Cricut Explore Air 2 Review – Can Vinyl Cutting Be This Easy?
Welcome to the Cricut Explore Air 2 Review!
After 12 hours of rigorous testing, I’m ready to share my findings of the Cricut Explore Air 2. To do this review, I’ve made many personal sacrifices, like skipping bedtime stories (sorry, honey…).
I discovered crafting after I left my corporate life. Through years of trials and errors, I’ve become an expert in card making, decal making, stencil creation, and many more.
The criteria that I’ve tested on the Explore Air 2 to create this review include cutting speed, precision, cutting power, user-friendliness, and maintenance cost.
Here are my preliminary findings. If you like a super easy-to-learn, affordable electric cutter that is low maintenance, and that can help you create greeting cards, decals, vinyl signs, etc., then the Explore Air 2 is the best choice for you.
Let me share with you the details, and let’s get this Cricut Explore Air 2 Review started.
|Editor’s Choice||Cricut Explore Air 2 ||Check on Cricut.com|
*Don’t forget to check the price on both websites as they may be running exclusive discounts.
What Will I Learn?
- Cricut Explore Air 2 Traits
- Look and Feel
- Double Speed
- Size and Weight
- Cricut Design Space Software
- Cricut Explore Air 2 Cutting Features
- Cutting Force
- Dual Carriage
- Blades and Cutting Depth
- Noise Level
- Tips and Tricks
- Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine Specs
- Cricut Explore Air 2 Cons
- Cricut Explore Air Color Options
- Cricut Explore Air 2 Review Conclusions and Final Thoughts
- Frequent questions from our readers (FAQ):
- Is the Cricut explore AIR 2 worth it?
- What can I do with Cricut explore AIR 2?
- What is better the Cricut AIR 2 or Cricut maker?
- Does Cricut Explore AIR 2 cut vinyl?
- How do I connect my Cricut explore AIR 2 machine to my computer?
- Can I use my Cricut without a subscription?
- How do I connect my Cricut explore AIR 2 machine to my laptop?
- How do I connect my Cricut explore AIR 2 to my computer via Bluetooth connectivity?
- How much does Cricut design space cost?
- What’s the size of a standard grip cutting mat?
- How many materials can you cut using the Cricut access cutter?
- Does this machine comes with a getting started guide?
- What is a smart set dial for this cutting machine?
- What are the main features of this Cricut cutting machine?
- Is the Cricut a smart cutting machine?
- Is Cricut Explore AIR 2 worth it?
- What can the Cricut explore AIR 2 do?
- Is Cricut explore AIR 2 easy to use?
- What are the best uses for the air 2 tool holder?
- Which Cricut is best?
- Why would you buy this old Cricut Explore Air 2 today?
- What can the Cricut Explore Air 2 cut?
- Is the Cricut Android App available?
The first thing that pops into my mind when I hear ‘Cricut’ is the slick design. The brand did an awesome job with it. Just take a look at the competition. Silhouette machines are too boxy, and the Brother’s LCD screen sticks out like a sore thumb.
Cricut Explore Air 2 Traits
Look and Feel
I never get tired of how the machine opens. The doors open with a bit of delay. On many occasions, I’ve caught my kids opening and closing the machine. I can’t blame them though: it’s a cool feature, and you want to see it do its thing over and over again.
If you check out the product iterations, they are different. From time to time, they make some design changes, but the differences happen under the hood. Every time they launch a new machine, something gets significantly better.
The first machine that came out was the Cricut Explore One. It put the Cricut on the map. After that came the Cricut Explore Air. As you have seen, there wasn’t a significant change in the design, but they added Dual Carriage (double tool holder) and wireless communication.
Then came the Cricut Explore Air 2. It brought double speed (aka fast mode). As a crafter who works on many complicated projects, 2x speed was a god-send. It’s not easy to go back to normal – as in snail speed – after that.
The New Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine in Red
The latest product is the flagship Cricut Maker. This machine has created its very own category. It has 4000g of cutting power (just for reference, other machines are in the 210-350g range). Maybe in the future, Silhouette will manage to catch up, announcing their Cameo 4 having 5000g of cutting power?
With a machine that powerful, a new world opens up for crafters. Harder, tougher, and thicker materials can be used with these machines, which means that more creation capabilities can be automated.
But enough said about this. Let’s go back to our Cricut Explore Air 2 Review
Size and Weight
This vinyl cutting machine is a decent sized one, and has significant weight to it. So make sure to use a sturdy workbench. Many crafters have a designated spot for their tools. If you don’t have one, then mind the weight. Moving it around left and right may be difficult.
I’ve noticed that Cricut machines tend to lean towards the heavier side. I’ve done a bunch of reviews and comparisons, and Cricut have outweighed them all. Maybe they use better quality parts; I have no clue about it.
That being said, the Cricut Explore Air 2 isn’t just a basic cutting machine. Yes, many competitors can cut and draw, and the Explore Air 2 offers so much more possibilities.
If you are looking for bundle deals, I recommend taking a look at the best cricut bundle deals page too.
Cricut Design Space Software
Typically, each brand has its own software, and third party tools are not allowed. With Cricut however, the managing software is called Cricut Design Space. It’s an online software which, presents numerous benefits and one major drawback.
First of all, you don’t need to install anything nor to worry whether it’s up to date or not. Second, it works on any device, at anytime, and without compatibility issues. But since it’s cloud-based, you need internet access to it. This means that if you have a dodgy or no internet at all, you can’t communicate with your Cricut.
Yes, they have tried fixing this by releasing an iOS app, but it’s not the real deal. The Android App is downloadable in the Google Play Store. Since we have started talking about Cricut Design Space, let me reveal more about it.
It’s by far the easiest software to learn on the market. It’s intuitive and very user-friendly. You can use SVG files without any hassle, or any extra payments what-so-ever. With the global online presence, it’s usually hard to protect your own work. And even here Cricut is different; it offers good privacy settings.
There was yet another complaint about the software: it tends to shrink designs a bit. I haven’t been able to confirm it, so I’ll let you to test it for yourself. All you have to do is set the parameters in the software, and measure the results after the project is finished.
If the end result is smaller, then try to adjust the dimensions accordingly. This would only be an issue if you needed something very specific.
Stay here! There’s more to be revealed in the Cricut Explore Air 2 Review.
Thanks to the Cricut Design Space software, you can create any handmade drawing, and turn it into a digital one. Once that’s done, you just replicate it as many time as you want to. For this, all you need is a digital camera, and since everybody has a smartphone in their pocket, it’s no issue at all.
Once you have finished your design, all you have to do is photograph it and upload it to the Design Space, and you’re all done! After that, the design behaves like any other design that you have created or bought.
Cricut Explore Air 2 Cutting Features
What sets the Cricut Explore Air 2 aside from the others is its cutting force. As previously mentioned most machines are limited to 210g of cutting power. The only machine that matches Cricut’s power is Brother’s Scan and Cut, which is set to 350g as well. Other than that, the Explore Air 2’s big brother, the Cricut Maker, is 4000g strong.
As you can see, it surpasses the rest. The more cutting power a machine has, the more easily it cuts materials. Also, it can cut tougher and thicker materials. This is why it can handle more than 100 different ones. But more on this later.
The cutting size is fair (11.5 X 23.5 inches), which is ample space for most crafters.
A features I dearly love is the Dual Carriage. It has already been introduced in the first generation of Explore Air products.
Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine Dual Carriage in Action (pen tool and cutting tool)
The double tool holder means that you can use two tools at the same time. So, you can easily draw and cut. All you have to do is set up the machine and let it do its job. Meanwhile, you can do different tasks, and you don’t have to babysit the machine and waste your time.
Be aware, if you get used to this feature, you won’t be able to live without it.
Blades and Cutting Depth
The material thickness size is decent. 2mm is the standard for these machines.
Warning: don’t confuse this number with cutting depth. For example, the Silhouette Cameo has a cutting depth of 1.2mm, and Cricut Maker has one of 2.4mm. For the Silhouette, the material thickness is set to 2mm as well. Does this mean that the Silhouette is better than the Maker? You can read my comparison on this page.
On both machines, quality blades are made out of German carbide. If you haven’t heard of them before, the German carbide steel is ultra resistant.
On the Explore Air 2 you can also connect to the device wirelessly. This means that by having Bluetooth technology, you can connect and control your Cricut machine. I just love cordless connectivity; it reduces accidents. This is especially important if you have kids or pets in the house.
If you get tangled in wires, you can easily pull on the machine, or maybe even break it. So, I give a bonus point for cordless connectivity.
Now, the marketing material mentions that it can work with 100+ material. Well, it’s not a lie. After testing it over and over, the best materials to use with the Cricut Explore Air 2 are paper, vinyl, and cardboard. Sure, it can cut multiple materials, but there’s a huge learning curve for those. It takes a lot of patience to get it right. This is why I recommend the use these three materials.
Before I bought my own Cricut, I had a major hang-up; these machines are usually loud. If you get yourself a Cricut, rest assured that it’s not true. The noise level is acceptable, as compared to other brands, which are much louder than the Cricut. Maybe this is where the heavier parts come into play.
Finally the biggest upgrade since the first Explore Air is its speed. You can select the double speed (fast mode) for your project. This saves a lot of time, and you get quickly used to it. Sometimes, it’s even hard to use the machine in normal mode because it gives the impression that it’s working in slow motion.
Warning: by activating the 2x speed, you are forfeiting the low noise level. The faster the machine moves, the more sound it creates. Also, it’s a good idea to check your design first. If it’s a complicated design, you might want to leave it on normal speed, so the cut is as perfect as, it can be.
Also one of the biggest problems with these machines is the cost of ownership. For example, Brother charges sky-high prices for their accessories, and some crafters reported that they need to change tools frequently.
This is not the case with Cricut. The accessories are the cheapest on the market and they tend to work for long hours.
Tips and Tricks
Here’s a hot tip for you. If you find your cutting mat extremely sticky, put a T-shirt on and voilá, it’s done! The cutting mat will be less sticky and easier to use.
I know the price is a bit high, and think about how much you’re saving with cheaper accessories.
Well, I’m about to wrap up my Cricut Explore Air 2 review. So, let’s see what we have learned so far.
|Best for Beginners||Cricut Explore Air 2 ||Check on Cricut.com|
Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine Specs
|Size||24 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches|
|Transform Images to Design||Cricut Design Space|
|Cutting Size||11.5 X 23.5 inches|
|Max Material Thickness||2mm|
|Number of materials||100+|
Cricut Explore Air 2 Cons
The biggest issue that I could find is the Design Space software. It doesn’t work without an online connection, plus it tends to shrink designs. And last but not least, there’s a subscription model for the designs ($4.99 and $9.99). With this monthly fee you get access to over 60,000 designs.
In a way, it’s forced, and I don’t like that part.
These are the negatives I could find for the Cricut Explore Air 2.
As you know there’s already a newer Cricut product on the market: the Cricut Maker. It’s a great machine, but with its 4000g cutting power, you will be tempted to try multiple materials. You might waste time and not focus on your business.
If you have a tendency (like me!) to look for shiny objects, theExplore Air 2 will be just a fine choice for you.
It has a big analog switch which helps you select the material you are working on. If you are using the same material over and over, then you don’t need to move the switch. This saves time because on the software you need to select what are you working on every time.
Cricut Explore Air Color Options
It’s a slick design, and it comes in 8 different colors (like baby blue). They maybe went overboard because the Maker only has 4.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine Full-color spectrum
Cricut Explore Air 2 Review Conclusions and Final Thoughts
It’s a great tool, and a reliable one at that. It’s easy to get started, and you can get your first sales super-fast.
It’s an excellent machine if you’re working with paper, vinyl, and cardboard. It can work with other materials, but it’s much harder. I would suggest mastering these first, and then moving on to more exotic ones.
The price is ok, and the accessories that come with it are the cheapest ones on the market. And these babies last a long time!
Finally, it’s simple and easy to use thanks to the intuitive software. That concludes it!
- [CREATE MORE] The Cricut Explore Air 2 is your personal DIY cutting machine. It will flawlessly cut over 100+ different types of materials including premium vinyl, iron-on and htv vinyl, cardstock, faux leather, adhesive foils, specialty paper, poster board and more
- [ENDLESS PROJECT POSSIBILITIES] The Cricut Explore Air 2 makes it so easy to create a wide arrange of DIY projects. Make custom stickers, personalized home decor, home-made gifts and party favors, unique greeting cards, custom designed apparel, and more
- [INCLUDED WITH MACHINE] Each machine includes a Cricut Premium Fine Point Blade and Housing, a Cricut 12 inch x12 inch LightGrip Adhesive Cutting Mat (perfect for vinyl and htv projects), a Cricut Black Fine Point Pen, access to Cricut's design software Design Space, and a 2-week free trial to Cricut Access
The Cricut Explore Air 2 made it in my best of the best article. Check it out on the Best Electronic Cutting Machine post.
This concludes my circut explore air 2 review. If you want to learn more here’s the official page.
If you have feedback or any question, please, ask them below.
Frequent questions from our readers (FAQ):
Is the Cricut explore AIR 2 worth it?
The Cricut explore AIR 2 is worth it. If you want to learn the ropes without investing a ton of money than the Explore air 2 craft cutting machine will be a great choice. To extend your abilities you can also check out a heat press like the Cricut Easy Press 2 for iron on vinyl
What can I do with Cricut explore AIR 2?
With the Cricut explore AIR 2 you can cut so many different materials that you won’t believe. With the deep point blade you’re looking to cut different materials such as: vinyl iron, bonded fabric, heat transfer vinyl, vinyl decals, pattern paper, glitter paper, poster boards and spider webs or thick materials like leather, balsa wood cherry blossom.
What is better the Cricut AIR 2 or Cricut maker?
There’s no doubt that between the two cricut machines the cricut maker is better than the cricut explore air 2. It’s newer and it offers a wide range of options. It can cut more than a hundred materials. Plus it comes with cutting tools for your craft room: deep point blade, deep cut blade, rotary blade. There are no cartridge packs and more than enough storage compartment. However it’s not always in stock. The last time I had to wait more than two months and the support was clueless when they will get a new shipment.
Does Cricut Explore AIR 2 cut vinyl?
Yes Cricut Explore Air 2 cuts vinyl with ease. Plus it has 2x speed so it’s faster than other machines as well.
How do I connect my Cricut explore AIR 2 machine to my computer?
You have two options to connect your computer to the Cricut Explore Air 2. You can connect via USB cable or through Bluetooth connectivity. It’s simple straight forward process. The internet connection is must because the design features are only available there. For extra graphic design options you can go with adobe illustrator. Once you have internet connection you can use internet explorer or any other browser.
Can I use my Cricut without a subscription?
Yes you can it’s free to use the Cricut and its software. You only have to pay if you want to use Cricut’s library for fonts and designs.
How do I connect my Cricut explore AIR 2 machine to my laptop?
The same way as described above for the computer. You either choose the USB cord or the Bluetooth option (Bluetooth connectivity). The rest is done by the software wizard.
How do I connect my Cricut explore AIR 2 to my computer via Bluetooth connectivity?
It’s simple all you need to do is to power on Cricut Explore Air 2 then in your laptop settings find Bluetooth and find the device. Pair and you are done. Just in case if it asks for a password use 0000. After the connection is made you will need internet connection to finish the procedure. Even with a test project you will need internet connection. This cricut machine is simply amazing. There’s an ios app for it as well. If you’re looking to cut different materials and value printing power and design flexibility the cricut air 2 will serve you great.
How much does Cricut design space cost?
If you choose the monthly subscription then it’s $9.99 if you go for the annual onetime payment than it will be $7.99 ($95.88 yearly) and if you choose the Premium than $9.99 ($119.88 yearly). Check you the perks below.
What’s the size of a standard grip cutting mat?
It’s 12 inches by 24 inches.
How many materials can you cut using the Cricut access cutter?
These Cricut Cutting machines can cut over 100 different materials thanks to its german carbide premium blade. You won’t believe the types of materials it can cut. Just check out the machine reviews. All this without Cricut cartridges.
Does this machine comes with a getting started guide?
Yes, this machine comes with one to help you start on the right foot with all those different types of materials.
What is a smart set dial for this cutting machine?
This Cricut cutting machine comes with a smart set dial. This will help you select the right settings with the material you’re working with. Plus once you’ve set the smart set dial it stays that way.
What are the main features of this Cricut cutting machine?
First of all, it’s easy to use no learning curve. The smart set dial sets the right parameters for the cut. This machine comes with a double tool holder and smart cutting enabled. It has print then cut feature with a scoring stylus. The design software is easy to use. You can online design free images. It can cut all types of materials like poster board and cardstock sample. Explore air machines are also known as craft cutting machines.
Is the Cricut a smart cutting machine?
Yes, all Cricuts are smart cutting machines. I would love for the power cord to be longer.
Is Cricut Explore AIR 2 worth it?
Yes, the Cricut Explore AIR 2 is a great cutter for beginners. It’s fast and fairly easy to use. They use carbide premium blade which means that they will last a long time it’s one of the few vinyl cutter machines that do it.
What can the Cricut explore AIR 2 do?
The Cricut explore AIR 2 can cut over 100 materials.
Is Cricut explore AIR 2 easy to use?
Yes, it’s one of the easiest to use vinyl cutting machine. If you’re looking for ease of use you have found the perfect cricut machine. It looks like it can cut a hundred different materials.
What are the best uses for the air 2 tool holder?
The tool holder as the name suggests it hold all your cutting tools: deep point blade, bonded fabric blade, deep cut blade. The cut settings are easy to master. With a test project you can make vinyl decals. It looks like that to cut thick materials you’ll need a cricut machine like the air 2. One of the most popular color option is the baby blue. You can set up your test project in a jiffy.
Which Cricut is best?
The Cricut Maker is the best overall, but for beginners in our opinion the Cricut Explore Air 2 is a great choice for design flexibility. Can you use the machine without the trial membership? Yes you can. It’s ideal for home use since the acetate pinwheels hold down perfectly iron ons and matte black vinyl.
Why would you buy this old Cricut Explore Air 2 today?
First of all, there’s the user experience. It can do cutting and writing on paper crafts. If you’re in the market you can use it on a wide variety of craft materials. The double tool holder houses the fine point blade and the scoring stylus. It cuts over 100 different materials. Can you imagine 100 different materials? That’s a huge variety of materials and it’s not just for die cutting. You can lace stationery designs, vinyl cardstock, create a wide variety of snowflake designs. Plus the maker costs way more than this cutter. There’s more than enough storage space in the storage compartments. Did you know that there are hidden storage compartments? The old model relied on the cartridge system and cartridge port. The fine point blade (german carbide premium blade) is perfect for die cutting. The most popular color options are: cherry blossom, mint green and sky blue. If I had to pick I would go with mint green or cherry blossom. My favorite material is the matte black vinyl.
What can the Cricut Explore Air 2 cut?
As mentioned above the Cricut Explore Air 2 can cut a wide variety of materials. It’s perfect for home use and sewing projects. The double tool holder (tool holders) was designed to speed up your work. The cutting width 11.5″ wide. The Cricut Maker has the cutting width set to 12″ (12 x 12). The explore air 2 can cut light and medium weight materials like no one else. The matte black is amazing on shirts. The maximum cutting width is set to 11.5 inches and that can’t be changed. And it can cut iron on vinyl with ease and you can use it in fast mode. 12 x 12 or 12 x 24 inches is the right cutting size.
Is the Cricut Android App available?
Yes the Cricut Andorid App is downloadable on Google Play.
Last Updated on February 23, 2021 by Emily