First of all, if you’re reading this you’re probably thinking about purchasing a Cricut – yay! But when you see that there are different types your next question is, “What’s the difference and which one should I buy?”
Not to worry, I’m going to break down the Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. Cricut Maker comparison below as clearly and simply as possible so you can confidently make a decision at the end of this post which is right for you.
Now if your question is whether you should buy a Cricut machine at all then that is easy! YES! This machine will seriously change the way that you craft forever. Prior to buying my Cricut, I would hoard DIY projects on a Pinterest board, but never do them. But, when I purchased my Cricut, I actually started doing them because it makes it so much easier and fun to finish handmade projects in a fraction of the time!
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Goals of this post:
- Decide which Cricut machine is right for you
- Save you time and confusion by simplifying the decision as much as possible
- Clarify any questions you have on the differences between the machines
Only have 5 seconds because the kids are screaming at you? Scroll to the bottom to read my final verdict. However, I do recommend reading through the post to make sure which machine is right for you.
Personally, I like to review tables and bulleted lists much more than long paragraphs of text, so that’s typically the style I use when writing these types of posts to keep things as simple and clear as possible. I hope you find it helpful.
Back to the old Venn diagram days of elementary school, I think they are actually helpful when summarizing the capabilities of the Explore Air 2 vs the Cricut Maker:
Essentially, the Cricut Maker can do everything the Explore Air 2 can and MORE!
Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. Cricut Maker Comparison
I have an Explore Air 2 now. Do I need to upgrade?
If you have an Explore Air 2 already, do NOT feel like you immediately need to upgrade. It is kind of like when the latest iPhone comes out and you can get sucked in by all the hype of the new features, but your current one still works perfectly well.
So, if you really want the latest and greatest features you can upgrade, but don’t feel like it is a necessity because Cricut will stop supporting your current machine because that’s not the case at all.
However, I will say that I ended up upgrading to the Cricut Maker and absolutely love it, so you will definitely not regret it when you do. Plus, the Maker is now starting to go on sale compared to when it was first released so it may be the time to start considering the upgrade if you’ve been thinking about it.
What’s new with the Cricut Maker? aka What can it do that the Explore Air 2 can’t?
- It’s got a rotary blade so it cuts fabric and patterns WAY better than the Explore Air 2! This bad boy is definitely the star of the Cricut Maker and an amazing improvement on previous machines. The rotary blade cuts difficult materials like felt and fabric flawlessly (I am still amazed everytime!). I used to never cut felt before either because it was always a pain with inconsistent results on the Air 2, but now with my Maker it is one of my favorite materials to cut!
- To clarify, the Explore Air 2 can cut fabric but it requires a backing or stabilizer like Heat n’ Bond added to the fabric when matting and is no where near as effective because the blade pulls on the fabric and doesn’t give it those clean cuts like a spinning rotary blade does.
- You can use colored or patterned paper when you print + cut. Life changing? No. Nice to have? Absolutely. The way I envision using this is that you can now print a graphic like Happy Valentine’s Day on a cute heart pattern paper and then die cut around it. So, you don’t have to waste your ink printing the background on white paper, which is great.
- The knife blade allows you to cut with 10x more pressure and through thicker (up to 2.44mm thick), sturdier materials than the Explore Air 2. So, if you like to be able to cut wood with your machine, then you should absolutely buy a Maker.
- Adjustable tool system – this fancy phrase basically means that the Maker was built to grow with you as a crafter and fit a whole host of new tools that Cricut has up their sleeves. I have heard rumors of up to 40 new blades they are talking about creating. So, if it will bum you out to not be able to use newly released attachments and blades, go with the Maker.
Now for the physical design changes of the Cricut Maker:
- Charging port/device display holder – allows you to charge your phone or iPad as well as display it easily when creating projects.
- More storage space for tools. The Maker now has an additional storage cup (2 instead of 1) and a larger storage drawer built in.
- Got rid of the smart dial to select the material type: At first I wasn’t sure if I would like this change, but I can now say that I love it! Why? Instead of having to get up and adjust your dial on your machine, you can easily make all material changes from your computer as you’re setting up your design to cut. Plus, it teaches you to use the wide range of custom materials instead of just the ones that can fit on the smart dial.
- No open button. You can watch how it opens in the video above, but basically you just pull up on the cover slightly.
- No cartridge port. If you are a long time Cricut user and still have cartridges from one of your older machines, you have to buy an adapter to be able to use them with the Maker. For new users that haven’t owned a Cricut before, you don’t have to worry about this.
QUICK DECISION GUIDE: Which Cricut machine fits your specific needs?
Perhaps my favorite part of this post that you can pin on your Pinterest boards to refer back to are the two graphics below. The first summarizes the feature differences we described above in a quick and easy format and the second helps you decide which machine suits your needs?
Where should I buy my Cricut to get the best deal?
Here’s the best deal I know about for the Explore Air 2.
You can get the Cricut Maker here. Since the Cricut Maker is so new, you won’t find it on sale yet. But, I will update this post if it does. Personally, I recommend buying it through the Cricut website to ensure if anything were to go wrong with it, you can easily work directly with Cricut and don’t have to deal with the third party too. Shipping is free for large purchases like this so you don’t have to worry about that.
You may be thinking “Oh, I should get it at Michael’s and use their 40% off coupon. It doesn’t work apply to buying this item. I tried when I was making sure I gave you the best recommendation possible.
THE VERDICT IS IN!
I highly recommend you buy the Cricut Maker.
It is hands down the best long term investment because you can get a ton of use out of it and it will work with all the latest and greatest upgrades and add-ons that Cricut releases. There’s no denying these machines are expensive, so it’s best to buy one that will last you the longest and is the most powerful and versatile with what it can cut!
With the Cricut Maker, you can cut fabric, felt, wood, and leather SO much better than you ever could with the Explore series machines – I have been seriously blown away!
Plus, it has started to go on sale recently so you can find some great deals on it if you already have an Explore series and are looking to upgrade.
My only caveat to this recommendation is if you really just want to focus on paper crafts and are totally content with the current features of the Explore Air 2 (and won’t be upset if they release new blades you can’t use), then go with it and save the extra money.
I hope this Cricut Maker vs. Explore Air 2 comparison helped you come to a clear and confident decision about which machine is right for you. If you still have any questions, let me know in the comments below and I will try to help.
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