Top positive review
Overpriced for the extras...
December 29, 2018
My daughter wanted a Cricut machine for Christmas. We did some research and decided to get the maker now, rather than buy the air machine now and upgrade to a maker later. Time will tell if that was wise or not. In the meantime, since this was a Christmas gift, we wanted to have everything we needed in one place.
I felt we paid an awfully high premium for that. Another reviewer says that the extras can be purchased for quite a bit less if you just make a list of what comes with this kit, and order it separately. I'm knocking one-half star for that. Usually when you buy extras, you hope to get a little bit of a bargain for buying in bulk - so to speak. Not to be taken advantage of for buying more. On the other hand, it is nice to be able to buy a set that comes with all you need to get started right away if you aren't knowledgeable about the product. Someone might argue that is what you are paying for here - but in this day and age, the manufacturer usually goes out of their way to help you buy their product, not take advantage of you if you are new.
Moving on from that, my next half star comes from two other things. Cricut is clearly trying to hold on - as best as they can - to an old, pre-internet, model of business. Kind of like Apple, they are trying to wall things off so that you have to pay them a fee to use the product you have already purchased. I signed up for this $10 a month program because my daughter is young (10 years old) and while she is VERY savvy when it comes to crafting, I wanted to have her hand held until she figures all of this out. But Cricut requires you to be connected to the internet to use their designspace software, which is just ludicrous. I would have bought a different brand based on that alone if this were for me or my wife. But again, wanting this to be as easy as possible for my daughter and Cricut has leveraged their early success into a huge user base and they are the name brand that is standardized, kind of like photoshop in the photography editing business.
Also, we found the startup project to be frustrating and annoying. We still have no idea why, but after following the instructions dutifully, the project began drawing OUTSIDE of the mat's gridlines. It took us a great deal of time to redo the project (not re-doing it - but getting the machine to start over and walk us through the project as if it were the first time again) and magically it worked the second time. Since then, there has been no problem.
We also find that the software is not intuitive. You would expect WYSIWIG (what you see is what you get) but it is, for no understandable reason, not. You can carefully place fonts and images on the screen and get ready to cut them, and it will have them scattered all over the cutting surface. You have to go back and "weld" the items together in order to correct this. I suppose once you learn this, it is no longer an issue. But for the first time user, and because it literally adds an un-necessary step to every single project you do, and every time you make a change, you must remember to do it again, it is unfathomably bad form. It would be far easier to make it WYSIWIG and then allow the user to UNCHECK that option and let Cricuit's software to scatter the cutting across the sheet in whatever logic it is using if someone wanted to do so for some reason. But they don't do that, they make you weld over and over and over again and if you forget, you have to go back to the editing screens and do it. That's just really bad programming.
The software feels very much like what happens when a single company gets a head-start, and people invest a lot of time and money into the company, and then it is very hard for that company to be dethroned until enough people come along and invest in another company that offers enough better features to make it worth the effort.
There are several other very good competitors, but for us Cricut made the most sense in spite of my obvious dislike for some of their practices and methods.
So what on earth causes me to give this four stars after that barrage of abuse? The technology of the actual machine is pretty nifty. (Yes, I said "nifty." I'm in my 50's now so it is ok.) To be able to cut thin vinyl with the degree of precision that this device is able to do, in a home product under $400 is pretty amazing. And honestly, we might have been just as well off with the Air model for far less.
Our limited experience so far had enabled us - after a few annoying mis-steps - to make several very cool vinyl stickers and ultimately, it boils down to this - this machine is the mechanical essence of who my daughter is right now. She lives to make projects. Slime, paper projects, foil, stickers and t-shirts are all the air that she breathes.
This will go down as the Christmas to remember for quite some time. We were able to get her something that will greatly add to her enjoyment of life and even the rest of us will find some fun uses for this product.
So it gets four stars for the amazingly cool technology and what it is able to do and how much fun she is going to have doing it, even if the company itself tries to lessen the experience with their odd policies and annoying drawbacks. It is still very amazing and very fun.