Best of the best Silhouette Portrait vs Cameo comparison

Silhouette Cameo vs Portrait which machine is the best choice for you?


Silhouette Portrait vs Cameo

Here’s another post putting two Silhouette cutters head to head (Silhouette Portrait and Cameo).

By the end of this, you will know which will fit you like a glove.

They are similar die cutting machines. So before we get down and dirty check out the comparison chart.

At a first glimpse, Silhouette Portrait seems to be the little brother of Cameo. Is this true?

All this and more you will find out below.


Silhouette Cameo vs Silhouette Portrait comparison chart

Silhouette Cameo 3Silhouette Portrait
Size22.5 x 6 x 8.5 inches17.2 x 5.5 x 7 inches
Weight13.95 pounds3.53 pounds
Cutting FeatureYesYes
Drawing FeatureYesYes
PixScan TechnologyYesYes
Cutting force210g210g
Maximum Cutting Size12 inches x 10 feet8 inches x 10 feet
Auto BladeYesYes
Cross CutterYesNo
Dual CarriageYesNo
Max Material Thickness2mm2mm
Computer Connection NeededNoYes
Noise LevelLoudLoud
LCD & TouchscreenYesNo
Bluetooth ConnectionYesYes
Recommended Retail Price$299.99$199.99

Silhoutte Cameo and Portrait Plus History

As you have seen the Cameo vs Portrait chart above three things pop into your eyes, these are the weight, cutting size and the price.

silhouette cameo standaloneI will talk in detail about all of these features. Let’s get started with the size. It’s small. The Silhouette Portrait machine looks like the little brother of Cameo. Just for reference, I’m comparing the latest generation of these machines meaning Silhouette Portrait 2 and Silhouette Cameo 3.

silhouette portrait machineThe main difference between Portrait 1 and 2 is the later one having Bluetooth connection capability. As far as I know, older versions like Cameo 1,2 have been discontinued. Sure you can find a few laying around on eBay, but the newer versions offer a lot more (plus you have free access to Design Store). By getting second-hand products, you won’t be able to access the store for free.

Size and Weight

Let’s continue with the comparison test. The weight is significant. the Portrait is 10 pounds lighter than its bigger brother. This means it’s much much easier to carry around. Speaking of Brother do you want to know how Silhouette Cameo compares to Brother Scan and Cut?

Let’s say you’re doing exhibits and tradeshows that extra 10 pound that you don’t have to carry around makes a big difference.

Now, both machines have cutting and drawing features. This means that you can pop either a cutter or a pen in the holder. So far so it’s promising.

PixScan Technology

They both have the PixScan technology which means you can easily digitize your fabric patterns. All you need is your smartphone to take the photo and then upload it into the software, and you’re done.

Cutting Force

The cutting force is the same which is 210g. The thickest material you can insert is 2mm in size. This doesn’t mean it can cut 2mm deep. It’s less than that. There are only a few things both of these machines can cut (leather and thick materials are not included).

The cutting surface is the most important thing. It all comes down on what you’re using it for. If you are doing small jobs like scrapbooking or creating greeting cards, then Silhouette Portrait is just perfect for you. As you can see they both can work on long roles up to 10 feet long. You might need an extra cutting mat or two when you start out. I learned that the hard way.

Auto Blade

The Auto Blade is a great feature to have. The machine automatically sets the cutting force, so you don’t have to do it manually. It saves you time and eliminates human error.

Cross Cutter

The Cross Cutter option is for the Cameo die cutter only. This is another hidden gem which helps you make straight cross cuts on the material. It’s faster and cleaner than using scissors.

Dual Carriage

I consider Dual Carriage a must have nowadays. Sadly the Portrait Silhouette machine doesn’t have that option. With Dual Carriage you can have a cutter and a pen or two pens or other formats. So your work gets faster. You can get things done without this option, but it takes time.

You need to do additional settings in the software and so on.

This is the beauty of Silhouette Cameo you don’t need a computer to run the jobs. This is handy at events where you don’t have much space to work with. Also carrying around a laptop and cutting machine could be heavy.


Silhouette Studio Software

The Silhouette Studio is the recommended software for operating the machine. I believe it’s the only one out there. Since Portrait is the little brother Silhouette Studio is a must. It has everything you need to do a good job. Make sure you update the Silhouette Studio to the latest version because the CD usually contains the older one.


Sound and Connectivity (Issues?)

Sadly both of the machines are loud. This seems to be running in the Silhouette family.

The Silhouette Portrait is basic. It has a few buttons, and that’s it. On the other hand, Cameo has a touchscreen which helps you use the cutter without any computer connection what so ever.

They both have the options to connect via Bluetooth. Some users have reported that they never got it running.

The last item on the comparison table is price. As you can see the Portrait is at least $100 cheaper than the Cameo. For some this $100 makes the difference for some the extra hundred is well worth for the benefits.


Silhouette Portrait Negatives (Cons)

There’s a steep learning curve, and they are not the most user-friendly machines out there. Plus they are loud. Forget about working during the night if you don’t have sound insulation.

Many users have complained about the Bluetooth connectivity. They tried over and over again, and they didn’t manage to set up the connection properly.

Here’s another biggie to manage perfect line up; some users had to use a flashlight because the machine didn’t detect the starting square.

silhouette portrait cutting machine

Do you want to get started fast? Check out this Facebook Page it’s for fast starters.

The only machine I can compare outside of the Silhouette family is the Cricut Explore Air. Matter of fact they look pretty similar. The main difference would be Cricut Explore Air has been discontinued because they have released Cricut Maker.

The Silhouette Portrait made it in my best of the best article. Check it out at Best Home Vinyl Cutter post.


Final Conclusions

What is a Silhouette Portrait cutting machine? It is a cheap starter that gets you off the ground fast. If you are working with paper and vinyl and you don’t mind the luxury of the touchscreen than this is a perfect fit for you. Both of the machines are good vinyl cutters. Both of them can be controlled with Silhouette Studio software. If you have both machines the cutting mat can be swapped between them. This concludes my Silhouette Portrait vs Cameo comparison.

silhouette cameo machine

Frequent questions from our readers (FAQ):


Who can use the Silhouette Portrait?
It’s for crafters who are doing Decal jobs, or working with small vinyl sizes (up to 8inches) than this machine will serve you well. It’s basic, and it works. It’s cheaper by $100 than his big brother the Cameo.
What software can I use with these cutting machines?
Both machines work perfectly with Silhouette Design Studio software. Everybody got the CD with the software. The version you have got is probably outdated. Go online and download the latest Silhouette Design Studio Software.
Who should opt for Silhouette Cameo?
Crafters who are working on bigger projects than 8 inches it’s perfect for them. Also, the Cameo has the Dual-Carry option which means that certain jobs will be done faster. You can do two passes which save you time.

Which is the best fit for you?
It all comes down to what you are using it for. The portrait is more like an entry-level product that’s why it’s cheaper. If you’re doing more serious jobs than try the Cameo.
What is the difference between the Silhouette Cameo and Portrait?
The best way to describe Silhouette Portrait is the bare bones starter version of the machine. It has limited capabilities no Dual Carriage and can only work with thin and easy materials like paper and vinyl. It’s the dumber version of Silhouette Cameo.
Even so if you want something that is cheap and which does a few things Portrait might be for you.
Another difference between Portrait and Silhouette Cameo is LCD screen and the bigger cutting surface. Cameo supports wireless connectivity with Bluetooth (if you manage to get it started). For more details read the whole review.
What is the difference between the Silhouette Cameo and the Silhouette Cameo 3?
Not much. The main difference between Cameo and Cameo 3 is the outer shell. The LCD screen is protected with a plastic case. Plus it has dual carriage and cordless connectivity. Also the price is higher for the Cameo 3.

Can the Silhouette Portrait cut vinyl?
Silhouette Portrait can cut vinyl with ease. And it can handle thin and easy materials like paper.
Which Silhouette is best?
It’s hard to determine which the best Silhouette is. It all comes down to you my dear reader. What’s your budget and what tasks do you need it for.
Silhouette Portrait is an entry machine which is light and cheap and it can handle only paper and vinyl.
Silhouette Cameo 3 has the widest use. They proclaimed it can work with 100+ materials. Which I doubt. If that would be so they wouldn’t have released the Silhouette Curio. This is the most rounded machine if you like to experiment with different materials and crafts.
Lastly there’s the Silhouette Curio. This machine can’t cut paper and vinyl. On the other hand it can do embossing, etching stippling. Though Cameo and Curio use the same cutting power.

Is Silhouette coming out with a new machine?
Yes Silhouette announced Silhouette Cameo 4 to be released in September 2019. It promises to be a beast. It will shake up the industry.
How big can the Silhouette Portrait cut?
Silhouette Portrait standard cutting size is 8×12 inches but it can be increased to 10 feet if you have roller.
What can the Silhouette Cameo 3 cut?
Silhouette Cameo 3 can cut a variety of things. The brochure says it can handle more than 100+ materials. If there are more tougher materials there’s the Silhouette Curio for that. Plus Silhouette Cameo 4 is just around the corner and it will bring some amazing surprises.

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Emily Weathers
Emily Weathers

Hi, Emily Weathers ex-corporate drone, full-time crafter and mother of three running this site. My passion is crafting, and I'm an early adopter. I'm testing many machines, so you don't have to. Since I get to play with these devices, why not write reviews for them? It's the reason for the site's existence, so you make the right choices and avoid money pits. If you want to know more…