Silhouette Cameo Starter Bundle (Old Model)
- The silhouette cameo starter bundle includes an extra mat (2 total), cutting blade (2 total), metallic pen set and pick-me-up-tool
- 50 exclusive cuttable designs.
- Includes access to thousands of downloadable designs; Includes PC and Mac compatible software, One month free subscription ($10 value, gray card located in accessory tray) is included for use at the Silhouette Online Store.
- Cuts up to 12-inch wide and 10-feet long; cuts a variety of materials from vinyl to fabric . Does not Include Starter Kit vinyl
- Great for Scrapbook layouts, cards, custom apparel, vinyl decor, etched glass, sketch designs, and paper crafts
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The Silhouette CAMEO is the ultimate personal crafting machine. The CAMEO is powered by the Industry leading Silhouette Studio Software. When partnered with the software, the Silhouette CAMEO can take you to places where no other cutting tool can follow. On the surface, the CAMEO resembles a printer. It plugs into your PC or Mac with a simple USB cable. However, instead of printing it uses a small blade to cut paper, cardstock, vinyl, fabric and more up to 12" wide and 10 feet long. The versatile CAMEO has the ability to cut designs as small as 1/4", and as large as 12". The Silhouette CAMEO's key features include the ability to download and create any of the 50,000+ images available on the Silhouette Online Store, but that is just the beginning. You can also cut or draw any font on your computer, design your own images using the advanced designing tools, or use the 1-click trace feature to import and trace designs. The creative possibilities are virtually endless!
Silhouette Studio Software
The Silhouette Studio Software is the most powerful consumer digital cutting and designing software in the market. This innovative software is highlighted by features normally found in high end illustrating software, yet is amazingly simple, easy to use, and absolutely free to Silhouette users. Silhouette Studio Software resides completely on your computer, which means that you are free to design whenever and wherever you would like, regardless of internet availability. This also means that the performance of your software is not dependent on the speed or availability of an internet connection. Simply open the software and create. When an internet connection is conveniently available, updates to your software are quick, easy, and always free. As your library of creativity begins to grow, you will never have to worry about losing content. Silhouette will always keep track of your purchases in case of loss, theft, or crash of your computer. Simply call one of our friendly customer support representatives, and your library will be magically restored. Still need convincing? Download a free copy of the Silhouette Studio Software today at www.silhouetteamerica.com/software/silhouette-studio. There is absolutely no obligation. Try it. You will quickly see why the Silhouette Studio Software has changed the digital cutting industry forever.
Silhouette CAMEO electronic cutting machine, Silhouette Studio software, 51 exclusive cuttable designs, Power cable, USB cable, 12" cutting mat, Cutting blade, 1 month Basic subscription to the Silhouette Online Store, Basic Instruction Guide.
Intricate cuts, precision duplication, and smooth edges make Silhouette the perfect tool for paper crafting projects. Whether you're a novice creating a simple gift box, or a pro creating paper castles and models, Silhouette can make your crafting quicker and easier.
With Silhouette you can create handmade greeting cards with designs and sentiments perfect for the occasion no matter what it is. And making duplicates is as easy as a few clicks of the mouse. The Silhouette Online Store even has unique card templates from scalloped edges to flourish windows to pop-up sentiments.
Vinyl Home Decor
Vinyl décor is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to decorate homes. Easy to cut, self-adhesive, and removable, vinyl is the perfect way to add your favorite quotes and designs directly to the walls of your home, car windows, and projects. Best of all, Silhouette vinyl is priced just right so you can just peel off your designs when you're ready for something new.
With Silhouette's intricate cutting ability and freedom to choose and customize designs and text, creating custom shirts, jeans, shoes, and more is easy enough for anyone to do. Cut and iron on simple phrases or intricate layered designs in heat transfer material or add some bling to your wardrobe by cutting rhinestone templates with a Silhouette rhinestone starter kit.
Sewing / Quilting
Silhouette is changing the sewing/quilting industry. No more hand cutting fabric for your embroidery or quilting projects. Silhouette Studio software can work with your machine embroidery software to create quick, clean, precise fabric cuts that are perfectly sized for use with your projects. Using Silhouette can literally save you hours of tedious hand cutting, getting you back to your sewing machine faster.
Silhouette can turn any design into a sketch. Just take out the blade, pop in a Silhouette sketch pen and watch Silhouette draw intricate patterns.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.