The Cricut Explore Air 2 is hands down one of the most versatile cutting machines out there, able to cut through a whopping 100 different materials. And it can engrave, too.
But does it live up to the hype? And is it good value for money? That’s what this article is going to explore.
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Cricut remains one of the key players in the field of cutting tools. And rather than say “cutting tool” people continue to say Cricut.
Sure, in recent years there have been some great contenders to the throne. Take the Glowforge for instance. The Glowforge can both cut and engrave, and it can work with thicker materials, even the likes of glass and certain metals.
But the Glowforge is way more expensive than a Cricut.
Whereas the Glowforge is basically a machine for professionals who intend to sell on their wares, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is a far more affordable option and is better suited for amateur crafting enthusiasts.
We mentioned this in our introduction, but it bears repeating here, the Cricut Explore Air 2 can cut through a very wide range of materials, over 100 in fact.
These include the likes of not only paper and cardboard, bet also more delicate materials like vellum, and also thicker materials such as vinyl and leather.
One of the great things about the Cricut Explore Air 2 is just how fast it works. It has a fast mode which works at double the speed of Cricut’s previous models. This is great if you have a lot to get done.
The Cricut Explore offers impressive cutting force, coming in at a whopping 400 grams.
That’s significantly greater than the cutting force offered by wannabe brands, which only offer between 210 and 350 grams of cutting force. That is why this machine can handle so many different materials.
One of the great things about the Cricut Explore Air 2, is how it can set tools to work at the same time. This means you can use the machine to cut and draw on your materials at the same time. It can be quite the time saver!
In addition to the blades, and the pen, there’s also a handy scoring tool.
Cutting Depth and Area
It’s important to bear in mind that the machine’s dimensions don’t directly translate to total cutting area.
For example, you can fit any material within the machine, so long as it’s no more than 2 mm thick. But that does not mean that the machine can cut through 2 mm material.
The cutting depth is only 1.2 mm. But we would argue that that’s still pretty decent.
The cutting area isn’t as large as we would like it to be. The total cutting area is 9.25 inches long by 6.75 inches wide, which is smaller than a piece of A4 paper.
The only way to operate a Cricut machine, including this one, is with the brand’s own design software, known as Design Space.
This software features a limited number of free images, fonts, and ready-to-make projects. But to really make the most out of your machine and get your money’s worth, we would argue that it’s definitely worth signing up for the Cricut Access subscription.
The Cricut Access subscription is very reasonably priced, and it gives you access to thousands of ready-to-make projects, over 100,000 non-licensed images, and over 500 fonts.
It’s important to note at this point that Design Space is cloud-based, so you will need a WiFi connection to access it.
But where you can get really creative with your Cricut Explore Air 2, is when you create your very own unique images with the Design Space software.
You can make just about anything and customize and personalize your items however you like. The possibilities are endless.
Moreover, you don’t necessarily need to have a PC or laptop to use the Cricut Explore Air 2, because the software you need to use is also compatible with iOS and Android devices such as tablets and smartphones.
That said, we would argue that the software is easier to use on a laptop.
Is It Easy to Use?
Using the machine is straightforward enough. It’s mostly just a case of hooking up from your device to the machine via Bluetooth, positioning your material, attaching the tools you want, and hitting the button.
It’s using the software that requires a little more time and familiarity, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.
The advantages of the machine are basically all the things we listed in the section on features. Here’s a quick recap:
- Versatility – you can use over 100 materials
- Speed – it can go twice as fast as previous models
- Cutting Force – a whopping 400g of cutting force
- Dual Carriage – you can use two tools at the same time
And we can safely add on some more:
- Easy to use
- Excellent customer ratings and reviews
- Good value for money
It wouldn’t be a fair review if we didn’t make a note of some of the drawbacks that users have experienced.
One of the more minor issues is how loud the machine is when you put it into fast mode. The rest of the time the noise level is ok, and it’s much quieter than other brands of cutters.
The other drawback to the machine is that to get your value for money for it, you would be well advised to sign up for a Cricut Access subscription, which means that rather than just paying one one-off payment for the machine itself, you will have to keep paying money for as long as you want to be subscribed.
Rather Basic Design Software
Moreover, there are those who argue that the Design Space software is rather basic, and there is a case for opening up to third party design software, for more advanced graphic design.
Short Product Lifespan
Some users have reported that their machine suddenly stopped working after a few months. But this problem seems to lie with the power cord rather than the machine itself, so it’s a problem that can be very easily solved, if correctly diagnosed.
Tech Support Could Be Better
And speaking of solving problems, that’s another issue. There is some after sales technical support available, but this has received rather mixed reviews. Most customers are happy with it, but there is a proportion who are less than impressed.
Value for Money
Unfortunately, we don’t mention exact prices on our website in case prices change, but, If you were to click on the link provided, the product page for Amazon will open up in another tab, and from there you can check the current price.
And it’s certainly worth noting at this point that Amazon occasionally has deals on Cricut Explore Air 2, and you can potentially save tens of dollars by buying this way.
If you’re a fervent crafter, and you know that you’re really going to get a good lot of use out of the machine, then it’s going to be great value for money for you, even if you end up paying the full listing price.
Moreover, the standard Cricut Access subscription is good value for money, too. Especially if you pay annually rather than monthly. Or you could consider the premium subscription which has a higher fee but gives you 20% off materials.
What Other People Are Saying About It
Strangely, the Cricut website doesn’t share any customer reviews with its online visitors, and this really is a huge missed opportunity because elsewhere on the net, people are raving about how great this machine is.
Take leading online retailer Amazon for example. When this article was written, there had been well over 28,000 individual customer ratings.
Yet, the average customer rating still comes in at a phenomenal full 5 stars out of 5, which you have to admit is pretty impressive.
And that’s because about 90% of customers gave it a full 5-star rating. They praised it for several important features, including durability, versatility, and ease of use.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is an excellent little machine. Incredibly versatile, and very reliable. We’d even go so far as to say that it’s good value for money, even if you include the Cricut Access subscription.
And it’s so easy to use that even beginners can make some excellent works of art from their very first use.
There are a few cons, for sure, but in our view, the pros by far outweigh the cons.
And you don’t have to just take our word for it – check out what we said about the phenomenal customer ratings and reviews.