Are you thinking about buying a Cricut machine? Made by Provo Craft, these electronic die cut machines are hot sellers in craft stores, offering scrapbookers an easy way to make titles and embellishments for their layouts. The machines do share some features, but they also are each unique from one another in various ways.
Before we look at how they are different, we should look at how they are the same. These models do not use metal dies, but instead are cartridge-based. They use artwork and fonts that are available on cartridges. What are the advantages of using cartridges? There are several, including the fact that these machines can be operated without the use of a computer (with the one exception of the Cricut Mini). Also, the cartridges are easier to store than dies, and are considerably cheaper when compared to buying individual dies for each cut. Simply plug in the cartridge, select your shape and size, and press cut.
In addition to the cartridges, all the electronic die cut machines from Provo Craft can be used with the company’s online design tool, known as the Cricut Craftroom. Also, the machines can be used with the Gypsy device. The Gypsy is a handheld device, which allows users to plan out and modify cuts, even when they are nowhere near their other crafting tools. As of this writing, the Cricut Mini is unfortunately not compatible with the Gypsy. However, Provo Craft is working on adding the capability, and should be available in the near future. Using either the CraftRoom online software or the Gypsy device, paper crafters can truly customize their die cuts. For example, users can cut a larger variety of sizes than factory settings allow and can weld and flip images. The Craftroom also offers digital cartridges for purchase, but to use these, the machine must be connected to a computer.
Now that we have discussed their similarities, let’s talk about how each machine is unique from the others. First, let’s look at the Personal Electronic Cutter. This machine was the original Cricut, and unfortunately, may be difficult to find new in the stores or even online. That being said, many people start out with this machine and then upgrade later, so you may be able to pick one up used for a good price. It can make only a small range of cuts compared to the other machines. The smallest die cuts it makes are one inch in size. The largest are 5.5 inches.
The next step up from the Personal Electronic Cutter is the Cricut Create. This machine uses the same size mats as the Personal Electronic Cutter, but can cut a wider range of sizes, ranging from 1/4” to 11-1/2”, in quarter inch increments.
The machine that I personally own, and the one that is considered the best-selling model of the bunch, is the Cricut Expression. It uses larger cutting mats, either 12” x 12” or 12” x 24” mats, and can cut as small as a quarter inch to as large as 23-1/2” in length.
The Expression 2, also called the E2, is very similar to the regular Expression in its cutting capabilities. Upgrades include additional features, such as a full color LCD screen, which crafters can use instead of the keypad overlay, to select shapes to cut. Instead of connecting the machine to the computer using a USB cable, this machine offers an optional wireless adapter, which will allow it to access the Craftroom online tool wirelessly.
The Cricut Imagine is the only die cut machine from Provo Craft that can not only cut, but also print. This machine has two different cartridge ports. One port is for the regular Cricut cartridges. The other one is for the Imagine cartridges, which in addition to containing die cut shapes, also house patterns, which can be use to print patterned papers. The machine uses HP printer cartridges and can print 1200 dots per inch.
The Cricut Mini offers the newest technology from Provo Craft’s electronic die cutting line. However, although it is the newest machine, it may not be the best for your needs. For one, although it has a cartridge port, it must be connected to the computer and to the CraftRoom design tool in order to cut. It is not yet compatible with the Gypsy, but this capability should be coming soon. One of its advantages, though, is that it is significantly smaller and more lightweight than the other machines. Finally, it’s important to note that it uses a unique cutting mat size of 8.5” x 12”.
Hopefully, by listing the differences here, it will be easier to decide which Cricut machine you should buy. If you ask ten different people, you will likely get ten different answers. Ultimately, to select the right machine for you, you will need to consider how you plan to use it. Will you use it for only card making and scrapbooking? If so, the Create may be a good option for you. Do you think there is a chance you may want to use it for bigger projects, such as party decorations and other home decor? If this is a possibility, then I would highly recommend the E2 or the original Expression. Do you want to use your computer when designing die cuts? The E2 or the new Mini may be your best option.
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