CHA Summer 2011 | New Cricut and Silhouette Digital Cutters

Electronic die cutting powerhouses ProvoCraft (makers of the Cricut line) and Silhouette both unveiled new machines and new functionality at the CHA Summer 2011 show. Both companies are vying for a larger piece of the market, but they’re doing it in completely different ways – ProvoCraft by reaching out to the lower-cost market and Silhouette by beefing up the size of its machine.

Provocraft announced two new additions to its line of Cricut electronic die cutting machines. The first, the Cricut Expression 2, is a remake of the Cricut Expression 2 Anniversary Edition that was debuted at CHA Winter 2011. The restyled machine, capable of cutting a mat size of up to 12″ x 24″, retains most of the Anniversary Edition’s feature set including a sleek new design, LCD touch screen with mat preview, cutting area light, and the ability to save cutting settings for specific materials such as chipboard, fabric, or cardstock. The differences between the Cricut Expression 2 and the Cricut Expression 2 Anniversary Edition are actually purely cosmetic and content-related. The newer Expression 2 ships with silver endcaps instead of the bright green of the Anniversary Edition (though both models advertise swappable side trim pieces), and the new machine also lacks the two exclusive cartridges (Just a Note and Cricut Decals Cartridge) that the Anniversary Edition shipped with, sporting only Cricut American Alphabet and Cricut Essentials in its pre-loaded content library.

While ProvoCraft’s flagship Cricut Expression 2 remains largely unchanged since its debut, the company is showing signs of reaching out to a new segment of the market by delivering a brand new machine, the Cricut Mini, at a relatively low price point. The Cricut Mini (MSRP $119) is ProvoCraft’s new small, lightweight, and portable electronic die cutter sporting a mat size of 8.5″ x 12″ – a departure from the long-standing 6″ x 12″, 12″ x 12″, and 12″ x 24″ mats that have been standard for Cricuts in the past. Size isn’t the only thing that’s different about this machine – the Cricut Mini lacks both a control mechanism (the only buttons are the power and load buttons) and a cartridge port, because it’s designed to work exclusively with ProvoCraft’s upcoming Cricut Craft Room software. The Cricut Mini will connect to either a Mac or Windows computer (both wireless and wired connections are supported) and will also include a cartridge port to link your cartridges with the Cricut Craft Room software. A ProvoCraft representative that Scrapbook Update spoke with at CHA confirmed that the new machine will also be compatible with the existing Cricut Gypsy device.

The smaller size and lower price point of this machine makes it more appealing to crafters who may only want an electronic die cutter for occasional use – perhaps for a DIY wedding or to have on hand for school projects. The 8.5″ x 12″ size also makes it a great option for cardmakers who often work with 8.5″ x 11″ paper and don’t need (or want to store) the bulk of the larger Cricut Expression.

Provo Craft’s Cricut Craft Room software is still in beta testing but is due to be released (along with the Cricut Mini) later this fall. The software will give users the ability to design with the entire Cricut cartridge library on their computer screen (both Mac and Windows are supported), though cutting will only be allowed using cartridges that the user owns. The program will also include search capabilities and allow the user to store their projects and cartridge content online and then access them from any computer at any time.

Silhouette also introduced a new size of their popular electronic die cutting machine at CHA Summer 2011. The Silhouette Cameo (MSRP $299, available October 2011) is capable of cutting materials up to 12″ wide and up to 10′ long, giving a huge boost in size over the now discontinued Silhouette SD. Like its predecessor, the Cameo is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers.
Silhouette actually had a Cameo on hand in their booth at CHA Summer 2011 along with several display projects like this intricate lace paper, similar to popular laser-cut papers that are produced commercially.
The Silhouette Cameo is capable of making extremely intricate cuts, one of the hallmarks of the old Silhouette SD.
Each box in this pair of advent calendars was cut using the Silhouette Cameo and shows the amazing variety of items that this machine can produce.

While CHA Summer 2011 may not have seen some of the massive innovations (such as the Cricut Imagine’s integrated print & cut feature from CHA Winter 2011) that have been debuted at past shows, the cutters that were shown have solid feature sets and have made improvements either in size or functionality in response to user requests. Those looking to buy their first electronic die cutting machine or to simply upgrade from an older one will have plenty to choose from in this new crop of devices.

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21 Responses to CHA Summer 2011 | New Cricut and Silhouette Digital Cutters

  1. Beth August 10, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    I currently have the Silhouette SD and love it, but the Cameo’s new size is WONDERFUL. Do you happen to know if the Cameo will take the items people have already downloaded for their Silhouette’s? That’d be fabulous if so!

  2. Duckienz August 11, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    I am fairly certain it will. Traci said something about it on the blog a few days ago I believe. You could go back and check 😀

  3. Gab August 11, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    Ooh I like the sound of the new Cricut mini

  4. Samara j August 11, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    Yes, users will be able to transfer the images they may currently own and stored on the Silhouette SD. I can’t wait for the release of the Cameo!

    • Beth August 11, 2011 at 11:44 am #

      Thanks ladies!! Very excited! Got to start saving up for the Cameo now. 🙂 On my must have list!

  5. Terri Torrez August 11, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    Do you know if the new Silhouette will be able to cut thicker materials than the old?

    • sasha December 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

      Yes, it cuts much thicker.

  6. JillT August 11, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Thanks for this article. I have been holding out. . .assuming that Silhouette would smarten up and make a bigger machine.

  7. Karen Osborn August 11, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    I can’t WAIT for the Cameo to hit the stores!!! I’ll be first in line…well, maybe not FIRST, but certainly in line!

  8. Lacey I August 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    great reviews. I have the original cricut which i never use. I want to make my own images vs. cartridges. I’ve wanted a silhouette for a while now – it’s just no in the budget at this time. Something I”ll definitely be saving up for! I lvoe the flexibility of it and now the bigger size is fantastic!

  9. Terri Harmon August 11, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    I was impressed at CHA with all that I learned about the new Silhouette and will also be standing in line to upgrade from my original version (not even the SD). Can’t wait to play with the new machine!

    • sasha December 3, 2011 at 12:01 am #

      I have the origonal version as well. Can’t save up fast enough!!

  10. Natalie M August 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    I sure hope Creative Memories comes out with an E2 that is preloaded with Creative Memories carts! I could get my consultant discount, woo hoo!

  11. Tina V August 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    What software is compatible with the Cameo? I really like the idea of being able to choose/design own images and not be limited by cartridges and still be able to cut up to 12 inches wide!

  12. Jennifer Priest August 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Tina, the Cameo uses the same Silhouette Studio software as the Silhouette SD. One of the wonderful things about it that I saw at the show–they had at least 4 Cameo machines out for your to try and demo — was that you can still use your 9″ wide mats (original and SD mats) in the Cameo because the rollers can be moved along the bar in the machine. I like that the Cameo is essentially the same price as the SD Machine.

    The images you have downloaded into your My Library as well as images you have created in the Silhouette Studio software are all tied to the software, not the machine. You should be able to plug in the Cameo, update the drivers from the Silhouette website, and be up and running in no time, with no new software to learn at all. You can sell your Silhouette SD or give it to someone else and they will not have any of your shapes–they will have to download the software themselves and start their own account on the Silhouette website. HTH

    I teach Silhouette classes online but do not work for them in any way.

    • Alice Cauble September 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

      Where can I find info about your online classes? Thanks.

      • Nancy Nally September 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

        Links to the classes at Big Picture that May and I currently have available are in the sidebar to the right of this article. Thanks!

  13. Heather September 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I am trying to decide between the Silhouette and the Cricut Expression 2. Give me your pros and Cons.

    • sasha December 3, 2011 at 12:07 am #

      Cricut is easy – find an image you like and cut. Ok, so you can also do that with the cameo, the online store is vast. With the cameo, you can also use more advanced design software like the design master. You can import images from anywhere and cut them out. I even turned photos of my kids into cutouts, and you could tell who they were, the software contrasted light and shade, and gave me very clear cut outs. They are two of my favourite scrapbook pages. Ok, so I do love it. I want the new one, but i am hooked on the cricut – it’s just so easy!

      • Melinda Strange October 20, 2012 at 10:03 am #

        Sasha – thanks. I was looking for info to help me decide, I have a Cricut Expression and their Mini and I love both, just wish the Cricut Craft Room (CCR) was a little more stable – lot’s of connection / crash issues that they just can’t seem to get a handle on. I was interested in the Silhouette mainly because I don’t want to buy more cartridges to store. If CCR was more stable, I would be happy with what I have. It’s been almost a year since your post on this blog, do you still like both, prefer one over the other – any help would be appreciated. It will probably be early 2013 before I spend money on anything other than Christmas and taxes – ha! Thanks again.

        Melinda Strange
        Huntsville, TX

  14. Katrina March 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    So I have a question. I am a student teacher right now, but I know that these machines would be nice to have for teaching. What brand would be better? Also my friend is a graphic designer, which one would be better for her?

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