For people who are interested in getting a cutting machine, Cricut is an excellent brand to consider. It offers high-quality products with innovative features. In this article, we will discuss about Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Maker, two of the highest models with built-in Bluetooth. So, what is the difference between them? Which one is better for the money?
Read on below to learn more about:
- The dimensions of each Cricut model
- The available connection options on each Cricut model
- The distinctive capabilities and features of the two machines
- The max cutting size of Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Maker
- The cutting speed, accuracy, and precision of the two models
- Which Cricut cutting machine that is more recommended
Dimensions and Design
If your work desk has a very limited space, or if you want to be able to bring your cutting machine along, then you probably want your cutting machine to be as portable as possible. It should be compact and lightweight enough so that it will not become a problematic device to work with. Now, let’s take a look at the design and dimensions of Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Maker.
Although Cricut Maker comes with bigger dimensions than Cricut Explore Air 2, it also offers a number of improvements.
Coming with a weight of 16 pounds and dimensions of 24” x 9.5” x 9.5”, Cricut Explore Air 2 is a smart-looking cutting machine. From the design alone, you can already tell that this machine is a DIY machine designed for quick and precise cuts. It will give you the freedom to make any project and work on over 100 different materials. Also worth a note, the company has designed this model to be compatible with Cricut’s mobile apps.
Cricut Explore Air 2 is available in several color choices, including green, blue, and pink. These are very light colors. As a result, they look cute and modern. There are also variants in sky blue, matte black, and gold, which all look gorgeous, but are more difficult to find. You may choose your favorite color, or try to match the color with the rest of your equipment.
Compared to Cricut Maker, Cricut Explore Air 2 is indeed smaller and lighter. So, if you want your cutting machine to be as compact and lightweight as possible, Cricut Explore Air 2 is the obvious answer. Still, let’s take a look at Cricut Maker as well.
You can still say that Cricut Maker is compact and lightweight. It only measures 22.6 inches x 7.1 inches x 6.2 inches with a weight of about 24 pounds. It does appear bulkier than Cricut Explore Air 2, but it is not that big. If you think that your desk can accommodate a slightly larger model, why not?
Cricut Maker is the latest model from the company, and it has undergone a major change from the previous models. Well, it is still a recognizable Cricut model, but it does not look like the previous models at all. It doesn’t have the material selection dial anymore. It looks very attractive with the diamond-polished champagne aluminum lid. (See also : Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3)
Removing the material selection dial is actually a good move. As a matter of fact, many people don’t use the dial’s presets often, so it is more of a clutter instead of a shortcut. There is another difference, which is the big ridge along the top of the unit. This ridge is meant to support your smartphone or tablet while you are working. This is a truly brilliant design! Many people do work with their smartphones or tablets.
As an added bonus, Cricut Maker also provides a charging port. If your mobile device’s battery is going low, and the charging cable can’t reach the power source, just plug it to the cutting machine. So convenient.
Finally, Cricut Maker comes with a larger storage drawer. It features two tool cups (Cricut Explore Air 2 only has one), so you can put and organize your tools right on the unit. The company has put a great deal of attention to the design – the bottom of each cup is lined with rubber, so your blades won’t get dulled when you put them down.
As you can see, although Cricut Maker comes with bigger dimensions, it also offers a number of improvements. If the slightly increased dimensions don’t give you a trouble, Cricut Maker can be a much better choice for you.
As usual, both Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Maker come with a USB port to connect to a computer. The necessary USB cable is included in the box, so you can get started immediately. First of all, download and install the Cricut Design Space software on your computer. Note that this software is only compatible with Windows and Mac devices.
Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Maker come with USB and Bluetooth. However, Cricut Maker has a charging port for mobile devices.
Once you have installed the software, you can connect your Cricut cutting machine to the computer. You can start to design a project and send it to the machine to be printed and cut.
Both models also come with built-in Bluetooth. Unlike the previous models, which either need an external adapter or are unable to connect directly to mobile devices, both Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Maker can connect to smartphones and tablets over Bluetooth. In order to work and cut from your mobile device, you need to download and install the Cricut Design Space mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android.
Compared to the desktop version, the mobile app is clearly more limited. Some of the advanced functions and features are not available. However, the mobile app is already quite useful when you just want to show a design or mockup to someone, or if you want to be productive and create some designs while waiting in a queue.
Of course, the difference between these two models is the charging port, which has been mentioned in the previous section. Cricut Explore Air 2 has neither the mobile device docking station nor the charging port. Cricut Maker is a lot more mobile-friendly with the docking station and charging port, even though this port does not appear to allow data transfer or communication.
There is one important thing about Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Maker: they use different cartridges! The Explore Air 2 still uses the old Cricut cartridges. So, if you already have some cartridges from a previous Cricut machine, you can use them on the Explore Air 2. This is convenient and efficient.
Cricut Maker uses a different type of cartridge. It is still possible for you to utilize your old cartridges by utilizing an adapter.
Cricut Maker uses a different type of cartridge. This new cartridge offers new amazing features, as you’ll see below. However, it also means that Cricut Maker is not compatible with the old cartridges – at least not by default.
Fortunately, with Cricut Maker, it is still possible for you to utilize your old cartridges. You just need to purchase and equip the cartridge adapter. In other words, you have to spend a little more money if you really want to use your old catridges. However, the cartridge adapter is worth the price if you have several old cartridges that you can still use.
In terms of features and capabilities, Cricut Maker is such a huge upgrade over Cricut Explore Air 2. From the new model, we can see how the company has carefully evaluated old designs and create new innovations. Cricut Maker has most of the features of Cricut Explore Air 2, while also coming with new additions.
For sure, both Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Maker do allow you to create and upload your own images for free. You don’t have to pay anything in order to be able to upload your designs to the cloud-based software. This is convenient and also relieving to some users.
Both of the two models are able to cut more than 100 kinds of materials. That’s quite an impressive feat. On Cricut Explore Air 2, you can choose the setting preset for the material you are currently working with. However, the presets are only available for a few materials. They tend to make you lazy. Some people simply use an unsuitable preset instead of adjusting the settings manually when working with a different material. This leads to unoptimum results.
Cricut Maker doesn’t have the material selection dial. It will ask you about what material that you are using every before cutting. This way, you are encouraged to use the right settings so that you can get the optimum results whenever you work.
Cricut Maker comes with a rotary blade and a knife blade. It is basically an adaptive tool system.
The first new feature of Cricut Maker is the rotary blade. It allows yo to cut patterns and fabric with dramatically better results. Well, with Cricut Explore Air 2, you indeed can cut fabric, but this requires a stabilizer or backing. Even so, Cricut Explore Air 2 won’t give you perfectly clean cuts. Cricut Maker can do that easily, thanks to the rotary blade.
Cricut Maker also comes with a significantly more powerful knife blade. This blade is said to be able to cut with 10x more pressure, so that it can penetrate through thicker and sturdier materials up to 2.4mm thick. If you often work with such heavy-duty materials, Cricut Maker is a very good choice.
Finally, note that Cricut Maker is basically an adaptive tool system. From now on, the company probably will not release new blades for the old models that still use old cartridges. If you want to be able to use he latest blades and attachments in the future, Cricut Maker makes a better bet. Think of it as a long-term investment.
Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Maker have similar cutting dimensions. According to the specifications, they are able to cut a maximum area of 12 inches wide and 24 inches long. However, in the real world, their cutting dimensions are closer to 11.5 inches wide and 23.5 inches long.
This is not bad, but this is also not impressive. With such a limited cutting size, you can only make relatively small designs. You cannot print and cut on a paper roll. Nevertheless, this is probably sufficient for most home hobbyists. It is one of the best cutting sizes that you can get from a compact desktop unit.
But, then again, both Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Maker also have another weakness. If you import your own designs and then use the Print Then Cut function, the maximum cutting size is much smaller. It depends on your browser, though.
If you are using Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer, you can get a maximum cutting size of 6 inches by 8.5 inches. However, if you are using Google Chrome, the maximum cutting size is 5.5 inches by 8 inches.
Both models have the Fast Mode. In this mode, the machine operates at a significantly faster pace, without compromising the accuracy or cut quality. However, this mode is only available when you are working on cardstock, vinyl, or iron-on.
In general, both Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Maker are accurate and fairly fast. The differences appear only when handling specific materials.
As mentioned above, Cricut Explore Air 2 does not handle fabric and the likes very well. It does not really give a clean cut. Furthermore, Cricut Explore 2 is not really suitable for handling thick, tough materials.
Cricut Maker gives much better results when cutting fabric and the likes. Its rotary blade allows the unit to cut fabric cleanly and smoothly. In addition, Cricut Maker also works much more quickly than the Explore Air 2 when cutting a thick, tough material.
Cricut Maker is not only about the speed or power. The precision blades are truly impressive. It is able to cut complex and intricate designs with excellent accuracy and precision. You will also love the fact that Cricut Maker allows you to use colored or patterned paper sheets to cut your designs. Last but not least, Cricut Maker is so smart – it can automatically tell you when you are not using the right blade for the material.
For example, if you are using the knife blade to cut a piece of fabric, it will tell you to switch to the rotary blade. This will save you some time and money from wasted materials.
Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Maker
- The Cricut Explore Air 2 is your personal DIY cutting machine. Make custom vinyl stickers, personalized home decor, unique greeting cards, custom designed apparel, and more
- Upload your own images for free or choose from Cricut's vast library of pre-made designs and projects
- Design anywhere. Free access to Cricut's simple design software, Design Space. Create and design from your computer, tablet or mobile phone using the Cricut Design App for iOS and Android devices
- Make the perfect cut every time. The Smart Set Dial ensures that your machine cuts at the correct depth and pressure for any type of material
- Cricut Maker gives you the freedom to make everything from paper crafts, iron-ons, and vinyl decals to sewing projects, leather crafts, and balsa models
- Expandable suite of tools. With its powerful blades, pens, and scoring tool, Cricut Maker grows with you as you learn each new craft
- New Rotary Blade. With its gliding, rolling action, this blade cuts through virtually any fabric quickly and accurately – without backing material
- New Knife Blade (sold separately; coming in 2018). This extra-deep blade slices through heavier materials like 2.4mm (3/32”) balsa wood and matboard with ease
In general, Cricut Maker is the more recommended choice. It can give you an excellent value for the money, thanks to the new features and improved performance. It is more mobile-friendly with the docking station and charging port. The rotary blade makes better cuts on fabric, and the knife blade offers more power for cutting thick, sturdy materials.