Ooohhh, aaaahhh - it's finally here! After months of waiting, my brand new Cricut Explore Air Gold Edition has arrived!
I know, it's not the latest model, but there's really not much difference with its predecessor (Explore) except for the bluetooth nor with its successor (Explore Air 2) except for the faster cutting speeds for some materials. This was the best option for me after lots of nail-biting and hair-tearing, torn between which model to buy.
Watch the unboxing video on RPC's FB page, of both the machine and the ultimate starter set that came with it, here.
Here are some first thoughts and user experience of the Cricut Explore Air by a first-time Cricut user...
Beautiful, sleek and timeless. To me, it's the Apple of die-cut machines. Despite its length and bulk, not to mention weight, the way the Explore Air is designed took the user experience in great consideration. The cutting motor and tool/blade apparatus is protected from dust by a cover that opens at the slightest touch of a button. The cup-like holder can house pens and other tools while the slot in front of it syncs your physical Cricut cartridges to your Design Space account. The cover conveniently stores your other tools and blades, even adding magnetic plates so you never lose those tiny German carbode blades. The smart dial offers quick options for popular materials and less buttons mean more clarity, since you are told which one to press as they light up.
Quiet. My other machine is a 3-year old Silhouette Portrait and it was noisy! The motor groaned and grinded so strongly that the folding table it sits on would also move and shake with every swipe. I don't have that problem with Explore Air. Making the bundled first project, I hardly noticed the sounds it made.
Cricut Design Space. From Silhouette's Design Studio, Cricut's software is fairly easy to use. It's intuitive, to a first time user and contains the usual tools a beginner would need. However, it does take some getting used to. While in Silhouette everything you do is laid on the on-screen mat, Cricut divides the experience into several levels - for ready made projects at least. A ready made project allows you to view and make it off the shelf by clicking the green Make It button (level 1). Then brings you to the arrangement of mats by color for ready cutting (level 2). Level 3 is customizing colors. I appreciate the "steps" approach but an advanced user may find it too simple and may want to do complicated designs from scratch using the Canvas.
The Other Good Stuff
Everything Starter Set. It has EVERYTHING you will need to get going on a few simple and more intricate projects. From tools like scraper, scorer, extra blades and trimmer to different materials of varying textures and thickness, and options for mat stickiness depending on material to be cut.
Love - its lovely to look at, has a quiet motor and completely bundled with almost everything you'll need (including a 91-day free Cricut Access to their image and project library)
Like - has bluetooth and a corresponding mobile app that allows you to design on the go
Meh - software is too simple for a more experienced user
I've just had this for a week and there'll be more to talk about for sure. In the meantime, weekends are going to be a lot more fun as we approach the holidays. Happy crafting ❤️