Is Cricut Explore Air 2 a Worthy Successor?
A DIY-hobby can make you so powerful:
- You make your own ornaments the way you like it,
- You expand your creative possibilities, AND
- You don’t have to worry about the gifts for your loved ones
Die-cutting is certainly becoming more and more popular because artists have recognized the possibility to make all that they can envision and more.
However, there are a few steps before their imagination becomes a reality, and buying a die-cutting machine is the first one.
Of course, as the number of crafters grows, the offers on the market grow as well, so the purchasing a die-cutting machine requires a couple of sub-steps before you finally do it.
This means you get to choose between electronic and manual die-cutters, smaller and larger, you pick the range of materials you want to use, and even how much space in the room you want to dedicate to your tool.
I know this is a very complicated task, but cast aside your worries, as I will help you find the choice that was meant for you and your DIY projects.
Today, I’ll be comparing and contrasting two options by the same manufacturer – Cricut Explore Air Vs. Cricut Explore Air 2.
By the way, if you’re considering buying a Cricut machine, now is the perfect time to read my article about the best upcoming deals and get a considerable discount.
We will start with a short introduction for both so that you see what features each machine has and, ultimately, which one deserves the higher grade.
Cricut Explore Air Vs. Cricut Explore Air 2 – The Main Characteristics
Here is the table that will give you a hint of what to expect in this review and how these two options compare in formal terms.
|Feature||Cricut Explore Air||Cricut Explore Air 2|
|Dimensions||25.4 x 10 x 9.2 inches (64.5 x 25 x 23.3 cm)||22.5 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches (57 x 18 x 16 cm)|
|Weight||10.9 pounds (4.9 kg)||14 pounds (6.3 kg)|
|Downward force||200 g||210 g|
|Software||Cricut Design Space||Cricut Design Space|
|Fast cutting mode||No||Yes|
This was some essential information about the machines, but it is more important what these features mean in reality and how they function!
Cricut Explore Air Vs. Cricut Explore Air 2: Getting Into Details
In order for the comparative analyses to take place, we must first get to know both the red and the blue corner – in this case, the Cricut Explore Air and Cricut Explore Air 2.
Cricut is a famous brand when it comes to die-cutting machines and support materials, and they launched the Cricut Explore Air 2 as an upgrade to the Cricut Explore Air.
Will the newer version be better?
Cricut Explore Air – Treading the Boards
A revolutionary machine by Cricut that opened up a vast range of possibilities is certainly the Cricut Explore Air, famous among the crafters.
Its hidden power is that it is a great tool for both beginners and seasoned pros.
Not only does it support a wider range of materials than its predecessors, but it also allows you to cut and draw at the same time, meaning the blade and the pen can be employed together at once.
Take a look at the official presentation of this machine here:
Although it does not have a handle, it is portable, and it comes with a bag, so I do not consider this a great flaw.
The Smart Set is a great feature that helps you adjust the settings easily, faster than ever. It has preferred settings for the materials that are most commonly used.
A tip: If you notice that the settings don’t work out right for you, try using the programs in-between the two materials.
Of course, you can always set the dial to “custom” and adjust your settings manually.
Here you can find a visual guide for setting your machine up:
If you decide to buy the Cricut Explore Air basic set, without any bundles, this is what you will get:
- A power cord
- A USB cord
- Already set up blade and housing
- Already set up pen and add-on adapter
- Cardstock for your beginner projects (blue and grey)
- Cutting mat (12 x 12 inches/30 x 30 cm)
This machine also enables you to engrave, have a look here how it happens:
All these amazing features categorize the Cricut Explore Air into a semi-professional device for die-cutting.
Cricut Explore Air 2 in Key Points
Let’s now take a closer look at the upgrade of the Cricut Explore Air and our second choice for today, Cricut Explore Air 2.
This was the official Cricut presentation:
What are the enhancement and highlight features?
To start with, this is one among the machines I would put in the Cricut machines of all time. Depending on your needs and crafting projects, this might differ for you, and I will help you create your own shortlist.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is also equipped with the Smart Set settings for your convenience, and its auto-settings cover over eighty different materials.
The most prominent upgrade is the Fast cutting mode, which I tried out with many materials. It worked like a charm even with some thick fabrics, and the speed was unchanged, while the quality of the cuts was impeccable.
The cutting power is 210 g. With the standard blade, you can cut 1.5mm, whereas the deep blade will allow you to cut 2mm deep cuts.
The dual carriage is efficient and enables two actions at once (combined with the fast mode… a breakneck pace).
Check out the official presentation of these two features:
Setting up this machine is easy, yet a little bit more complicated than with the Cricut Explore Air since this one has more functions.
However, a few presses of a button later, and a few clicks here and there, and you’ll be ready to go!
Here is a short tutorial, if you’re more of a visual-type-of person.
If it sparked your interest, please make sure you read my full Cricut Explore Air 2 review.
What makes the Distinction between the Cricut Explore Air and Cricut Explore Air 2?
It was essential to meet both the contestants before the actual comparison, and now we can finally proceed to analyze their similarities and differences.
Take a quick glance at the main differences between the Cricut Explore Air and Cricut Explore Air 2:
|Main Differences||Cricut Explore Air||Cricut Explore Air 2|
|Size||25.4 x 10 x 9.2 inches||22.5 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches|
|Weight||4.9 kg||6.3 kg|
|Noise||quiet||a bit louder|
Dissimilarity #1 – Acceleration
The major upgrade to the Cricut Explore Air 2 compared to its predecessor is the speed.
The number “2” does not only stand for the second, enhanced version of the Cricut Explore Air, but also for being twice as fast. That means that you will have a double amount of projects for the same amount of time, and most importantly, not at the expense of quality.
You will save up some time and produce more goods than ever with this feature, and it certainly earns Cricut Explore Air 2 a big bonus when it comes to calculating the grades.
Here is the video that shows the speed comparison of these two machines, so that you can see for yourself what the numbers really mean:
Dissimilarity #2 – Design
For some people, this is not an important factor, but if you’re anywhere like me, you want your die-cutting machine to look nice and sleek, and have that perfect not-too-robust-not-too-tiny size.
After all, you’ll be looking at and using it every day.
Cricut Explore Air 2 wins once more.
It is smaller in size than Cricut Explore Air (which is, again, not too big), while it is only slightly heavier.
Both machines can be easily transported, though, and require a middle-sized worktable.
But what finally earned Cricut Explore Air 2 a higher score in the physical department is the design. It comes in a variety of elegant and smart colors, such as mint (my favorite, a perfect match to the Silhouette Mint), cherry blossom, lilac, matte black, persimmon, rose and twilight.
Of course, Cricut Explore Air 2 has a strong set of features to back up the impressive looks.
Dissimilarity #3 – Ease of Use
While both machines are mostly for home use (although characteristics such as the quality of the blades and the speed of the Cricut Explore Air 2 put it into the category of semi-professional machines), the Cricut Explore Air is a bit simpler to use.
All the buttons are labeled, the manuals are clear, and the Smart Set settings are accurate and efficient.
I do wish that there were more controls, rotary dials, levers, or even a screen on these machines, but again, that would add to their complexity.
This way, everything can be accessed in a second. Therefore, if you want a reliable tool that is extremely easy-to-use, this aspect should prevail, and your choice should be the Cricut Explore Air.
Dissimilarity #4 – Noise
Remember when I told you that speed does not come at the expense of quality?
It does at the expense of quietness, though.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is louder and it vibrates more. To me, this is not a big deal, considering its productivity, but I know some people who are extremely sensitive to noise, so I wanted to warn you about that.
Now that we’ve covered the differences, let’s go on with the similarities, which definitely prevail.
The Cricut Explore Air and Cricut Explore Air 2 do not differ much, except for the things I mentioned, and those are really some tiny details, except for the speed.
This is a table of the main common features of these two machines:
|Main Similarities||Cricut Explore Air||Cricut Explore Air 2|
|Software||Cricut Design Space||Cricut Design Space|
|Accessories||Cricut cutting mats, Cricut Explore Pens, Cricut Explore Scoring Stylus||Cricut cutting mats, Cricut Explore Pens, Cricut Explore Scoring Stylus|
|Cutting force||200 grams||210 grams|
Similarity #1 – Versatility
No matter which of these two Cricut machines you purchase, you’ll be able to create many different projects with it.
They allow you to do two actions at the same time thanks to the Double Tool Holder, including drawing, etching, and engraving.
To give you an idea of how versatile these two machines are, here is an extensive (yet not exhaustive, as I cannot remember them all) list of the projects that I made with the Cricut Explore Air and Air 2:
- Leather bracelets
- Vinyl stickers for notebooks, bags and mugs
- Paper tags, gift boxes, jewelry boxes
- Wooden figures
- Glitter paper greeting cards
- Engraved corks
One project that I always wanted to try out making are cake toppers, and here’s a handy tutorial on that:
As you can see, the amount of possibilities that you get with these two machines is quite impressive, and it is partly due to the fact that they support over 100 different materials!
Similarity #2 – Accessories
All the main Cricut products and accessories are compatible with both machines.
Also, both have a handy circular compartment for storing your add-ons.
To start off with the most important add-ons, cutting mats, these two models support the standard 12 x 12’’ and the bigger 12 x 24’’ Cricut cutting mats. From my experience, they are great and the material will not slip at all.
Next up are the Cricut Pens – definitely my favorite accessory, because it enables you to do wonders.
There are many different sets of these, including:
- Cricut Explore Classic
- Cricut Explore Antiquity
- Cricut Explore Gel
- Cricut Explore Wisteria
- Cricut Explore Wildflower (my favorite, with beautiful pastel colors)
These are the ones that I used, but there are many, many more to explore. Just make sure they are compatible with the Explore series.
By the way, don’t forget to recap the pen when you’re taking a break; it’s so frustrating to have a dried-out pen in your favorite color.
There is also the Cricut Scoring Stylus for the perfect lines.
See how the stylus works:
Similarity #3 – Quality of the Cuts
You can rest assured that your cuts will be faultless with any of these two machines.
The German premium quality blade accounts for these crisp and precise cuts.
This one, really, cannot be described until you try it and sense that perfection and pleasure when the machine does exactly what you want it to do, and your projects are exactly how you imagined they would be.
Here is an example of the perfect vinyl-cuts:
Similarity #4 – Software
Last but not least, the Cricut Explore Air and Explore Air 2 use the same software for design – the Cricut Design Space.
I must admit, this is not my favorite when it comes to die-cutting machine software, but it has some excellent features and does the work.
I think that the interface could be better, but Cricut is working on some improvements, and progress can be seen.
For example, previously, there has only been an iPhone and iPad App for the Design Space, but now it is also available for the Android platform.
Together with the embedded Bluetooth on both devices, this offers a better and user-friendly experience.
Another feature that we expect is an offline desktop mode of the software, and then all the areas will be improved.
Other than that, there are many ready-made patterns and projects for you to choose from, and of course, you can create your own designs from scratch by uploading your images, editing and converting them for free.
There are many useful online tutorials for the Design Space, for example:
Cricut Explore Air Vs. Cricut Explore Air 2 – Which One is Better at the End?
At the end of this report, it is the time to reveal who has won this epic cross-generation battle – the older generation representative, Cricut Explore Air, or the newcomers, represented by the Cricut Explore Air 2?
The answer is: the difference is not big enough for one to be strictly proclaimed the winner.
While the Cricut Explore Air is a little overshadowed by the Explore Air 2 in terms of speed and design, everything else is very similar.
Therefore, this would be my advice: If you’re looking for a machine for a professional home-business, buy the Cricut Explore Air 2. If you’re using the machine for your hobby, both will be a great choice.