Getting a first Cricut

I am looking to buy my first machine and I’m so excited. I know the maker is more powerful and also more expensive since it’s “better”. But I was wondering if an Explore would work just fine?
I am only using it for personal use, making labels around the house, a few signs for decor and maybe teacher’s gifts or shirts for my kids.
What would you all recommend?

Thank you in advance!

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You might find our comparison on the Explore, Maker, and Joy useful! I personally have the Explore Air 2 and it works great for me! If you’re not going to cut some of the thicker materials or fabric, then I would start with the Explore.

This is probably going to be an unpopular view; but since you don’t have a machine yet if you’re interested in engraving things, I suggest you look at the Silhouette machines, especially the Curio.

I tried both a Cricut Explore and a Silhouette Cameo, and because of Cricut’s awful tech, I greatly preferred the Cameo. In terms of controls and capacity to manipulate objects, the Cameo’s software is very similar to Photoshop. Plus, it can be used offline. I found they were cutting pretty much the same. My sister ended up preferring Cricut Explore Air and she also hates cricut design space alternative as a knowledgeable Photoshop user. To allow for offline editing and some other stuff, Cricut was supposed to update their program a while ago, but as far as I know, that update has not yet come (and it has been a couple years since they announced they were working on it).

@Mehwish_K I’m a Cricut user (got a good deal on my Explore Air and needed to learn it for my customers), but like you, I’m definitely underwhelmed by software designed to encourage people to create exclusively from designs in Cricut’s subscription font and image library, as opposed to designing themselves (or licensing fonts and images from the many designers in the DesignBundles/FontBundles community).
Cricut has updated Design Space to support offline use (if you’ve previously saved your project for offline), but it’s still the basic assumption that you’re a Cricut Access subscriber designing from their libraries.

I usually design in either Illustrator or Inkspace, save my designs in .svg format, and import into Design Space.

@Rubi_M: If you’re set on Cricut machines (and they’re good machines; the only issue many of us have is that we have to do a three-step process of designing, importing, and re-sizing), here’s my take:

  • If you’re just doing labels, you might prefer the Cricut Joy: it’s smaller, and it has Smart Labels which don’t require a mat. It will also do long borders (longer than 24") in a single cut. That said, it won’t cut anything wider than 4.5"

  • As @JordynAlisonDesigns stated, if you don’t need to cut specialty materials (quilting fabrics, balsa wood, etc.) or do any of the special functions of the Maker (score heavy cardstock; etch aluminum plates; cut perforated or wavy lines automatically), then the Explore Air 2 will do the job just fine.