Monday, February 9, 2009

Die Cut Machine Comparisons

To Cricut or not to Cricut! That is the question!! With all the different die cutting machines out there... HOW do you know which one is the right one for you! I am always being asked this question. So, I decided to do a little online research and put it all together in one place for you. Oh... and I tried to be as unbiased as I could!
First and foremost, I must disclose that I am definitely a 'Cricuteer'. I have had this debate more than once with many people (are you reading Denise? lol!) and after comparing the cricut to other machines out there, I just don't understand why anyone would want to buy anything else. If you are a fan of something else, PLEASE comment and tell us all why! Here is a list of what is readily available:
Original Provocraft Cricut (also referred to as the Baby Bug)
Provocraft Cricut Expression
Provocraft Cricut Create
QuicKutz Silhouette
QuicKutz Revolution Love
Making Memories Slice
Xyron Wishblade
Xyron Personal Cutting System
Pazzles
ORIGINAL PROVOCRAFT CRICUT



Overview:
This VIDEO says it all...
Features/Strengths:
People say they like this smaller cricut better because it is easier to carry to crops... but I drag my expression around with me everywhere and I really don't notice the additional 5 inches in size. The original Cricut is more affordable than it's big brother and was even being sold at several stores during the holidays for only $99, but will cost ya $149.99 at Oh My Crafts right now.
Limitations/Weaknesses:
Size... the largest cut is only 12"x5.5"! That's okay for lettering, but really limits your possibilities.

Recommendations:
Remember that this is my personal opinion (MPO)... but I would bypass this machine and go straight to the Cricut Expression. You will not regret the additional cost... I promise! It will pay for itself in no time!
PROVOCRAFT CRICUT EXPRESSION

Overview:
Another VIDEO with all the details...
I actually watched this video all the way thru and enjoyed the 'refresher' on the features even though I have owned and used the Cricut Expression for almost a year now. It's about a 5min video. The sticky mats come in packages of 2 and usually retail for $10-12 for the 12"x12" and $12-14 for the 12"x24". The mats are on sale for only $5.99 and $7.49 at CUSTOMCROP right now! It uses the same replacement blades that the original cricut does and retail for $7.99 at Walmart.
Features/Strengths:
Again, this is MPO... but this is the way to go. Provocraft has done a great job releasing a wide variety of cartridges to use with the Cricut machines (they are interchangeable). But, if you are like a friend of mine and don't want to 'have' to buy cartridges, then you can purchase software (SURE CUTS ALOT) that will allow you to use the trutype fonts and clipart that are already on your computer! The options are endless and the size is wonderful. Largest cut size is 12"x24" with the use of the large mat. Provocraft has done a great job on releasing new cartridges and accessories and basically keeping the Cricut on top of the market. There are 7 new cartridges being released this spring and some of the cool accessories available include pens, deep cut blade, stamp set, vinyl rolls, sheets of magnet paper, the Cricut Jukebox and the way cool Cricut Design Software. All of these things can be found at http://www.cricut.com/.

Limitations/Weaknesses:
While I think that Provocraft made some major improvements with the design of this machine, I wish that they had kept the same handle design. It is difficult to pick the machine up with only one hand because it has a two handholds (one on both ends). Other than that, I personally think that the biggest mistake made by Provocraft is the lack of instruction. This is easily corrected though by visiting one of the many cricut messageboards, blogs and youtube videos. There are also cricut clubs and Swarms popping up everywhere. We are in the beginning stages of a CREATIVE CRITTERS CLUB right here in Frisco, Texas.

Recommendations:
Definitely buy this machine. I paid $199 for my second Cricut Expression at Walmart on black friday and it came with two cartridges! Shop around and keep an eye on EBAY.

PROVOCRAFT CRICUT CREATE

Overview:
This machine is the same size as the original Cricut, but has the creative features of the bigger Cricut Expression. That is about it.
Features/Strengths:
It's cute... ummm... thats about it.
Limitations/Weaknesses:
The price and size... why would anyone spend about the same that you would spend for the bigger Cricut Expression? Could someone explain this one to me please? This machine is only available at Michaels and online.
Recommendation:
Buy the Cricut Expression.

QUICKUTZ SILHOUETTE






Overview:
The size of a printer, the Silhouette sits next to your computer and connects through a USB outlet. The Silhouette uses downloaded designs along with the computer to digital transfer it to the machine and cut them out. Basically, you open a program, select the design or font you want, edit it on screen and the Silhouette cuts it out. This is not a stand alone machine, it must be hooked up to your computer in order to use it.

Features/Strengths:
The Silhouette also uses fonts already on your computer. You can use any font as long as it is a "true-type" font, meaning it will end in ".ttf" in your documents and downloads. You can also dowload many true type fonts for free on the internet. You can also cut .GSD files, .GST files, and DXF loaded images.
Limitations/Weaknesses:
Not portable unless you are using it with a laptop. As with all the machines the cutting mats and blades DO have to be replaced. But, Silhouette mats run about $25 for 2, and the blade runs close to $45. They say the blades should last about 6 months, using it often, and cutting mats should last for roughly 100 8.5 x 11 full cut sheets of paper. The system uses 8.5 x 11 paper or smaller, although anything smaller than a 4x6 is not recommended. While the software is not MAC compatible, the hardware is. SarahisCrafty has a tutorial for it on her blog HERE.

Recommendations: Quickutz is a reputable company. There seems to be only 7 portfolio/cds available, but there are quite a few downloadable images. Again, very limiting and not a stand alone unit. I still have to stand by the Cricut. You can do everything and more with the use of Cricut Design Software or SureCutsAlot software.

QUICKUTZ REVOLUTION LOVE



Overview:

This barely meets the definition of electronic (lol!) But, it does plug into the wall, therefore, I have included it in my comparison. This VIDEO explains all the new "LOVE Machine". LOL! Costs $159.99 and uses all the QuicKutz, Sizzix and Cuttlebug dies, but will have new Revolution dies available that are larger in size.
MAKING MEMORIES SLICE



Overview:
Here is a getting started VIDEO for the Making Memories Slice. WHY SLICE? It's portable... fits in the palm of your hand... measures 5'' square and weighs less than 2 pounds. Runs independently on rechargeable battery or can be plugged in. Easy to use, very user friendly. A 2'' graphics window allows you to preview shapes before cutting. Cuts designs in 8 sizes ranging from 1/2'' to 4''.
Features/Strengths:
Great for crops and is cordless. Uses a glass cutting mat that you brush a repositionable adhesive on and re-use over and over again.
Limitations/Weaknesses:
While this is a really neat gadget and I could so totally see myself using it... you are still spending 'about' the same as you would for other, bigger, can-do-more type machines. The Slice Starter kit is selling for $149.99 on CustomCrops.com and the Design cards cost $36-38 each. And the biggest cut you are going to get from the Slice is only 4"x4"!

Recommendation:
As a scrapbooker, I would never buy the Slice instead of the Cricut Expression... period. However, as a cardmaker... it would be perfect because most cardmakers don't make many cuts bigger than 4". Unless, of course, you have the Wild Card cartridge for the Cricut and you are cutting the cards themselves AND the envelopes! I would buy this machine to take to crops, but only if I had the Cricut waiting for me at home! LOL!

XYRON WISHBLADE


Overview:
The Xyron Wishblade Media Cutter (Wishblade) connects to your computer and uses fonts, shapes and images already loaded on your computer. By using the Wishblade software you can create your own designs to be cut or swap design files with other Wishblade users through a number of Yahoo! Groups. Swapping designs allows you to increase your design library quickly as you learn how to use the software program. The Wishblade software is currently only compatible with Windows-based PC's, however a Mac version of the software is in the works and should be available mid-June 2007.
Features/Strengths:
The software allows you to "weld" the letters together so the letters are literally connected to each other if you choose (rather than individually cut letters). Basic clipart shapes that can be downloaded from the Internet can also be converted into a design-file and cut out with the Wishblade. With the vast amount of free fonts and clipart designs, the possibilities are endless. Another great feature of the Wishblade is the ability to print an image from your computer on your normal printer, and then send that image through the Wishblade machine so it will cut out the image you just printed, you can then mat the printed images. You can even replace the cutting blade with a ballpoint ink pen and let the machine draw for you instead of cut.

Limitations/Weaknesses:
The Wishblade can only cut fonts and images as small as ½-inch and up to 8-inches tall, but can accept banner paper to cut projects up to 3-feet long. One major drawback of the Wishblade is its lack of portability. If you frequently attend crops and want to take along your die-cutting machine, you'll also need to bring along your computer or laptop because the Wishblade does not work without a computer connection. The WISHBLADE sells online right now for a whopping $449.00! Now... in the long run it will pay for itself because there are no cartridges/cds to additionally purchase. Some see that as a PRO for Wishblade, but I see it as a CON because I WANT to use professionally designed images in my projects and I don't mind paying for them. Oh, and two 9"x12" cutting mats are gonna cost ya $22.00!
Recommendations:
Seems like this would be a perfect choice for MAC users. Otherwise, I just couldn't recommend the Wishblade. There were also many many bad reviews online about installation and customer service. Please correct me if I am wrong... but I could not locate the Wishblade or the accessories/supplies at any of my local stores. Everything would always have to be purchased online. For me personally, that would not work. It never fails that I have to run to the local Hobby Lobby for a new blade or mat or something to finish a project with a deadline! If you are like me... keep that in mind.
XYRON PERSONAL CUTTING SYSTEM

Overview:
The Xyron Personal cutting system is a computerized die cutting machine that retails for an average of $100. The system uses font books and shape books that retail for $29.99 and up. HERE you can to see the different books and accessories available. This system allows you to quickly and easily cut out letters and shapes. It is simple to use and seems to be more portable for traveling to crops & retreats.
Features/ Strengths:
It uses simple controls that allow you to choose a shape from your design book and then to choose the size of the shape that you want to cut. There are a huge number of design books available for the Xyron Personal Cutting system. The machine comes with one alphabet font book and one book of basic shapes. These two books provide over 500 cutting options and there are additional cutting books available.
Limitaitons/Weaknesses:
The Xyron personal cutting system LIMITS your cut sizes to a maximum of 4” x 4” in size. Every shape in the design book can be cut in only one of three different sizes (small, medium or large).
Limitations/Weaknesses:
Although the Xyron Personal cutting system offers literally thousands of possibilities for shapes and sizes, it requires the purchase of font books and design books to expand its capabilities. Design books for the system cost around $30. That can add up if you want to collect a lot of shape books. The Personal cutting system uses a special blade to cut the shapes out of your paper. These blades need to be replaced over time especially if you are cutting through thick or fibrous papers. The blades cost $14.99 EACH! It also uses a special cutting mat to hold the paper in place during the cutting process. This mat will also need to be replaced over time and they retail for $9.99 for a package of 5, but remember that they are only 4"x4".
Recommendation:
The Xyron Personal cutting system is probably the most USER FRIENDLY electronic diecutting machine on the market. It is more affordable system and much more portable. There are limitations in sizes and shapes, but initial investment is not bad. Here is an old YouTube VIDEO from HSN that shows you exactly how to use the machine. However, I would recommend the Making Memories SLICE over the Xyron Personal Cutting System... less bulky and probably cost effective over the long haul because of the mats & blades.
PAZZLES CREATIVE CUTTER


Overview:
HSN usually sells the Pazzles machine for $500, but it is now on sale for only $399.97! This is not a stand alone machine, it requires a computer or laptop to operate.
Features/Strengths:
The Pazzles will cut up to 12"x12" and requires cutting mats that sell online for $15.99 per mat. Pazzles also sells a Creative Cutter Pro for only $3,045.00.... seriously for the serious! Lol!
Limitation/Weaknesses:
This is the most expensive machine that is common to crafters. I have several friends who bought the Pazzles and then turned around and bought a Cricut Expression instead. They have either sold their Pazzles online or it is being used as an expensive paperweight. I am told that it is not as user friendly as other machines and just not worth the hassle. If you are a PAZZLES fan... please leave a comment and tell us all why you like it so much.

Recommendations:
Please research very carefully before spending this much money on something when there are other options for much less.
Well, that concludes my very long comparison of die cutting machines. Believe it or not, there are others out there that I haven't even mentioned. I chose to compare only the most popular ones. Leave a comment and tell me what you are using... do you like it? I found the research very interesting and hope that it might help someone else who is looking to buy a die cutting system.

Happy cutting!






10 comments:

Anne said...

I will provide my own opinion and I have no affiliations to any manufacturers.

I purchased my first cutter after researching the scrapbook boards and blogs, as well as friends I scrap with.

I made the choice based on price and leary I would not use the CRICUT Expression as much as the Original Cricut to justify the price. Well, I now have both machines.

I have only praise for the machines. I will say I wish that there were more CRICUT classes offered in the stores. I am learning online from the Ladybug or YouTube videos.

Provocraft actually is pretty "crafty" that the instruction portion for their machines are being done by non paid individuals. I just wish there were actual classes to physically take myself too.

Ladybug Diva said...

I totally agree with you Anne! Thanks for your opinion... it is much appreciated!

cardmaker said...

Dear Ladybug,
I really appreciate the time and money you have spent reviewing the diecut machines. I have done quite a lot of research also and was considering the Pazzles due to not needing cartridges and the price of $379. I am curious from your post why Pazzle owners are not happy with their purchase. I did find a machine for about $250 called Klic N' Kut that is similar to Pazzles. I found their complete instruction manual at their site and read through it. It's very comprehensive but I can see why some users might think it's too complicated. There are so many choices you can make and you do need a computer.
Again, thanks for your help!
Jeannie
Traverse City, MI

Ladybug Diva said...

Hi Jeannie!! First of all... THANKS for leaving a comment and your opinion! There have been hundreds of hits on my blog, but only two people (you & Anne) seemed interested enough to leave a comment! LOL!

So many people are upset with Provocraft because they don't think they care about their consumer fanbase... but I just can't help it... my name is Tammy and I am a Cricut Addict. I wouldn't even consider another machine. Yes... I know that I don't have to buy cartridges with the other machines... but I LOVE the cartridges! They are easy! I am already so far behind in my scrapbooks that I don't want to have to 'design' all my cuts for my pages! I already take hours just to make one double page layout, seriously! But, when I am in a creative mood and I have the time... I can use SCAL or CDS with my cricut and still do what the other machines allow you to do! Just my opinion! Let me know what you decide to do and how you like it though... I would be interested!

SparkofWhimsy said...

Hey Ladybug! I didn't realize we were that close to each other.

Thank you for writing this article. I can see why you say what you do on each machine. I am one of those who bought the little bug and then the expression. I do agree that the cartridges are great, but at the same time I find them constricting at times and it does annoy me for a company to have such a wide consumer fanbase and yet ignore those very people who have made the machine a success by continuing to buy their merchandise.

I'm someone who wouldn't mind doing my own designs, like what I hear is easily done on the Pazzle. I've not tried Sir Cuts A Lot yet, maybe I will.

Thanks again for pointing the article out to me.

Have fun with your Storybook cartridge on your next meet. It's my favorite of the cartridges, hands down.
Angelique

Ladybug said...

I thought it only fitting that a "Ladybug" become a follower of Ladybug Land. ;-)

Love your blog! Really liked the comparisons of diff. machines. TFS!

Jenin said...

Sorry, but I'm still confused! I'm new to this, and trying to find a reasonably priced machine to cut letters & numbers of different sizes...do you have any suggestions?

shauna said...

Hi! I realize this is an older post but I just found it. I appreciate your comparisons and found them very helpful. I did want to respond to something you asked. In referring to the Cricut Create (I think that's what it's called- the third one) you said it is smaller like the personal Cricut with the capabilities of the Expression. Then you asked why anyone would pay the higher price for this machine instead of just buying the Expression and asked for input if anyone knew. Well, basically I think you answered your own question. Since it makes the larger sizes like the Expression but is more portable like the Personal those are the very reasons some people would be willing to pay more for that. For instance I want the capabilities of the Expression but like the smaller size of the original so for me I would like it. I'm not saying this in a rude way at all so I hope it doesn't come across that way. Just for some the greater portability is worth it. Anyway, thanks for the in depth report and I learned something about each machine that I didn't know before. I have some of them that I never ever took out of the box. Like the Wizard, the Cuttlebug, and recently got the Personal Cricut (thinking it was the same thing as the Expression) so now I'll get the Create I guess. The Cuttlebug I do think I'll take out and try because it looks so easy.

Breanne said...

Thank you for this article. It has helped so much. Exactly what I was looking for. I am not sure when you wrote this article but I have been hearing more about this Cricut Create. I actually saw it at WalMart today. I don't remember the price though. Hopefully I will find a good deal I am thinking I will be going with a Cricut and the program to do stuff on the computer if I wish. Thanks again.

CorrieW said...

I saw your post and the information on the silhouette is outdated. The blades cost $10 unless you need a new housing. The SD machine (pictured in the post) does not always require a computer because you can download files to a SD card, and they have an online store where you can buy files for $.99 each or get a subscription download for $20 for 150 images. Also the silhouette like the wishblade has a pen holder that allows you to use ballpoint pens and certain markers with it. Great comparison of the machines