Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo – Which Machine Will Rule?
There’s a big problem with product iteration.
In most cases, they change the number at the end of the product’s name. Is this true? There aren’t any significant differences between Cameo 2 and 3? What about Cricut Air 1 and 2?
This is what I’ve decided to investigate. Plus, if you are planning to buy an electric cutting machine, you will find out which one would fit your needs best.
|Editor’s Choice||Cricut Explore Air 2 ||Check on Cricut.com|
|Silhouette Cameo 4 |
*Don’t forget to check the price on both websites as they may be running exclusive discounts.
What Will I Learn?
- Silhouette Cameo 3 Vs Cricut Explore Air 2 machine specs
- Look and feel of both machines (size, weight)
- Silhouette Design Studio Vs. Cricut Design Space
- Vinyl cutting machine capabilities compared
- What is the difference in cutting force?
- Cutting capabilities
- Dual Carriage
- Auto Blade
- Cross Cut
- Wireless connection setup and issues
- Noise levels compared
- Accessories and replacement pricing matched
- Cricut Explore Air 2 shortcomings
- Silhouette Cameo 3 Shortcomings
- Closing thoughts on Silhouette Cameo 3 Vs Cricut Explore Air 2
- Frequent questions from our readers (FAQ):
- Can I use silhouette vinyl on Cricut?
- Can Cricut vinyl go in the dishwasher?
- Are Cricut and Silhouette supplies interchangeable?
- Can you cut without a mat on Cricut?
- Is the Cricut Maker also a good alternative?
- Does Cricut make permanent vinyl?
- Did you write a Silhouette Cameo 4 review too?
Before we get into the details, here’s the bird’s eye view of the Cricut Explore Air 2 Vs the Silhouette Cameo comparison.
Silhouette Cameo 3 Vs Cricut Explore Air 2 machine specs
|Cricut Explore Air 2|
|Size||24 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches||22.5 x 6 x 8.5 inches|
|Weight||17.3 pounds||13.95 pounds|
|Cutting Force||350g||210 grams|
|Cutting Size||11.5 X 23.5 inches||12 inches x 10 feet|
|Max Material Thickness||2mm||2mm|
Look and feel of both cutting machines
Let’s look at the design of these cutting machines. I personally like the Cricut because it’s much more stylish. The Cameo looks more like a with sharp corners. I guess this is how the Model-T looked like.
The funny thing is that there are not that many differences, design-wise, between the Explore and the Explore Air 2. It’s the same slick looking machine, though they have created 8 different color variations.
On the other hand, Silhouette made some changes on their latest machine. First, the LCD screen is now covered with plastic, which protects the screen. You don’t want to accidentally drop something on it. If the LCD cracks, it’s much cheaper to buy a new machine than to replace the broken component.
So far, one has no design change, and the other has some. Ok, then what’s under the hood?
Are there any differences?
Keep reading, and you will find out.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in other vinyl cutters, check out our best vinyl cutting machines page.
Look and feel of both machines (size, weight)
Looking at the sizes, it looks like the Cameo 3 is a bit smaller than the Cricut. Most workbenches will accommodate nicely on either machine. So, the size doesn’t make any difference.
If you look at the weight, however, the Explore is almost 4 lbs. heavier. Now, this reminds me of a funny story. People have the pre-conceived notion that if something is heavier, it is of better quality.
This theory was tested not long ago at an electronics shop, where the seller rigged a few remotes by adding some lead weights to them. It was the same brand, the same remote, only one had lead weight, and the other didn’t. Most customers said that the heaviest remotes were of superior quality than the lightest ones. Interesting, and makes me giggle.
Either way, let’s continue our comparison.
Weight is normally not an issue if you don’t have to move it around much. If you don’t have a regular workbench, and you have to move the machine a lot, then you might want to pick the lighter one. Also, keep in mind that if you are going to exhibitions and sell outside of your house, somebody has to carry that heavy machine.
Overall, both machines are excellently created to cut and draw. If this is your interest, then you have found the best machines for the job. But which one should you choose? I will tell you in a bit.
There are different pen tools and blades for you to use. This really comes down to the job that you want to do.
Silhouette Design Studio Vs. Cricut Design Space
Both brands have created a good design software, and both of them have pros and cons. Let’s dig deeper, and see which is the best fit for you.
The operating software is different on the two machines. First of all, Silhouette Studio is an offline software, while Cricut Design Space is an online one. In this modern age, you will get a CD with your Silhouette machine, although most laptops and desktops nowadays don’t even come with a CD-ROM reader.
Typically, the design software that comes with the package is outdated, and you have to update it through their website either way. So, if you are like me and don’t have a CD-ROM reader, then don’t worry about it. Just go online, and download the latest version.
On the other hand, Cricut Design Space is cloud-based and is accessible on any device. You don’t have to install or update anything. It’s done for you through the cloud.
Can you digitize handmade design patterns? Yes, and for this, you need a digital camera. This shouldn’t be a problem since nowadays, everybody has a smartphone. Once you have finished your design, just take a photo, and upload it to your software. After that, the machine can do its bidding.
Since we are already talking about the design software, let’s dig deeper. After thoroughly testing both, it’s safe to say that Cricut Design Space is the best one. As in Design Studio is easier and more user-friendly.
The main problem with Silhouette Studio Software is that the learning curve is big. You need to go through a lot of trials and errors before you get it right. On the other hand, Silhouette Design Studio feels intuitive. You get the ropes almost instantly.
It seems like Silhouette Design Studio is the best… Or is it?
With all the convenience and ease to use, there’s a part that most reviewers leave out. You need a constant internet connection to manage your machine. Yes, if you don’t have internet access, you can’t control your machine nor create designs.
Even though the internet is widespread, make sure you check the place where you’re going to exhibit. If you don’t, you might get a nasty surprise. There’s nothing worse than receiving order after order, and not being able to execute them because of a bad or no internet connection at all.
This is a serious point to consider.
Do you know what’s the true test of power when it comes to electric cutting machines?
Vinyl cutting machine capabilities compared
What is the difference in cutting force?
The Cricut has 350g of cutting force, while the Silhouette has 250g. You may have noticed that Silhouette isn’t leading the charge with innovations. I mean, the Cameo 2 has the same cutting power as the Cameo 3, yet many years have passed since they have released the Cameo 2.
The math is simple; the higher the cutting power, the better the cutting jobs. Plus, it can cut deeper, and can tackle different materials, like balsa wood or leather.
Just to add insult to injury, Silhouette has released the Curio. This machine is supposed to emboss, etch, etc. And guess what? It has the same cutting power as the Cameo 3 (210g), though this might change soon, when they reveal the Cameo 4, which is said to have a cutting force of 5000g.
Just as a comparison, the Cricut Maker’s flagship product has a cutting force of 4000g. This machine blows the competition out of the water. It’s about time that Silhouette innovates.
Related: Best Cricut bundle
Do you want to see how Cameo compares to the Big Brother? Check it out here.
Let’s take a look at the cutting size. The Cricut Explore has a smaller cutting size by half an inch. On the other hand, Silhouette has a feeder add-on, which you can purchase, and it can handle up to 10 feet of material. This is… Wow! 10 feet is long.
I absolutely love this feature; it’s called the Dual Carriage. It allows you to handle two steps at once. Both machines have this feature, and it’s a real time saver. The machines can draw and cut at the same time. Once you set up the steps, you can let the machine do its thing, and go do something else. That way, you don’t have to babysit your machine and waste time getting the next step started.
Once you get used to this feature, you can’t go back. It’s as simple as that.
Now, the Silhouette Cameo 3 has two features that the Cricut Explore Air 2 doesn’t have. The first one is the Auto Blade. The software can figure out what kind of material you are using, so it will automatically use the right pressure for it. In Cricut’s case, you have to manually select it.
If you’re working with the same material, then all you have to do is set the dial to the right option, and it will remain that way until you move it.
The second feature is the Cross Cut. This is a simple blade that can horizontally cut paper, vinyl, etc. It’s fast and clean; way better than using scissors.
Both machines can handle the same thickness of materials: 2mm. As you know, crafters tend to push the limits. Certain materials are soft enough to cut through, even if it’s thicker than 2mm.
So, forget about cutting thicker, harder materials. You are risking damaging your machine, and I’m not sure if the warranty covers these tests.
Wireless connection setup and issues
The Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Silhouette Cameo 3 are advertised as cordless machines. Thanks to Bluetooth connection, you can communicate with your machine. This looks fine and dandy in the brochure, but does it actually work? Sadly, it fails miserably with the Cameo.
I don’t know about you, but how can you make something a selling point and not sufficiently debug it? Many crafters have complained that they simply didn’t manage to get the Bluetooth connection going.
What about Cricut? It simply works, so you don’t have to be afraid of tripping over wires and such.
Both cutting machines advertise that they can cut 100+ materials. Here are the facts. The best things to cut with the Silhouette Cameo are paper and vinyl. And the best things to cut with the Cricut Explore are paper, vinyl, and cardboard.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t cut other materials; it just means that you will be more successful if you focus on these. For harder materials, you will need to do your own tests and learn from your mistakes. Once you have gotten through the learning curve, you will know for sure what can and can’t be cut.
Noise levels compared
This is the bane of all Silhouette machines; they are loud. There’s nothing to do besides having a shed or soundproofing. If you plan to work during the evenings, then I would suggest picking a machine that is quieter.
Cricut, on the other hand, makes some noise, but it’s much more acceptable. The best thing to compare the sound level to is an old printer.
With the Cricut Explore Air 2, they have enabled double speed. Although, this comes with a sacrifice. When the Cricut machine works at 2x speed, it’s louder than at normal speed.
It’s advised to use 2x speed with easy designs. With intricate ones however, the cut might be too superficial. I haven’t experienced that so far though. It cuts great, and it saves time.
Accessories and replacement pricing matched
The last subject I will touch base on is accessories pricing. You always want to know what the cost of ownership is. Well, Cricut accessories are the cheapest ones on the market, so I consider this one as the best tool. Meanwhile, Silhouette is priced averagely. So, if you are on a budget, Cricut is a safe bet.
However, the price difference is minimal, but you need a constant internet connection with Cricut. Since the Explore Air 2 isn’t the latest generation, you might be interested in how it compares to the flagship model.
Now, let’s talk about the negatives. Without negatives, this wouldn’t be a real Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. Silhouette Cameo 3 comparison.
Cricut Explore Air 2 shortcomings
First up is Cricut. The major disappointment with this machine is the constant need for internet connection. Even though there’s an offline iOS app, it doesn’t do it justice.
The other negative is Cricut Design Space Software; you have to pay a monthly fee to get access to fonts and designs. Normally, it wouldn’t matter, but it’s forced upon you, which I don’t like.
Silhouette Cameo 3 Shortcomings
With Silhouette, there’s nothing new besides the facelift. It’s still the same cutting power, the same tools, and that’s it. Also, the Bluetooth connection doesn’t work.
Plus, there’s some sneakiness with Silhouette Studio as well. The software is free, up to a certain point. Indeed, if you want to handle SVG files, you need to get a paid business license.
Closing thoughts on Silhouette Cameo 3 Vs Cricut Explore Air 2
This comparison is coming to an end. Let’s review the pros and cons that have we learned about these two machines.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 has nothing new on the surface, but under the hood… Wow! It has Dual Carriage, cordless connection, 2x speed, and more cutting force.
On the other hand, the Silhouette Cameo 3 had a nice facelift, but nothing new under the hood. Plus, they have released another machine that’s trying to keep up with Cricut’s flagship machine.
The evidence speaks for itself. If you have a good and steady internet connection, then Cricut will be the best option for you. However, if the internet is dodgy, then you are safer with the Silhouette. Or you can eventually wait for the Cameo 4, and see if it’s a better fit, although the price will be higher because it’ll be a new release.
|Editor’s Choice||Cricut Explore Air 2 ||Check on Cricut.com|
|Silhouette Cameo 4 |
*Don’t forget to check the price on both as they may be running exclusive discounts.
This is the ending for the Cricut Explore Air 2 Vs Silhouette Cameo 3 comparison. My last gift for you 165 new design ideas for Explore Air 2, found to Pinterest.
- 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 Light Grip 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 silhouette Cameo 4 is the evolution in desktop cutting. The sleek Backlit touch panel lets you load, unload, and pause your projects in style. Conveniently stored in the machine's compact pull-out drawer is a new built in roll feeder for quickly cutting vinyl and heat transfer material directly from a roll. On the back of the Cameo 4 You will find a built in cross cutter allowing for a clean straight edge cut on your vinyl roll for your next project.
- The Cameo unique dual carriage allows for tool Type detection. The machine's ultra-smart system uses tool sensor technology that detects what tool you are using which then triggers the silhouette Studio software to adjust cut settings automatically.
- The Cameo 4 stands apart from previous models with the new dual motor system, which allows you to cut in two distinct ways. Carriage one provides the Cameo 4 with unparalleled speed. It is operated from a solenoid motor that gives makers smooth and intricate cuts. Cameo 4 can cut or sketch up to 3x faster than previous models without sacrificing accuracy. Carriage two is operated by an entirely different style of motor that allows for unprecedented power.
Frequent questions from our readers (FAQ):
Can I use silhouette vinyl on Cricut?
Since vinyl is universal no matter which machine you have bought it for it’s ok to use it with Cricut.
Can Cricut vinyl go in the dishwasher?
At the moment there is no dishwasher safe vinyl. Even Cricut’s premium vinyl isn’t dishwasher safe.
Are Cricut and Silhouette supplies interchangeable?
A cutting mat is a cutting mat so that’s easy to interchange. Now for the rest, you should always check the warranty. After that see if the blades are the same size.
Can you cut without a mat on Cricut?
Yes, it’s possible and quite easy if you are using vinyl. You need to put it in the right settings. After that make sure that the exterior rollers hold the vinyl down tight. Also, take into consideration that you will be using around 1 inch of material since there’s no mat to compensate.
Is the Cricut Maker also a good alternative?
Yes, I’ve written a Cricut vs Cameo post about it.
Does Cricut make permanent vinyl?
Yes, Cricut creates their very own premium vinyl called: Cricut Premium Permanent Vinyl.
Did you write a Silhouette Cameo 4 review too?
Yes, you can read it on my website.
Last Updated on January 21, 2021 by Emily