Cricut is known for many things. For instance, the company has embraced the use of Design Space software which converts images into cuttable elements. But perhaps one of the biggest achievements they’ve made to date is the introduction of the Cricut Explore product line. This product line comprises the like of Explore One, Explore Air, and Explore Air 2. So, how do these craft cutters fare and are they worth their weight in gold?
A Closer Look at the Cricut Explore Family
The Cricut Explore One is the cutter that brought a major difference to the world of craft cutting. It’s a pretty basic machine and is, therefore, recommended for beginners. The second member of the family, the Explore Air, came under the spotlight in 2015. In fact, it was among the first ones to introduce wireless cutting capability. That’s because it came with Bluetooth connectivity which wasn’t available on the Explore One product. The newest kid on the block, the Cricut Explore Air 2, was launched in 2016 with the intention of dethroning the Silhouette Cameo 3 from the best desktop craft cutter position.
One unique characteristic of the Explore line of products is that they’re pretty well-priced. They’re also quite easy-to-use and seem to be primarily designed for beginners and hobbyists.
But clearly, over time, Cricut has tried to introduce a few more features across the board. So, for instance, the Explore Air 2 has more features than Explore One and so forth. Sounds like quite a mouthful? Well, let’s take a closer look at what each model comes with.
Cricut Explore One
If you’re looking for a craft cutter that’s easy enough to master, the Cricut Explore One would be a great fit. Retailing at just below $200, this DIY machine boasts precise cutting, scoring, and writing technology. Besides that, it features the ability to cut hundreds of different materials.
Looking to cut patterns or images that are in your phone with a die cutter? The Explore One has got you covered. It comes with a friendly interface which allows you to easily design your project even by SmartPhone, PC, or tablet.
Besides that, when you order a piece of it, you’ll also receive 60,000+ project and design ideas. You can use those to fuel up your creative career at no additional cost. Ordinarily, other companies require you to purchase project and design ideas separately but Cricut saves you that cost.
What’s more? This machine is a beast of sorts as it’s capable of cutting different materials ranging from leather to vinyl. This is thanks to the fact that it includes German carbide premium blade. This is a very powerful blade that’s designed to cut light- to mid-weight products. Besides that, the blade is highly resilient to wear and breakage which gives it a long life.
That said, the Explore One lacks the ability to function wirelessly. It doesn’t come with a built-in Bluetooth functionality meaning you’d need to connect cables to transfer images.
*Smart Set Dial
This is an innovative material selection feature. It comes with predetermined settings which help you get optimal results as long as you operate the machine on the right mode. The good thing with this feature is that it eliminates the need to adjust speed, depth, and pressure manually.
*Integrated Storage Compartments
These compartments are creatively designed to accommodate as much of your work items as possible. If you’re looking to keep your office clutter-free, these would be great space savers.
*Cricut Design Space Software
This is a highly powerful software that can be accessed via either an iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows or Mac computers. You only need to log in to the system and you’ll find dozens of gorgeous pre-made projects. That means you can select from thousands of ready-made projects. And the nicest part of this Design Space software is that you only need to select and click the “Make It Now” button. So, this is a highly straightforward product to use.
*StandardGrip Cutting Mat
This cutting mat has been customized to suit different kinds of crafting materials. They have a great grip and boast the ability to hold the material firmly in place making it easy to remove the material. This multipurpose mat is of high quality and boasts the ability to create picture perfect cuts.
- Very easy to use
- Has all the basics a beginner might need
- Can still use some of your old cartridges
- Great value for money
- Easy-to-use Smart Dial to eliminate the need for manual adjustments
- Lacks wireless technology
- Cannot cut and write at the same time
Cricut Explore Air
The Explore Air has everything Explore One has, plus some. For instance, it boasts Bluetooth connectivity which means you use it wirelessly. This is a great feature especially for those who prefer to design using their phones. Likewise, the wireless technology removes the need for cables. This goes a long way in helping keep your workspace tidy.
Besides that, the Explore Air comes with a Double tool holder. What’s that? You might be wondering. Well, the double tool holder gives you the freedom to cut and write at the same time. You, therefore, don’t have to purchase a tool adapter for the Explore Air.
On the flipside, though, the machine lacks the rotary blade. As you know, the rotary blade is best suited for all kinds of fabric. A lack of it, therefore, is a big deal especially for those looking for a professional use machine.
We also don’t like the fact that it doesn’t have a knife blade. As you know, this kind of blade comes in handy in trimming thicker materials. So, while the Cricut Explore AIR is a great DIY machine, it is best suited for scrapbooking and other light crafting duties.
*.SVG, .GIF and .DXF Files Accepted
This compact machine not only accepts .jpg, .png and .bmp files but .dxf and .svg as well. So, you don’t have to be stuck with one file format. As a designer, that’s the kind of freedom you need to push your creativity to the limits.
*Cut Smart Technology
Have you ever wished to get a machine that would allow you to make precise cuts from a quarter-inch to 23.5-inches? This is where the Cut Smart Technology which is patented to Cricut comes in handy. The innovative technology operates through a hybrid motor system meant to improve blade control. When paired up with the Smart Set dial feature, you enjoy even greater control over the sorts of cuts you can handle at any given moment.
In addition to its wireless functionality, this machine can also be operated via an iPad app. So, you can handle all your designs on the phone and on the go. For instance, you can capitalize on those long hours in the subway, waiting in line, traveling by plane and so forth to handle your designs. Then send the designs to the cutter when you’re back in your office. So, not only does this help make the machine convenient to have around but also saves your time.
- Can be operated wirelessly
- User-friendly and intuitive software
- Quite easy to set up
- Can do so much and even write using pens
- No software download is required
- Comes with a handy iPad app
- Can still use cartridges though it doesn’t require them
- The Design Space software can only be accessed online
- A bit expensive compared to the Explore One
Cricut Explore Air 2
Of the three machines from Cricut that bear the name “Explore” the Explore Air 2 is, no doubt, the greatest. Over and above all the features the Explore One and Explore Air come with, this one comes with a double tool holder and 2X faster cutting power.
As you can see from that list of additional features, the Air 2 is designed to deliver more power. So, if you’re looking to expand your career, this would be a perfect choice. Also, if you’ve been struggling to meet work deadlines, the extra speed will come in handy.
Looking for variety? The Air 2 product range comprises cherry blossom, matte black, rose bundle and mint color variants. So, you can always match the machine with other appliances in your office. Hello, great aesthetics!
Back to functionality, this machine comes with a 3-month membership subscription to Cricut’s premium features. Besides that, you get a strong grip mat, light grip mat, extra premium blade, digital cartridges, pen pals font and lipstick lettering font. How cool is that? And there’s more.
This DIY cutting machine comes with thousands of pre-made designs. So, you’ll have all the freedom you need to make informed decisions at all times. In fact, you have the freedom to choose between readily available ready-made templates or custom-made designs which you can make using the easy-to-use software.
In keeping up with the traditions of the Explore product line, this one too has a Smart Set Dial which ensures that your machine is versatile. This way, you can always make the perfect cut since you can choose the kind of depth and pressure to apply.
Moving on, this machine provides you with excellent cutting width. The cutter is 12-inches wide and 24-inches long. That translates to roughly about 11.5-inches and 23.5-inches worth of cutting width. This may not be the largest cutting capacity available but it should be enough for most crafting tasks.
To sum it up, the Air 2 enjoys Bluetooth connectivity, auto-settings, and dual carriage functionality. So, clearly, this machine goes above and beyond the competition in terms of versatility and cutting power.
Bluetooth Wireless Technology
This is probably one of the coolest features to have been introduced by Cricut. If you’re like a majority of scrapbooking fans and DIY enthusiasts, you probably are struggling with clutter already. The last thing you want to do is introduce more clutter. Enter Bluetooth technology and you now have the freedom to deliver great cuts, remotely. Of course, this technology only works when you’re near the printer but it certainly helps a lot. In fact, it simplifies the installation process like never before.
2X Cutting Speed
Speed is a big issue when it comes to the use of die cutters. And since time is money, you want to make sure you’re doing everything within your means to save it. With two times as much cutting power as the Cricut Explore Air this seems like a perfect match for the busy crafter. You can actually use it to start a small business although, of course, it may not be powerful enough to handle heavy-duty commercial work. In that regard, you only need to select the Fast Mode when you need to make every second count. Otherwise, you can use the normal mode if you’re not in a rush to get things done.
Why pay for premium fonts when you can get them for free from Cricut? Well, the minute you get an Air 2 for yourself, Penpals Font and Lipstick Lettering Font will be availed to you at no extra cost. The Penpals font is great for playful designs while the lipstick lettering font comes in handy when boldness is needed. Also, you can even create your own font and upload it to the system. Can you imagine creating your custom-made font and actually using it on all your creative projects? Well, the Air 2 is perhaps the sweetest deal you can ever grab especially if you’re looking to utilize your creative juice.
Cricut Explore One vs Cricut Explore Air vs Cricut Explore Air 2
We’d recommend going for the Explore One if you’re completely new to die-cutting. If you’re a hobbyist who’s looking to enjoy scrapbooking with the freedom of wireless connectivity, the Explore Air would be your best bet. The Cricut Explore Air 2 comes in handy when speed is needed. So, you get more cutting power plus the freedom to choose the kind of speed you want your crafts made at.
As you can see, the Cricut Explore product line presents a wide variety of options. All you need to do is understand your unique needs and go for the cutter that best meets your needs. Sometimes, all you need to do is find one that falls within your budget. But if you’re thinking of going fully professional, then getting a machine with extra-cutting speed and power might be the right thing to do.