I have a Cricut Expression and use it for a lot of things. I love to cut vinyl with it to make home dec. items. They make great gifts. The machine that I reach for the most though is my Cuttlebug. You can't go wrong with it!
I have 2 Cricuts, a Cuttlebug, and a Grand Calibur. Here's the reason: I have so many
The Cricuts are used to cut letters and bigger items (e.g. frames flowers) since I can cut up to 11.5 inches. BYW, I haven't had anyproblems with my Cricuts.
Cuttlebug: I orginally bought this for my Spellbinders and other dies which can't be used on the Cricut. I bought the Grad Calibur because Spellbinders came out the the Grand dies, and I wanted a bigger machine.
Grand Calibur : Does the same thing as the Cuttlebug, it's a bigger machine with more pressure. Your are able to cut more intricute dies in a singe pass through the machine, and your are able to cut more dies at the same time. Their plates are able to accomodate a 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.
If price is a consideration. Cricut can be a little steep, but they have been running some specials, and you can't use coupons. Cuttlebug and Grand Calibur, you can use coupons to purchase these item at JoAnns, Michael's, and I think Hobby Lobby.
I use all of my machines pretty regularly. I hope this helps with your decision.
I think it would depend on a couple of things. What will you use the machine for? If it's only for cutting out stamped images and making cards, I would go for a Cuttlebug and some Nestabilities dies. Also, you can emboss with the Cuttlebug, which you can't really on the Cricut (there is an adaptor from another company than Cricut, but you'll never get the same finish as with the Cuttlebug). Now another good thing about the manual die cut machine is that you will be able to place a die on top of an already stamped images, center it by eye and cut it out. With the Cricut, this process is a bit more complicated. First, you have to have a machine that has the "Center point" option (the Expression does, but not the Create). You then have to find the center of your image which requires some calculations and then you cut. You can also cut first than stamp on the die-cut.
The cons with a manual die cutting machine is that the dies will end up costing you a bundle. Let's say you buy the Ovals from Nestabilities, you'll pay around 25$ for only one shape in only a couple of sizes. With the Cricut, you can get a lot more shapes in a variety of sizes (the sizes depends on the machine you choose). (On some websites and for older cartridges, you can get a hundred shapes for about the same price as one set of Nestabilities dies)
I just bought myselft an Cricut Expression. It was cost efficient for what I do. With 4 cartridges, I'm set to make a lot of cards and scrapbooking pages. I plan on making myself some templates to help me find the center of my images when I use the Center Point option. That'll help a bit I guess. I have 2 regrets though: first, I won't really be able to emboss with it and second, Sure-Cuts-A-Lot and Make-The-Cut software don't work with Cricut anymore. I didn't have any problems with the blade though. Worst case scenario, you buy yourself a new blade for around 5$.
I don't really know about the other electric die-cut machines out there. When I researched and compared them, prior to buying my Cricut, what I found out was that most of them couldn't cut cardboard. Cricut does (with the Multi-Cut option on the Expression). The e-Craft seemed very interesting though, since you don't need a mat to cut and from what I'm told, it does cut cardboard. You also connect it to your computer, so no Cartridges needed. But the e-Craft is much more expansive.
For the manual die-cut machines, there are some nice reviews on Youtube that you can consult. Type things like: "Cuttlebug or Sizzix" or "Cuttlebug or Grand Calibur". Unless you want to emboss or cut very large images, Cuttlebug is the best for quality and prices. Also, it takes a lot less space than Sizzix (which you can't fold). I never saw the Grand Calibur in real so I can't tell you how big it is.
If you decide to go for the Cricut machines, the space and money you have will make you decide which one is for you.
Cricut Create and BabyBug (though I don't think they still make this one) don't take a lot of space and you can take them to crops easily. They're also the least expensive. But check first the increments you can give to your shape. I think you can only go from half an inch to 6 inches (incrementing by half inches only). They don't have a lot of functions either. (No Center point, nor Multi-Cut).
The Expression and Expression 2: now that's where I think you get the most for your bucks. They have many functions, can increment from 1/4 inches and go up to 12 inches large. You can get a mat that's 12X24 also. To make banners, that's great. The Expression 2 is great because you have what I'd like to think as an embedded Gypsy in it. So you can digitally see what you cut and make some editing ( I "think" you can weld letters on it). Also, on the E2, you'll be able to use either the usual cartridges or the Imagine Cartridges (which don't have the same connector as the regular cartridges).
Now the Imagine, the priciest. This one let you print and cut images. They require special cartridges, though I "think" you can use the regular cartridges in it also. I think this is the top of line for the very avid crafter. I have no idea how long the ink cartridges last on the Imagine. You'll have to check that before you buy. I think it's a nice addition if you have a lot a money to spare.
If I had a lot of money though, I would invest in the E2 and buy myself a Cuttlebug for embossing. :) Since I don't have a lot of money, I bought the Expression (in red :)) and I'm very happy with it. You can also look which cartridges come with the machine you buy. That may help you decide.
I hope it helps you a bit. I found most of the information here when I was looking to buy my Cricut. You might want to double check them. I'm pretty sure they are accurate, but I don't want you to be disappointed because I wrote something that you believed and then it's not true.
Enjoy crafting and let me know which one you'll choose :)
the main one I would consider is Cuttlebug. It cuts dies, does embossing as well. I have the cricut expression and hardly ever use the machine. Have much more fun with my cuttlebug, The embossing folders are reasonable, and the spellbinder dies cut great, I bought the expression before knowing the best was my cuttlebug. if you don't have any, That's the one.to start with. Regina's reply is a very good explanation. I am considering now the Grand Calibur, to go along with my Cuttlebug because I Iove to do the dies so much, and good for my budget. Will not buy anymore cricut cartridges either. Hope this helps.
You can go see this video. It helped me to chose. (But I'm so jealous of her dark pink Cuttlebug! snif snif...they don't make it anymore :))
Pattie Jones said:
I see most of us have the Cuttle bug and the cricut machines but how does the Big Shot compare to these?
I prefer my silhouette over my Cricut Expressions. The Cricut doesn't cut nearly as well as the silhouette. I have seen the Silhouette cut very intricate designs effortlessly, whereas the Cricut does not do intricate very well. Plus, the silhouette has an online store where you can download whatever shape you may need to your computer. It is also much lighter then the expressions which means easier to transport. You don't have to worry about taking cartridges or a computer with you to use it either because it has a slot for an SD card. I had been an avid Cricut user for about 8 years but became so frustrated with the ruined pieces of paper, trying to find the right blade setting, buying expensive cartridges for one shape and then, to top it off, cricut became incompatible with Sir Cuts Alot and Making the Cut (third party programs that allow you to design and cut your own shapes). I gave up on the Cricut after that because I enjoy the freedom of cutting my own designs or other SVG files. I bought the silhouette (which you can cut all the fonts from your computer, your own designs, other designs - in other words you aren't limited to a cartridge) and haven't used the cricut since. Not to mention that some of your top stamp companies now create silhouette files that are compatible with their stamps (Hero Arts for one). Further, the silhouette has many files that can be printed on your home printer and then cut out using your silhouette - like the Imagine but for much less! I haven't ruined any pieces of paper either as it seems it cuts correctly on the first try! The silhouette program is very user friendly and I was cutting within minutes of downloading it. I use a cuttlebug for embossing and cutting felt as that seems the easiest, but have been contemplating getting one of the heavier duty embossing machines (i.e. big shot) because there is a bit more force applied therefore easier cutting and better embossing. However, I don't have anything against the cuttlebug, it works well enough. I haven't tried felt on the silhouette yet and gave up long ago trying to cut felt with the Cricut Expressions. Kristina Werner does a great video on the comparison between the Cricut vs Silhouette
I have a Cuttlebug, and have had it for years. I rarely use it . Last Nov. I bought a Vagabond and love it. Check out Tim Holtz's site for a video. I use Spellbinders. Cheery Lynn dies and all Sizzix dies and folders with my Vagabond.