CRICUT EXPLORE AIR 2 VS SILHOUETTE CAMEO 3 VS BROTHER SCANNCUT2

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. 


Now as one can imagine the amount of time I need to cover not all showing all three machines but also comparing them resulted in a ton of footage. I have decided to split the video up in three parts and release them over the next few weeks. This video was the toughest video I have had to film, edit and voiceover in my entire career. The end result will help you with your buying choices and by using my link at the bottom of the page to purchase your machine will help give back to the many hours dedicated to this  video. Also please note that a chose to concentrate and the machines last released by each company. Before we get to the video it is important to know the three videos that will be reviewed.

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 
  • Cut Smart precision cutting
  • Embedded Bluetooth for wireless cutting
  • Compatible with Cricut cartridges (sold separately)
  • Integrated storage compartments
  • Multiple cutting modes give you freedom to personalize the way you design and create
Fast Mode in Cricut Design Space
  • Cuts and writes in Fast Mode up to 2 times faster than previous Cricut Explore machines (cut speed will vary depending on material, machine settings and complexity of project design)
  • Fast Mode is available for Smart Set dial settings in vinyl, vinyl+, iron-on, iron-on+, light cardstock, light cardstock+, cardstock and cardstock+
  • Fast Mode may reduce cutting and writing precision, which may be more noticeable in complex designs
Make custom projects
  • Choose Make It Now projects
  • Make quick cuts with the Cricut Design Space app 
  • Upload your own images for free (.svg, .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .dxf) 
  • Cuts printable images
Easy to use
  • Just plug in your Explore, connect it to your computer or iOS mobile device via USB or Bluetooth and go to www.cricut.com/setup
Dual carriage 
  • For cutting and writing or cutting and scoring in 1 step
Design on the go
  • Create on your computer or iOS mobile device
Smart Set dial
  • For easy material settings
  • Cut materials from vellum to leather


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

CRICUT RESULTS
Cutting Test


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. 



Print-Then-Cut

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

Photo A
 Photo B
Photo C

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

  • Cuts a variety of material including vinyl, paper, cardstock, fabric, and other materials up to 12 inches wide and 10 feet long.
  • Use the powerful Silhouette Studio® design software to create your projects. Features Bluetooth® technology for wireless cutting or plugs into your home computer.
  • Features a dual-carriage for multi-tool use and a higher 2 mm clearance to cut thicker materials. Is compatible with Print & Cut and PixScan™ technology.
  • Is the only Silhouette compatible with the self-adjusting AutoBlade.
  • Includes Silhouette CAMEO® cutting machine, Silhouette Studio® software, power cable and USB cable, 12-Inch Cutting Mat, AutoBlade cutting blade, one month Basic Subscription to the Silhouette Design Store, crosscutter, and 100 FREE digital designs.

GOOD TO KNOW FROM MY EXPERIENCE
  • The Silhouette Cameo 3 will require broadband internet to download and update the software. You will also need to be connected to the internet to download any images from the store and fonts. However, besides updates and downloads, this machine can be used as a stand-alone machine. 
  • The auto blade DOES NOT figure your settings out for you, rather it just auto adjust. The user is still responsible for setting all of the material and the auto blade just adjusts. Essential this just eliminates having to use the ratchet tool. That is it folks. 
  • The Silhouette Cameo 3  is able to cut wirelessly, you must have a Bluetooth connection from your computer or iOS/Android mobile device. However at time of this post I am still not able to connect to bluetooth using my mac and the process to connect to bluetooth is VERY COMPLICATED.
  • Mobile application supports both iOS and android
  • Silhouette Cameo 3 uses Silhouette Studio. This program is very advance and requires previous knowledge of other design programs of YouTube viewing to learn all the features. Silhouette Studio also requires you to pay for an upgrade (Silhouette Studio Designer Edition) to use SVG and your own FONTS, which is not the case for Cricut Explore Air 2. This is by far the hardest software to learn, but DOES give you many of the features that are lacking in Cricut Design Space like offset.
  • Silhouette Cameo 3 does not offer a true score natively. It will produce dashed lines that will cut to make a score line. 
RESULTS FROM THIS VIDEO

SILHOUETTE RESULTS
Cutting Test

The Silhouette Cameo 3 cuts pretty well with all images. For basic paper/vinyl and iron on the machine will do just fine. The biggest issue I have is at times paper gets caught in the blue which compromises small cuts in your image. (See Photo A Below). Also I am still not happy with the machine not offer something comparable to the smart dial on the Cricut Explore Air 2. With the Silhouette Cameo 3 the user is in control of setting the material and testing it out to make sure it is correct. This is a frustrating process as you either need to find cheat sheets or hope the preset setting will work. For this cut I used the standard setting of Textured Card Stock 80lb in Silhouette Studio. This machine cut the image at 4 minutes and 55 seconds, making it the slowest and loudest machine. 

Photo A

Print-Then-Cut

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.

Photo A




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
  • Lets you scan in just about any image, photo or hand-drawn sketch 
  • Machine precisely cuts the shapes or outlines you want 
  • Will scan your design as data to save as a cut or draw file 
  • Enhanced RGB color scanning capability 
  • Create unique scrapbooks, greeting cards, appliques, quilts and crafts
Universal pen holder
  • Allows for more creative freedom when drawing with the ScanNCut2 machines 
  • Fits most pens and writing instruments 
  • Use on paper, fabric and other mediums
Wireless capability 
  • Create designs on your tablet or computer and send wirelessly to be cut
Cut intricate designs from almost any material 
  • Works on paper, fabric, tissue paper, wood veneer paper, leather, canvas, cellophane and more
Pen drawing 
  • Change your cut file, whether from a previously scanned image or built-in design
Designs are saved to machine's memory
  • Doesn't require expensive cartridges 
  • Can be saved to your memory stick (not included) 
  • Transfer files to your PC via USB cable (not included)
631 built-in designs 
  • Includes basic shapes, intricate designs, borders, 100 quilt patterns and 7 lettering fonts
Perfect for sewers 
  • Cut fabrics precisely 
  • Variety of accessories to make fabric cutting easy 
  • Incorporates seam allowances on quilt pieces 
  • Includes seam-sewing guidelines
More Features
  • Bright, easy-to-use, color LCD touchscreen 
  • Background scan 
  • Welding feature lets you combine shapes, drawings, fonts and more 
  • Space-saving auto layout capabilities 
  • One-line editing 
  • Large scanning and cutting area 
  • 2 USB ports 
  • SVG file conversion capability


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
Cutting Test


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.

Print-Then-Cut Scan-N-Cut

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)

Photo A

Photo B

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


LAST WORDS

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. 

ALSO PLEASE USE MY LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE YOUR MACHINE
I get a small commission from amazon when you use my links to help offset the time I put into these reviews. This is at no cost to you and has not influenced my blog write-up. 

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