature is amazing normally but does have its drawbacks for sure. The default margins for print and cut are huge so if you use the default settings, you will waste a ton of the page on empty space. But, I find that if you change the default settings, the accuracy of the cut decreases. Additionally, I have found that there is one certain print that the Cameo simply does not like - if you have a printed outline on your shape and you want the Cameo to cut out the shape leaving a little space between the printed outline and the cut line, I have found that the accuracy of the cuts drops dramatically. For instance, if I have 20 shapes on a page, I may lose 15-16 of them because they are being cut off-center. That is an enormous amount of waste and limits the design potential.

SILHOUETTE BRANDED PRODUCTS:
Of the Silhouette branded products, I have purchased and used the white sticker paper, foil paper, chalkboard vinyl, adhesive fabric paper, clear sticker paper, regular vinyl, double sided adhesive, magnet paper, adhesive magnet paper, and tattoo paper. I have found that MOST if not ALL of the silhouette branded materials are wildly overpriced for what you are getting and, at the end of the day. it is not necessary to purchase the Silhouette brand. For example, the printable white sticker paper runs about 1.00 per page and you get 8 pages in a pack. This is nothing but plain white label paper and you can get something identical for a dime per page elsewhere. You may need to slightly tweak the suggested cut settings but I find you need to do that anyway because the suggested settings for many of the Silhouette branded materials do not work well for me. Additionally, I have found that materials such as the foil paper and clear sticker paper DO NOT print well in a laser printer and do not print at all in an inkjet printer. I think they are formulated for laser printing but it does not say that and, in any case, does not print properly. I find that much cheaper and comparable foil and clear paper print WAY better than the Silhouette branded items. I have two laser printers and 1 inkjet and it is the same story in all the printers. Also, the instructions on the packaging is almost non-existent on the branded products and the online videos are really not helpful to me.

CONCLUSION:
The Cameo ultimately is an amazing machine. Is it perfect? No. But, it also is in the 200-300 dollar range which, for a digital cutting machine that does not require expensive cartridges, is a good deal. I would never consider buying a machine that requires you to purchase cartridges separately as you can import and create a great many shapes yourself on the Cameo. Understand the limitations of the machine and it will give you lots of crafting pleasure. Also know that, if your machine does not work and you are fairly certain it is not user error, you may just have a bad machine.
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299 of 332 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2011
Style Name: CameoVerified Purchase
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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92 of 99 people found the following review helpful
Style Name: Tool Bundle
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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73 of 79 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 18, 2012
Style Name: Cameo
I got my machine in February, so I've had plenty of time to play with and accurately review it. Let me start by saying that I have owned the small Cricut, then the Cricut Expression with the SCAL program, and now this with the Designer Studio software. So, I'm pretty familiar with this type of machine. You will need a computer to use it, so if you don't have one, stick with the Cricut. I'd suggest getting a pick and spatula tool as well. I have Cricut 7-Piece Tool Kit for Cricut Cutting Machines and Cricut Spatula Tool and they work perfectly. I actually prefer the Cricut spatula over the smaller and triangle shaped Silhouette Spatula, which I own as well. I was excited to completely ditch expensive cartridges and that this one can cut 12" x 10 Feet in comparison to the Expression only being able to cut 12 x 24". This machine also can cut things that have a backing without a mat. I cut vinyl a lot, so this was a definite plus for me. The software is really easy to figure out and there are tons of helpful videos online, if you are having trouble. If you are like me, you may not even need the Designer edition. I bought it, but haven't used anything that wasn't included in the free version yet. So, definitely download the free version and use it before going for the one you have to pay for. I actually downloaded the free version before my Cameo arrived and got familiar with it, so that I'd be ready to go as soon as the machine came. If you already have Make The Cut (MTC) or Sure Cuts Alot (SCAL), you can use them with this machine as well. You may have to download an update, but they can be used. This was another advantage the Cameo had over the Cricut considering that they (Cricut) sued these companies and you can no longer use the softwares with the new Cricut machines. So, you are forced to buy the expensive cartridges and are limited to what fonts, images, etc that are on those cartridges. With the Cameo, you can use any font that you have on your computer and download whatever fonts you find online. The same thing goes with images..If you can trace the image, you can cut it. Even very intricate things can be cut. It is truly amazing how well this machine cuts. I've used mine for Heat Trasnfer Vinyl more than anything else, which is cut in reverse and ironed onto fabric, like a shirt. I've uploaded pictures of some of the things I've done to show how intricate this machine can cut. It is louder than the Cricut, so don't be alarmed...it almost sounds broken, but it's not and you will get use to it. It's just how it's made. You are able to use Cricut mats in it as well. This is great for people like me that don't have Silhouette dealers anywhere close. So, if I need a mat in a pinch, I have the option of running to my local craft store to buy a mat. There are also options for making your mat sticky again. You can find videos and tutorials for that all over too. I bought a few extra blades when I bought my machine so that I would have them, but haven't had to switch it out yet, and I've used it quite a bit. I haven't used the Print and cut feature or the rhinestone, but want to try it at some point. I still would love this machine, even if it wasn't capable of those two functions. The bottom line is that this is the best machine on the market in this price range. A Cricut will cost you so much more in the long run with buying cartridges and just really limits what you can design. I hope this helps.
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304 of 345 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2012
Style Name: Starter BundleVerified Purchase
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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418 of 479 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2012
Style Name: Starter Bundle
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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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2013
Style Name: CameoVerified Purchase
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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