Hey Everyone! Ken here with Ken's Kreations.
So many people write me everyday asking what craft machine they should invest their money in. 10 years ago, the landscape for personal cutting machines looks very different from the one now. The top three machines I get asked about are the Cricut Explore Family, the Silhouette Cameo Family and the Brother ScanNCut Family. I own all three machines and have done individual reviews on each of these machines. However, I have not done a three way comparison.......until now.
Ken's Kreations is proud to present a video comparing all three of these amazing machine.
Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. Silhouette Cameo 2 vs. Brother ScanNCut2 3 Part Video Series
1) Body Style, Feature & Benefits, Cut, Sound and Speed Test, Print-Then-Cut Test, Pen & Draw Test
2) Material Test, Thick Materials Using Deep Cut Blades, and Hard To Cut Items
3) Software, Phone Application and Specialty Feature Tests
I know that is a lot of information to cram into a video and so much was going on it is easy to miss something. So in the following post I would like to break down each of the machines, feature and benefits and pros and cons. Some of this information was taken from earlier posts. Also This post contains a TON of information, however I think the more you know the better equipped you will be!
CRICUT EXPLORE AIR 2
PRICE ON AMAZON AT TIME OF THIS POST: $248.45
FROM THE MANUFACTURERS:
|Cricut Explore Air 2 system ||Easy to use|
GOOD TO KNOW FROM MY EXPERIENCE
- The Cricut Explore Air 2 requires broadband internet connection and internet browsers are REQUIRED to use the Cricut Explore Air 2. This IS NOT a stand alone machine
- The Cricut Explore Air 2 is able to cut wirelessly, you must have a Bluetooth connection from your computer or iOS mobile device. Out of all the machines this was the easiest to connect to bluetooth.
- NOT COMPATIBLE with Android devices (Cricut States It Is Coming Soon)
- Cricut Explore Air 2 the recommended minimum system requirements for the machine and/or Cricut Design Space software may change to help improve software performance. As updates are made to the software, some minimum system requirement updates will be required. This could result in your computer NOW NOT meeting minimum requirements and a computer upgrade would be required.
- The Cricut Explore Air 2 is UP TO 2X faster for 3 different materials and drawing. PLEASE NOTE, as you can see in my review video FOUND HERE I was not able to get 2X times fast in my test, however it did cut faster than both other machines discussed in this post.
- Cricut Explore Air 2 runs in Cricut Design Space software. This software is designed for a begining user and is very easy to learn and use, however lacks many of the advance features seen with both the Silhouette Cameo 3 and Brother ScanNCut2.
- Cricut Design Space offers the ability to upload images including SVG and fonts FREE OF CHARGE.
- Cricut Explore Air 2 is the only machine out of the ones compared to offer a TRUE score using their Score Tool. Neither the Silhouette Cameo 3 or Brother ScanNCut2 offer a true score.
RESULTS FROM THIS VIDEO
I have always been impressed with the Cricut Explore Air 2 cutting precision and speed. This cut beautifully with sharp edges and no issues. The settings were Cardstock+ on the smart dial and was the fastest to cut this pattern of all the machines coming in at 2 minutes and 56 seconds. I always turn to my Cricut Explore Air 2 to cut any project and it is by far the easiest to use and produces the best cuts for me on a wide variety of material. We will focus on this in the second video, however in the first part of the series you can see the speed and accuracy is SUPERB. The other area that ALWAYS WINS in my eyes with the Cricut Explore Air 2 is the smart dial technology which allows you to choose the material you are cutting and have the machine make the adjustments to pressure. No guess work and perfect cuts every time. The Cricut Explore Air 2 also offers the best pressure out of all the machines giving you the ability to cut thicker materials which we will focus on in series two of these videos.
I personally DO NOT use my Cricut Explore Air 2 for Print-Then Cut projects. The reason is simply. Due to the restriction placed on Cricut Design Space you are only able to cut images to a certain size and Cricut Design Space does not print at a high quality which results in colors not being as vibrant and images not being crisp and clear. (Photo A Below)In fact here is the information from Cricut on the MAXIMUM size you can print in Cricut Design Space . (Photo B Below)
You are able to upload patterns into Cricut Design Space and add them to your project, but keep in mind you WILL NOT be able to print these up to 12X12. This is a huge disappointment as Cricut Imagine cartridges are now available in Cricut Design Space, however can not be used as intended as many offer digital papers that the Cricut Imagine was able to print at 12X12. (Photo C Below)
The one area I will say that Cricut Design Space WINS in regards to Print-Then-Cut is the uploading of images into Design Space. Since Cricut Design Space was built on simplicity, uploading images requires few steps and is very initiative. Compared to the Silhouette Cameo Family which requires a process of traces images to get them ready. To see how the software is different especially with Print-Then-Cut check out this video by CLICKING HERE
PEN FEATURE TO WRITE AND DRAW
Another area that the Cricut Explore Air 2 wins in my opinion is the ability to draw and write ANYTHING. Now the original original Cricut Explore really changed the industry since it features the dual head technology which allowed you to cut and draw. It also offered a place to put FINE TIP pens in their Pen Adapter. This allowed you to draw or write anything. It was also the first machine that I was able to use Single Line Fonts that gave the appears of actual drawing. You are able to draw any cut you want as Cricut Design Space allows you to change any image to a draw/write feature. The only criticism I have with this feature is when using Cricut Pens you will notice where the pen starts and stops as it leaves behind a dark dot at this point. You can really see this in the block Ken's Kreations below. If I am going to draw or write anything I turn to my Cricut Explore Air 2.
SILHOUETTE CAMEO 3
PRICE ON AMAZON AS OF THIS POST: 249.93
FROM THE MANUFACTURERS
I have mixed feelings on the Silhouette Cameo 3 when it comes to print-then-cut. Why? Well Silhouette Studio is the most complicated software when it comes to getting images ready for printing. So complicated that my tutorial on the process is one of my highest viewed videos on YouTube. CLICK HERE TO SEE. However once you have the process down the Silhouette Cameo 3 will deliver. You have the ability to Print-Then-Cut up to 12X12 and you will not see a downgrade in your color or image. I saw very little white edges and the images are as big as I need them. (See Photo A). You will see the HUGE difference in sizes in Photo B and C below. Now because of the ability to cut my images larger and the higher quality I usually turn to the Silhouette Cameo 3 for my Print-Then-Cut projects.
PEN FEATURE TO WRITE AND DRAW
With the Silhouette Cameo 3 I tested the machine with the sketch pens which come natively with the Silhouette Cameo 3. Now Silhouette Cameo 3 in many ways is similar to the Cricut Explore Air 2 in the fact that you can make any cut sketch. You have the ability to download sketch items from the Silhouette Store. You are able to use fonts, however the Silhouette Cameo 3 DOES NOT feature hand written or single line fonts. Many people have found ways to mimic this look, however you are not able to just use a single line font to give you this handwritten look. You are able to find images in the store of sayings or phrases that are single line, however you ARE NOT able to just type a single line font natively in Silhouette Studio. The Silhouette Cameo 3 does offer fill sketch for your text which is fun. Also note that the Silhouette Cameo 3 does have WAY MORE edit features for your fonts as curved text. These are awesome features once you get comfortable with the advance software. Below you will see my results. I am not a fan of using my Silhouette Cameo 3 for drawing or writing as I feel the Cricut Explore Air 2 gives much better results.
BROTHER SCANNCUT 2
PRICE ON AMAZON AT TIME OF THIS POST: $299.00
FROM THE MANUFACTURERS
|Home and hobby cutting machine with built-in 300dpi scanner||Designs are saved to machine's memory|
GOOD TO KNOW FROM MY EXPERIENCE
- The Brother ScanNCut 2 does offer bluetooth technology but it requires you to purchase a Activation Card to use this. This will give you the ability to send designs from the Brother Canvas directly to the Brother ScanNCut 2.
- This is the only 100% STAND ALONE machine that DOES not require internet connection. You will need an internet connection to use their Brother Canvas online program and to update your machine firmware.
- Without the wireless Activation Card you will need to save your projects from the Brother Canvas to you computer desktop and then save that to a Compatible USB drive, which sounds like a pain but really is not
- This is the only machine to offer a 300 DPI scanner that give you the ability to not worry about fussy cutting stamps. Also due to this, the machine does not feature a Print-Then-Cut, rather a Scan-N-Cut.
- The machine offers basic shapes, patterns, fonts, images and sentiments built directly into the machine and offers you the ability to purchase Brother USB Drives for more designs
- The Scan-N-Cut feature takes some time, practice and patient to get it just right.
- The Brother ScanNCut Mats are the worst mat I have ever use and lose stickiness after just one use. (in the video you saw me use painters tape to keep items down)
- The brother machine and accessories are the highest price of any machine. Mats run 14.99 compared to their competitor that ranges from 4.99 to 7.99. All of the brother accessories seem to be marked at a VERY HIGH PRICE.
RESULTS FROM THIS VIDEO
BROTHER SCANNCUT RESULTS
The Brother ScanNCut 2 does a great drop with cutting intricate images, however at a slow speed. I do not use this machine much for cutting images or SVG's as I usually turn to my Cricut Explore Air 2 for that. However, I was shocked to see the results in my video on this SVG that cut beautifully. I did not change any settings besides using their Standard Cut Blade. The image was able to cut amazingly, and it was faster than the Silhouette Cameo 3 coming in at 3 minutes and 39 seconds.
The Brother ScanNCut 2 does not offer the tradition Print-Then Cut as do the other machines. Why? Well this machine has a built in 300dpi scanner. With this technology you are able to print anything off at your home computer, draw any picture, use stamps and watch your machine scan it and then cut it. This is the MAIN reason I use my Brother ScanNCut 2. Any stamper out there should own this machine as it features AMAZING results on scan n cut around stamps. Now with that said I did notice it struggles with bigger items with my photo I printed off the internet. This could have been due to the light difference between the shades, but even using their new RGB scanner feature I was still left with jagged edges (See Photo B). However I was able to get the truest color since it was printed from the source on my home printer and I could have ANY size I wanted. (see Photo C)
PEN FEATURE TO WRITE AND DRAW
Let me be 100% honest I NEVER use the draw feature with the Brother ScanNCut 2 as I have never been a huge fan of my outcomes. I welcome any advice to become better equipped on this. Now with that said I did use the Brother Canvas to plan the following test. It features a text of theirs, a sentiment, a cut image that I turned into drawing and then two items that I hand drew in Brother Canvas and had the system draw. This is by far my favorite feature that you can do. You can draw in the program and cut or write it right away. You do have to either purchase a bundle or the Universal Pen Adapter to use either the Brother Ink Pens or your own pens. Since I test both the other machines with their native pens I also chose to go with the native pens here as well. Below you will see the results. I will say after using this multiple times for testing I would NEVER use the pen feature with the Brother ScanNCut 2 in the future as I feel the best results still came from the Cricut Explore Air 2
First and most importantly I realize the length of this post, but I really did want you to have ALL the information in your buying choices. Make sure you Follow this blog and my YouTube Channel so you do not miss out on the 2nd ( CUTTING THICKER MATERIALS ON THESE MACHINES) and 3rd ( COMPARE SOFTWARE AND APPS) part of this series. Also if you want a closer look at the reviews check out the following individual blog post on each other machines that I go into MUCH MORE DETAILS:
At the end of the day you have to look at what you will be using these machines for. For me as it stand on this post this is what I turn to for these machines:
Print-Then-Cut and Offset Feature: Silhouette Cameo 3
Fussy Cutting Of Stamps: Brother ScanNCut 2
EVERYTHING else: Cricut Explore Air 2
I realize not everyone can have these three machines, which is why I will still go on record as saying the machine of my choice to do most projects is the Cricut Explore Air 2. Hopefully this post gave you the information you need to make an informed decision.
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