cricut maker vs explore air 2

Cricut Explore Family

Cricut Explore

  • Holds 12” x 24” or 12” x 12” mat
  • Uses cable or Bluetooth to connect to Cricut Design Space
  • Has Bluetooth technology
  • Requires internet and software
  • Cuts SVG images
  • Cuts any font from your computer
  • Print your design to your printer and cuts it out with the Cricut Explore later

Cricut Explore One

  • Holds 12” x 24” or 12” x 12” mat
  • Uses cable or Bluetooth to connect to Cricut Design Space
  • Has Bluetooth technology
  • Requires internet and software
  • Cuts SVG images
  • Cuts any font from your computer
  • Print your design to your printer and cuts it out with the Cricut Explore later

Cricut Explore Air

  • Holds 12” x 24” or 12” x 12” mat
  • Uses cable or Bluetooth to connect to Cricut Design Space
  • Has Bluetooth technology
  • Requires internet and software
  • Cuts SVG images
  • Cuts any font from your computer
  • Print your design to your printer and cuts it out with the Cricut Explore later
  • Has dual carriage

Cricut Explore Air 2

Differences

There are no considerable differences concerning the Cricut Explore family that may affect the result that it delivers. The machines are pretty much like iPhones. New versions get released often, but the newer ones do not perform more than the models that came before them. That being said, here are the distinct points that I noticed.

The Cricut Explore is no longer available, which means that if you are interested in purchasing this machine, you will have to look for a pre-loved one. Although that is not necessarily a bad thing, you should know that it is not wireless as well. You will have to connect the unit with a cable to your computer. It’s not a big deal, but if you are like me who is firmly against cables, this will be an issue, and an upgrade may then be worth the extra money.

The Explore One is the most basic and the friendliest machine pocket-wise. The difference between this apparatus and the later models is that it does not have a dual carriage, and so it cannot do two things at once. E.g., score and cut in one go or write and cut.

Next up, we have the Cricut Explore Air, which is the next best thing after the Explore One. Personally, this upgrade is worth it as it has a dual carriage and can write and cut – or score and cut – at the same time. It’s a time saver. Furthermore, it has Bluetooth, which means that there are no cables in sight except for the power cord! There aren’t any wires that you will have to connect to your laptop either.

Lastly, there is the Cricut Explore Air 2. Now, there is no significant difference between this machine and the Explore Air. The former is basically faster and comes in a mint green color – that’s it. For $50 more, the question remains whether the unit is worth the price or not. It’s handy if you are tight on time and need to get those projects out quickly as it works nearly two times faster than the Explore Air. So, the usefulness of these features is entirely up to you and what you need in your Cricut machine.

Pros

There are definitely a lot of pros surrounding the Cricut Explore family. It is unlike the Cricut Cake, which is older and more difficult to work with.

The machine can cut nearly anything as well as draw on the material. It can cut more than 100 materials, which is pretty impressive. It is an upgrade from the Cricut Cake and Cricut Mini, for sure.

You do not need the software for your Cricut, even though it is necessary to set up and link your cartridges.

Cartridges aren’t a must, and neither is the software. You can use whichever you prefer since both are quite easy to use. The cartridges are easier to use than the software but that’s an entirely different issue.

It can connect to your mobile devices, which may come in handy later.

The Cricut Explore is an absolute powerhouse, and you do not need any other cutting machine if you have one. You won’t get anything better for its price.

Cons

There are glitches and little to no information on how to fix the Cricut Explore or even tricks that will allow you to get the best results. While it is a weak point for nearly every Cricut machine, it seemed to me that the Cricut Explore family had the least amount of information on the glitches. You will have to rely on your own wits to repair it. To clarify, this isn’t to say that there will actually ever be a glitch. I’ve never experienced one myself, but I do know of someone who struggled with it so it is worth mentioning.

Fondant goes between the cracks. It can cut the material if you have the proper Cake Blade and mat, but the Cricut Cake is specifically designed to avoid those nasty bits of excess fondant from wedging themselves in every nook and cranny, which is different to the Explore. You will have to clean it out thoroughly after each use because once fondant heats up, it will create a sticky mess that might ruin the rest of your projects. No one wants fondant on a greeting card; that’s why you should be very careful with this.

Price

As mentioned, Explore One is the cheapest machine at $149.99. For $30 more, you can get the Cricut Explore Air at $179.99. If you feel like the mint green color and a faster pace is worth another extra $70, you will pay around $249.99 for the Cricut Explore 2. They are not as expensive as they were during their initial release, and that makes them a little more affordable.

 

 

Materials You Will Be Able to Cut

The Cricut Explore family is able to cut over 100 different materials. Note that anything that is able to lay flat on the mat and measures 2mm or thinner is cuttable by the machine (considering you have the correct blades and housing for them, that is). Nevertheless, here are a few materials worth mentioning.

  • Fondant
  • Gum Paste
  • Sugar sheets
  • Any form of paper that lays flat on the mat
  • Card stock
  • Different kinds of vinyl
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Flat cardboard
  • Flocked paper and cardstock
  • Kraft board
  • Kraft paper
  • Photos
  • Iron-on (anything thin enough to cut through)
  • Thin fabrics (anything less than 2mm thick)
  • Foils

Final Thought

Personally, for the prices of these machines, the Cricut Explore does everything you expect and more. It’s not the most expensive of the Cricut range, but it’s the best that you will get for under $350. Despite the improvements that the units can use, those are minor issues that can be sorted out quickly. After the Cricut Maker, the Cricut Air has to be my favorite Cricut machine, and it definitely does not break the bank.

Cricut Maker

  • Holds 12” x 24” or 12” x 12” mat
  • Uses cable or Bluetooth to connect to Cricut Design Space
  • Has Bluetooth technology
  • Requires internet and software
  • Cuts SVG images
  • Cuts any font from your computer
  • Print your design to your printer and cuts it out with the Cricut Maker later
  • Has dual carriage
  • Uses rotary blade

Pros

It has a rotary blade. What does that mean, you ask? Well, let me tell you that it means there will be no more material for you to cut by hand. The rotary blade can slice through virtually any fabric from silk to denim to canvas. Not only does that cancel out any hand-cutting incident, but it also guarantees that you won’t need another machine to do the large-scale projects either!

The blade can cut through materials that are less than 2.5-mm thick. With the new Knife Blade on the playing field now, the entire game is changed! Aside from being able to penetrate thicker and tougher items, its lifespan is also significantly longer than any other tools. It saves you money in the long run, as well as the hassle of purchasing more blades. It’s just overall better than any of its counterparts.

You know that time when you contemplate buying another iPhone, but you just know the next one will be around as soon as you buy it, then you’re stuck with the old one, and the cycle just repeats itself? That won’t happen with the Cricut Maker. Do you know why? It is because Cricut came up with the brilliant idea that not only makes the Cricut Maker compatible with all of the current Cricut products but also with every Cricut merchandise to come! This means that you will only have to buy the tools instead of getting new machines with new features. This investment looks better and better with every word, doesn’t it?

Storage and holders. I am a big fan of any form of container, storage unit or basically anything I can use to organize things. Luckily, the Cricut Maker has those! There is a space on the machine to support whatever device you are using to keep your design in front of you as you work at all times. Not only that, but there is a drawer and a couple of tool cups. One of which is lined with rubber so it doesn’t damage your blades when you store them in there. Isn’t that nifty? It is great to keep all of your instruments in one place, and the Cricut Maker has more than enough space for any additional items that you decide to purchase alongside it.

It gives you access to a huge sewing pattern library. Even to someone like me who absolutely hates sewing, this is exciting. It makes me want to give it another go. I’m just waiting for Cricut to make a sewing machine first.

Cons

The Knife Blade, which allows you to cut through thicker materials, is sold separately; that’s why I suggest adding that to your cart immediately when ordering the Cricut Maker to avoid missing out on the fun things like slicing through wood and more. This blade also isn’t cheap. On top of the amount that you have to pay for the machine, you will have to pay for a Knife blade or two as well.

It uses the same Design Space. Now, I am not a fan of Design Space. Not even a little. In truth, I prefer to work with cartridges instead of Design Space. It’s annoying, and I refuse to do anything that can ruin my crafting experience. The fact that they kept the old Design Space was a real disappointment to me. The least they could have done was upgrade it a little to make it a tad more pleasant to use. Sure, the look of the software is nice, but that doesn’t mean it is user-friendly.

It still has a small cutting area. This is the only thing that genuinely annoys me about the Cricut products. There was so much potential to make the space bigger, make the designs bigger and better, but nope. None of that. They decided to stick to the same old size for the same old-sized products. I want bigger. The bigger, the better. The question is, when will a bigger machine come along? But then the whole thing about the Maker being universal won’t mean a damn because you will want to buy the new model with the larger cutting space.

Again, the Cricut Maker has the same issue as the Explore family in which fondant gets stuck in the tiny, little slits. This is especially annoying since I bake cakes that need some serious Cricut decorating often, and so I find that the Cricut Cake works better for me because it doesn’t require a lot of effort to clean.

Price

You are probably waiting for this giant ball to drop, aren’t you? Well, before I tell you how much this machine costs, remember that Cricut Maker is a machine for life, considering it will work with any tool Cricut releases in the future. It is beautiful and powerful as heck.

That in mind, the Cricut Maker costs $399.99. That is a large sum of money for someone who doesn’t have it and even to someone who does have it. Although there’s a lot you can do with $399.99, there are just as many things you can do with the Cricut Maker. My advice would be to save until you can afford it or put it on your wishlist in the meantime and subtly hint to your loved ones that you’ll absolutely love to have one of these bad boys. Hopefully, someone will catch on and not balk at the huge amount of dollars that it will eat up.

Materials You Will Be Able to Cut

  • Fondant
  • Gum Paste
  • Sugar sheets
  • Any form of paper that lays flat on the mat
  • Card stock
  • Different kinds of vinyl
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Flat cardboard
  • Flocked paper and cardstock
  • Kraft board
  • Kraft paper
  • Photos
  • Iron-on (anything thin enough to cut through)
  • Fabrics (anything less than 2.5mm thick)
  • Woods thinner than 2.5mm
  • Tin (soda bottles)
  • Foils

Final Thought

This Cricut… People, let me tell you something. Once you have used this bad boy, I’m pretty sure that you won’t want to use any other machine ever again. Of course, it has the fondant issue, but it really isn’t a deal breaker, to be honest. I am just fussy, and I prefer easy methods instead of the longer ones.

The Cricut Maker can cut anything from felt, leather, and non-bonded fabrics to basswood and balsa wood. Can you see why I’m telling you that you won’t need anything else? Of course, new Cricuts will come along and wow us in ways we won’t be able to comprehend – like the sewing Cricut I have mentioned before, hopefully – but until then, the Cricut Maker is pretty boss. It is also the only Cricut machine that has a scoring Stylus and a rotary blade that comes in the box when you make your purchase. It also comes with a calligraphy pen, a fine-point pen, and a washable fabric pen. Minimum additional items are required when purchasing the Cricut Maker.

 

 

Comparison

But what do I think? Which one do I prefer and which Cricut machine would I recommend?

Here’s your answer.

Whatever you can afford. There is really no wrong way you can go. It all depends on what you want to do with the machine and how much money you are willing to spend.

Personally, nothing competes with the Cricut Maker, and I will probably stay by this statement until the day I die. It is the best as far as value for money goes. Although it is a bit pricey, you won’t need any other cutting tools while you have The Cricut Maker. Purchasing all the machines you will need to do what the Cricut Maker can do will cost you double – if not more – of what the Cricut Maker will require from you. So, in the long run, it is the best option. Not to mention, the Cricut Maker offers ten times the cutting pressure than what the Explore Air does. The nifty rotary blade and washable fabric pen also help support my case. It is just a fantastic machine, and I will recommend it to anyone who asks.

I am, however, not taking anything away from the Explore family. If I had a choice as to what my first Cricut machine would have been, I would have opted for the Cricut Explore One. It is practically the cheapest and has all of the features that both Explore Air and Explore Air 2 have except for the wireless ability and the pretty color of the latter. If the cable really is a problem, I’d say invest in the Explore Air. With the $50 that you save by not buying the Explore Air 2, you can buy a whole bunch of crafting goodies that you can use with your new Cricut machine when it arrives. It will also save you a lot of patience with the cable, which – let’s be honest – is completely worth the extra $50.

The other machines, as cool as they are, just don’t do it for me. The only Cricut machine I might be interested in owning along with my Cricut Maker is the Cricut EasyPress that will allow me to “print” my own T-shirts and clothes. The EasyPress doesn’t even count as a Cricut machine, though, if we’re being technical about it. Hence, the Cricut Maker is honestly the only machine I need. The Cricut Express Air then comes directly after that. It really is a close run for the two, but the Maker will always win ultimately.

That’s it. For the rest, there are printers as well as the Cricut Maker to do all the things the older machines do. There merely isn’t a reason to waste your money on things you can spend a little more for and get so much more out of the deal.

Again, it all depends on your needs and budget.

Choose wisely.