Cricut and Silhouette are two of the most renowned brands of cutting machines in the market. Both of them are known for producing high quality machines and equipment for their customers. In this article, we will see the comparisons between their most popular models, Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3. Which one is actually better for the money?
Below, we will discuss further about:
- The size and look of each cutting machine
- The features and capabilities of each cutting machine
- Which model that is easier and more practical to use
- The software of Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3
- Which model that has higher cutting power and works faster
- Which model that is generally more recommended
Size and Portability
The first thing that we can compare between Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3 is the dimensions. In general, a compact and lightweight cutting machine is preferred because it doesn’t eat up space on the table and it becomes easier to bring along. Both machines here can cut sheets with a maximum width of 12”, so you are not going to sacrifice any functionality when choosing the more compact model.
Both Cricut Explore Air 2 and Silhouette Cameo 3 are actually sleek and neat. However, Cricut Explore Air 2 is more portable and space-friendly. It is smaller and slimmer. It does not require as much space on the table. This is a huge advantage if your work table has a very limited space.
Cricut Explore Air 2 makes an excellent choice for a cutting machine that is easy to bring along when going to a class or traveling.
Cricut Explore Air 2 closes up tightly and securely. You can easily transport this cutting machine without worrying much about accidentally breaking something in the process. Cricut Explore Air 2 makes an excellent choice if you are looking for a cutting machine that is easy to bring along when going to a class or traveling.
On the other hand, Silhouette Cameo 3 is considerably taller and wider. It requires more clearance on the table. This may make it difficult to use, especially if your work table isn’t really large. It may make you want to have a dedicated table just to put the cutting machine there.
Silhouette Cameo 3 is obviously not the most portable cutting machine in the market. It is more difficult to bring along.
Silhouette Cameo 3 becomes even more annoying to use because of the tray-like door. When you are about to open the lid, it requires some free space on the front. Again, it eats up space on your work table. With the bulky body, Silhouette Cameo 3 is obviously not the most portable cutting machine in the market. It is more difficult to bring along. (Read also : Cricut Maker vs Silhouette Cameo 3)
In addition, the tray-like door on the front doesn’t seem to be very durable. It may look closed, but it does not have a latch to hold the lid in the position. So, you may be worried that the lid will snap open when exposed to an impact. In short, Silhouette Cameo 3 is not the most travel-friendly option. You may want to consider some alternatives if you want to bring your cutting machine along when traveling.
Design and Color Choices
Between Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3, which model does look better? Well, the answer depends more on subjective and personal preferences. Besides, we should note judge a cutting machine by its cover alone. However, aesthetics are still important, and there are several differences that you may want to consider.
In terms of color choices, Cricut Explore Air 2 is easily the winner. It is available in three beautiful pastel colors.
Both of the Cricut and the Silhouette come with minimalist designs, despite the differences in their dimensions. In terms of color choices, Cricut Explore Air 2 is easily the winner. It is available in three beautiful pastel colors, which are the greenish Mint, the light blue Sky, the pink Rose, and the black… Black. With these color choices, you can choose the one that matches your equipment, home decoration, or simply your favorite color.
Overall, Cricut Explore Air 2 looks cute and nice. It has subtle curves and smooth edges. The outer body does not have any sharp edge or corner. The white part on the bottom of the body adds a nice accent. The controls are very easy to reach, too. It features a smart dial to select the material type, and the machine will use the setting preset for that material.
Silhouette Cameo 3 has opted for a more assertive design. The lines and edges are more decisive. They actually go well to create a professional look.
On the other hand, Silhouette Cameo 3 is only available in a single color option, which is the sleek chic white. This is fine if you happen to like the white color. But this may be a slight issue if you want some color variation.
Unlike Cricut Explore Air 2, Silhouette Cameo 3 has opted for a more assertive design. The lines and edges are more decisive. They actually go well with the somewhat bulky size to create a professional look.
In addition, Silhouette Cameo 3 features a LCD touch screen for control. It looks really cool. The LCD touch screen can also show you some tutorials on how to insert the blades and mats – there’s no need for Google or YouTube anymore. So, while Cricut Explore Air 2 comes with a cute and nice look, Silhouette Cameo 3 is more about being elegant and classy.
Cutting Size and Specs
Both Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3 are personal desktop-sized cutting machines. So, understandably, their maximum cutting sizes are relatively small. Emphasize the word “relatively” – they indeed can’t compare against larger commercial-grade cutting machines. However, they are already great for home users, because they are able to handle sheets of up to 12 inches wide. Most papers and art sheets for home-made crafts don’t go larger than that.
The maximum cutting size of Cricut Explore Air 2 is 11.5 inches wide and 23.5 inches long. The size is compact, but perfectly usable for most hobbyists and home crafters. Unfortunately, the cutting size is much smaller if you use the Print Then Cut function in the Design Space. You usually use this function when importing files instead of buying them directly from the Cricut Image Library.
When you are using the Print Then Cut function, the cutting size depends on the browser that you use:
- If you are using Google Chrome, the maximum cutting size is the smallest, only 5.5 inches wide and 8 inches tall.
- If you are using Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari, the maximum cutting size is slightly larger: 6 inches wide and 8.5 inches tall.
- If you are using the iOS mobile app, the maximum cutting size is the largest, which is 6.5 inches wide and 9 inches tall.
On the other hand, Silhouette Cameo 3 boasts a maximum cutting size of 12 inches wide and 10 feet long. Well, realistically, the width is closer to 11.5 inches, which is similar to Cricut Explore Air 2. However, the real advantage here is the much longer maximum cutting size. Silhouette Cameo 3 can handle paper rolls easily. This is extremely useful for people who need to make particularly long designs or banners.
These two cutting machines come from different brands, of course they work with different software applications. Cricut Explore Air 2 works with the Cricut Design Space software, whereas Silhouette Cameo 3 works with the Silhouette Studio software. Choosing the right software that is suitable for you is very important if you want to use the machine effectively and conveniently.
The Cricut Design Space software is ideal for beginners and newcomers. The available designs are somewhat more limited, but it isn’t very far behind.
The Cricut Design Space software is ideal for beginners and newcomers. It indeed does not offer much of a punch compared to the popular heavyweight programs, such as Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw, but it is very easy and intuitive to use. All of the functions and features are simple and straightforward. However, advanced crafters who prefer to upload and convert their own designs may want to use a separate, more advanced software program like the ones previously mentioned.
Cricut Design Space also has a huge image library, but you need to pay some money in order to download images from there. You can choose either the monthly subscription (which costs $9.99 per month) or the pay-per-download option (which costs 99¢ per download). Compared to Silhouette’s image library, Cricut Design Space has somewhat more limited selections, but it isn’t very far behind.
There is the “Make It Now” section that provides instant packet projects. This is nice when you want to start working immediately. Cricut Design Space works with Windows and Mac computers, and requires an Internet connection. It also has a mobile app, but the mobile app is currently available only for iPhone and iPad devices. The mobile app has an offline mode to allow you to work without an Internet connection.
Silhouette Studio is generally a better and more advanced software. It has a larger collection of images. It is compatible with more devices.
Silhouette Studio, on the other hand, is generally a better and more advanced software application than Cricut Design Space. Silhouette Studio used to have an image of being difficult to learn and very unfriendly. However, since the release of Silhouette Studio 4.0, the software is now a lot more accessible for beginners. It still has a somewhat steep learning curve, but the latest versions come with a more streamlined user interface, walkthroughs, and interactive guides.
As mentioned above, Silhouette Studio has a larger collection of images than Cricut Design Space. Advanced users may also find it more powerful and effective to use. Silhouette Studio is compatible with a wide range of devices. The desktop app works on Windows and Mac computers, iPad and Windows RT tablets. Meanwhile, the mobile app is available for Android, iOS, Windows, and Kindle mobile devices.
Ease of Use
In general, both Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3 are incredibly easy to use. So, these machines are suitable for beginners. However, they also have great power and features to be useful for advanced crafters.
Both Cricut Explore Air 2 and Silhouette Cameo 3 have built-in Bluetooth. By using the Bluetooth connectivity, you don’t need to plug your device to the cutting machine in order to design and cut.
Cricut Explore Air 2 has the Smart Set Dial on the top side near the front. You only need to turn this dial to select the material type. There are several presets available, including vinyl, paper, cardstock, and bonded fabric. The unit will automatically calibrate the settings according to the chosen preset. Furthermore, there are more than 80 other materials with automatic settings available through the Cricut Design Space software.
Silhouette Cameo 3 has a large LCD touch screen, which is very useful for minimizing mistakes and errors. It looks nice and intuitive, so it can encourage beginners to be more confident when learning. And, just like the Cricut machine, Silhouette Cameo 3 also has an automatic setting feature called the AutoBlade. When you use the AutoBlade feature, the unit will calibrate the blade settings automatically to suit the material.
Both Cricut Explore Air 2 and Silhouette Cameo 3 have built-in Bluetooth. So, you can pair them to your laptop or smartphone. By using the Bluetooth connectivity, you don’t need to plug your device to the cutting machine in order to design and cut. This is very convenient. You can start designed while lying on the sofa, then easily send your work to the cutter wirelessly without having to get up!
In terms of performance, the difference is very clear. Cricut Explore Air 2 is equipped with premium-quality German carbide blades, and it delivers precision cutting consistently. The accurate precision is something to be praised, as it is able to handle even the most intricate designs reliably.
In terms of performance, the difference is very clear. Cricut Explore Air 2 delivers precision cutting consistently. It has a higher cutting power and works faster.
Cricut Explore Air 2 has a higher cutting power. It can handle thicker and harder materials without a real problem. Cricut Explore Air 2 definitely works faster than Silhouette Cameo 3, thanks to the powerful dual carriage which enables writing and scoring (or writing and drawing) to be performed simultaneously in a single step. It also has the Fast Mode, which can be used on cardstock, vinyl, or iron-on materials.
Well, actually, Silhouette Cameo 3 also has dual carriage. However, the cutting power is noticeably weaker. It has a more difficult time when cutting a thick or hard material. It works more slowly.
Precision is also an issue with Silhouette Cameo 3. While the cutting results are generally good, it is not very accurate when cutting intricate designs. If the design has a narrow space between two cutting lines, there is a chance that the cuts will cross over. In short, you don’t want to use this model to handle complex and intricate designs.
Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3
- The Cricut Explore Air 2 is your personal DIY cutting machine
- 21 sheets (7 of each color) 12 in. X 12 in. Vinyl in White, black, and berry
- The Circuit tools scissors cut Cleanly with a micro - tip blade and provide precision cuts with all materials
- 26 Sheets of Permanent Oracal 651 Vinyl - 12 Inch x 12 Inch Each
- Autoblade - Auto Adjust Blade to Match Cut Job Material, 12 Inch x 12 Inch Cutting Mat, Vinyl Trimmer, Ratchet Adjustment Tool, Scraper Tool, Hook Tool
- Vinyl Instructional Guide by Silhouette School - Printed with Full Color Photos, Online Cameo 3 Instructional Class
These two models do have different pros and cons. However, in the end, Cricut Explore Air 2 is more recommended. It has a compact design, so it is more portable and space-friendly. It is very easy and practical to use. The cutting power is great, it works fast, and the precision is excellent.