So, you want a Cricut Explore. But, you’re looking online and there are so many options! They all look the same, but they have different names like Air, One, and Air 2. What’s the difference between all these machines, and which machine is the best option?
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One of the first questions that people ask me about the Cricut Explore is – “Which Cricut Explore should I buy?”
There are a few factors to consider when you are choosing which Cricut Explore machine to buy. Today I wanted to go over the similarities and differences between each of the machines and hopefully help answer this very popular question.
Let’s first talk about the features of the Cricut Explore that ALL of the machines have in common. No matter which machine you decide on, they all have the ability to do the following:
Cut, Write, and Score
All machines have the ability to Cut, Write, and Score. The difference is that some machines do this all in one step, while others do this in two steps. We will get into that later. The main idea is that all Cricut Explores allow you to Cut out projects and Write on them or Score them.
Cut Many Different Materials
All machines allow you to cut a variety of different materials. That’s because every machine comes with a Smart Dial. The dial is used to select the material you are cutting so the Cricut can determine the speed and pressure for cutting. The Smart Dial also has a custom setting, which allows you to choose from a variety of different materials that aren’t shown on the dial.
Upload Your own Images for Free
All machines allow you to upload your own images into Cricut Design Space and cut them out for free!
Print then Cut
All machines have the ability to create Print then Cut designs. These are designs that can be printed out using your home printer and then cut out using the Cricut Explore.
Now let’s talk about what makes these machines different and what that means for you when deciding which one to purchase.
Wireless cutting using Bluetooth
Some of the machines have the ability to connect to Cricut Design Space on your computer or iPad wirelessly using Bluetooth. The Cricut Explore Air and the Cricut Explore Air 2 both have this ability. The Cricut Explore Original and the Cricut Explore One do not have this ability built into the machine. However, you can buy a separate Bluetooth Adapter for these two machines that will give them the wireless cutting ability.
One feature of some machines is the dual adapter that allows for both a blade housing and an accessory housing to be attached at the same time. With this dual adapter, the Cricut Explore is able to both Cut and Write or Score in the same step with no intervention from you. The Cricut Explore Original, the Cricut Explore Air, and the Cricut Explore Air 2 all have dual adapters and allow for one-step cutting and writing or scoring.
The Cricut Explore One is the only machine without a dual adapter – it has a single adapter. The Cricut Explore One does not come with the accessory adapter, so if you want to use that you will need to purchase it separately. When you’re using the Cricut Explore One for cutting and writing or scoring, when it’s finished cutting and moves on to either writing or scoring, it will stop and prompt you to change out the blade housing for the accessory housing.
Fast Mode is a new feature and is only available with the Cricut Explore Air 2. It allows for up to 2x faster cutting and writing when you are using certain materials. Fast Mode only works with cardstock, vinyl, and iron-on vinyl, but it allows you to finish your projects in almost half the time when you are using those materials. When you are using other materials, the cutting time is the same as the other Cricut Explore models.
This is not really a functional feature of the machine, but sometimes the color of the machine is something people have strong opinions on. Each machine has a different range of colors that it comes in. There are standard colors for each machine model and then they are also alternate and special exclusive that have been released. The exclusive colors can only be found at certain retailers. Here are all the different colors that you can find for each machine model:
- Cricut Explore Original
- Wild Orchid – exclusive to HSN (limited edition)
- Cricut Explore Air
- Cricut Explore One
- Cricut Explore Air 2
There is a slight pricing difference between all of the models because of their different features. The top of the line machines are the Cricut Explore Air and the Cricut Explore Air 2. These machines offer the most feature and capabilities. Since the Cricut Explore Air 2 is somewhat new, it is priced the highest.
The Cricut Explore Original model is no longer sold by Cricut. You can find it on Amazon occasionally and some other places, but usually, it will be around the same price as a Cricut Explore Air. It’s better the get the Air and have the Bluetooth wireless built into the machine.
The budget friendly option of all the machines is the Cricut Explore One. It will normally run around $60 less than the other machines because it only has the single adapter. This is a great option if you want a Cricut but don’t necessarily have the budget for the top of the line model. Or, if you are a casual crafter and don’t see yourself using the Cricut a ton, and maybe just want to have it as a tool for special crafting occasions. The Cricut Explore One is a great option as a lower priced model.
If I was going to buy a machine today, I would choose the Cricut Explore Air. The Cricut Explore Air is still an incredible machine, even though there is a new machine on the market (the Air 2). It has all the bells and whistles to be the ultimate crafting and DIY tool.
In all the time that I have been using my Cricut Explore Original, I’ve never really been bothered by how long it takes the machine to cut out my project. Most of the time, it’s finished in a very short amount of time. I am not normally cutting projects with intricate details or tons of tiny cuts, so I don’t notice the speed being an issue.
The only project that I can think of that I make that would benefit from a faster cutting time is creating printable stickers. I try to pack as many stickers onto one sheet as possible, so there are lots of cuts and shapes for the Cricut Explore to trace.
Cutting a full sheet of stickers can take a lot of time and if I was going to be cutting sheet after sheet constantly, I would think of investing in the Cricut Explore Air 2. The Fast Mode allows for 2x faster cutting when you have the smart dial set to cardstock, vinyl, or iron on vinyl. It would definitely speed up the time it takes to cut out a full sheet of stickers. I’m normally only cutting out one sheet of stickers, so the time it takes to cut really doesn’t bother me.
If you think that you would be cutting out lots of details designs or things like multiple sheets of stickers, you may want to consider getting the brand new Cricut Explore Air 2.
Whichever model you decide to go with, they are all going to impress you! The Cricut Explore series of machines really are the best cutting machines on the market, in my opinion.
I hope that this helps you choose the best machine for your creative needs. Let me know in the comments which Cricut Explore machine you have – or which one is on your wish list.
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