Is There More To It Than Size?
Your search for a new cutting machine probably started with you browsing the market to see what’s out there. We all do it when we’re shopping for any household appliances – and it almost always stems from the fear of overlooking a better deal.
Since you’re here, it’s safe to assume two things:
One, you narrowed your choice down to two of Silhouette’s most popular models.
And two, you need help with deciding which of the two is a better fit for your particular needs.
Trust me; you’re not alone – I get the same Silhouette Portrait vs. Cameo question all the time!
That’s why today, I’ve decided to do something a bit different. Rather than reviewing the two, as I did in my Silhouette machine reviews, I wanted to focus on what sets these models apart and makes them unique.
So, let’s take a closer look at their differences and similarities – and what makes them so unique, too. By the time you’re done reading this, you should be able to make that choice easily!
Let’s get to it!
- What Makes Silhouette Cutting Machines A Worthy Investment?
- Silhouette Portrait Vs. Cameo: Side-By-Side Comparison
- Silhouette Portrait Vs. Cameo: Getting To Know These Cutting Machines
- The Silhouette Portrait 2 At A Glance
- The Silhouette Cameo 3 At A Glance
- What Sets The Silhouette Portrait And The Silhouette Cameo Apart?
- Silhouette Portrait & Silhouette Cameo: What Are The Similarities?
- Silhouette Portrait Vs. Cameo: The Final Weigh-In
What Makes Silhouette Cutting Machines A Worthy Investment?
Since you’re reading this, you’re probably aware that Silhouette isn’t the only brand out there. There are several other names in the industry, including the ever so popular – and somewhat expensive – Cricut cutting machines.
Which brings us to the next question:
Why should you go with Silhouette, instead? What makes their models worth your time and, more importantly, your money?
Well, there might be other brands that offer electronic cutting machines – that part’s true. However, if you look at their price tags and all the additional expenses they often require, one thing becomes apparent:
The costs of operating some of these cutting machines can rack up before you know it.
And that’s where Silhouette’s units come in and steal the show.
Their cutting machines use the free Silhouette Studio Software, which is readily available for download on their website. Granted, paid upgrades are also an option, but the free software is, in my experience, more than enough for general use.
If you need help installing the Silhouette Studio software, this tutorial should help:
Another notable factor here is the Silhouette’s online design store. Much like any other electronic cutting machine, Silhouette’s units also rely on ready-made designs that can be found and downloaded online.
The main difference here is in the price. Most of Silhouette’s designs, including fonts and 3D crafts, are surprisingly cheap, especially compared to those found in Cricut’s Design Space.
Yes, you read that right – cheap.
What I’m saying is that, for a budget-minded user, the Silhouette’s cutting machines are the obvious choice. If you’re looking for an electronic cutting machine that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, you’re going to find it in Silhouette’s lineup of products.
Silhouette Portrait Vs. Cameo: Side-By-Side Comparison
First off, I’d like to go over this comparison chart with you. You’ll see all their highlighted features, specs, dimensions, and other valuable info. The goal is to help you understand what these two units have to offer – before we dive into the details of it, that is.
|Feature||Silhouette Portrait 2||Silhouette Cameo 3|
|Dimensions||18 by 8 by 9 inches||22.5 by 8.5 by 6 inches|
|Weight||3.53 pounds||6 pounds|
|Cutting Width||8 inches||12 inches|
|Clearance||2 mm||2 mm|
|Maximum Cutting Pressure||7.6 lbs/sq.in||8.3 lbs/sq.in|
|Software||Silhouette Studio Software||Silhouette Studio Software|
|Highlighted Features||Lightweight and portable||Dual carriage, LCD touch screen|
|Warranty||One-year warranty||One-year warranty|
Now that we have the basics covered, I’d say it’s time to get up close and personal with both of these cutting machines. So, continue reading for my full take on these models – and my final
Silhouette Portrait vs. Cameo verdict!
Silhouette Portrait Vs. Cameo: Getting To Know These Cutting Machines
Silhouette is widely known among lovers of arts and crafts for their two electronic cutting machines – the Cameo and the Portrait.
Since we’re here to put the whole Silhouette Portrait vs. Cameo debate to rest, the first step is to get more familiar with both cutting machines.
So, this next part is all about getting to know both the Portrait 2 and the Cameo 3 a bit better. It should help you understand what they’re all about!
The Silhouette Portrait 2 At A Glance
This electronic cutting machine was designed as one of Silhouette’s most compact models – creating a smaller, lighter frame was a top priority here. Furthermore, as I mentioned in my Portrait 2 review, it’s easily one of the smallest cutting machines I’ve ever used!
It’s sleek, it’s functional, and it won’t take over your work area – which was quite refreshing. Also, I couldn’t help but notice how quiet it is, even when its cutting abilities are put to a severe test.
Everything about it – from design to performance – is so inconspicuous!
Don’t be fooled by its relatively compact size, though. Although small, the Portrait 2 still packs quite a punch. I’ll even go ahead and say that it offers as much power and versatility as some of its larger competitors.
You won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything if you opt for this highly portable cutting machine. It’s user-friendly and straightforward, but it doesn’t struggle with more complex projects, either.
You’ll get tons of work done with this one – and for the average DIY-er, that should be more than enough.
And the best part is that, as long as you have a working laptop on you, you can bring the Portrait 2 with you wherever you go!
Here’s how Silhouette announced the Portrait 2 cutting machine:
The Silhouette Cameo 3 At A Glance
If you’re familiar with Silhouette’s cutting machines, chances are you’ve heard of its predecessor, the Cameo 2. And as I’ve pointed out in my Silhouette Cameo 3 review, as outstanding as Cameo 2 was, this one’s a definite upgrade!
More importantly, compared to Portrait 2, Cameo 3 can be considered a more high-end option out of the two. Not only is it physically more prominent, but it comes with a plethora of advanced features, as well.
It’s clear that the idea was to create a modern, sleek-looking cutting machine – and they delivered on that perfectly. Sometimes it looks cool just sitting there on your desk!
And it doesn’t end with the good looks, either.
It hits the perfect balance between stylish and sturdy, and it’s much more robust than it looks. I think that, with proper care and maintenance, it could last for years to come.
I know you’re more interested in what’s under the hood, though, so I won’t keep you waiting.
Besides the various compatibility options, the handy dual carriage, and the heavily-advertised option to go wireless, there’s one more notable aspect of its performance – ease of use.
I was beyond surprised by how easy it is to find your way around the Cameo. If you’re worried about it being too „technologically advanced“ for you, don’t:
It’s incredibly user-friendly, even from a novice’s point of view!
Before you continue reading, watch this video introduction of Cameo 3:
What Sets The Silhouette Portrait And The Silhouette Cameo Apart?
Assuming that you already went through my reviews of these two cutting machines, you’re probably already aware of the existing differences between the two, as well.
Otherwise, reading this comparison – or writing it, for that matter – wouldn’t make much sense, now, would it?
I’ve listed the essential differences in this side-by-side comparison – take a quick look if you’re in a rush!
|Main Differences||Silhouette Portrait 2||Silhouette Cameo 3|
|Dimensions||18 by 8 by 9 inches||22.5 by 8.5 by 6 inches|
|Cutting Width||8 inches||12 inches|
|Lightweight & Portable||Yes||No|
|Controls||Five control buttons||Color LCD touch screen|
|Multitasking||No (Single carriage)||Yes (Dual carriage)|
|Versatility||Requires a computer connection||Can be used without a computer|
Difference #1: Dimensions & Portability
I figured we should start with one of the most easily identifiable differences between Portrait 2 and the Cameo 3 – their dimensions.
We’ll go from there, and see how this seemingly appearance-related difference affects their performance and your user experience, too.
Size-wise, the Portrait, which measures 18 x 8 x 9 inches, is significantly smaller than the Silhouette’s Cameo, which measures 22.5 x 8.5 x 6 inches.
It’s compact, so it takes up far less space in your work area, and lightweight, too, making portability one of its strong suits.
If your work area is already crowded as is, or you travel a lot – and like to bring your cutting machine with you – the Portrait fits the bill perfectly.
Being physically smaller than the Cameo, the Portrait does feature a somewhat limited cutting area, though. Its maximum is eight inches, compared to Cameo’s full 12-inch cutting width.
Whether this is a deal-breaker or not largely depends on the type of projects you plan on using your new cutting machine for, though.
For instance, small decorative elements, journaling cards, titles, and embellishments can all be easy to cut using the Portrait. With a bit of extra effort, you could probably pull off cutting some more substantial pieces with it, too. You’d have to divide up your project into several cutting sheets, though.
Difference #2: Controls
Another noticeable difference is that the Cameo is the only one in its family that features a color LCD touch screen. It’s intuitive and responsive, which makes it surprisingly easy to access and choose the designs you’re working with at the moment.
Plus, the LCD screen comes with the added functionality of displaying the so-called mini-tutorials whenever you get stuck during a project.
The Portrait, on the other hand, comes equipped with nothing more than a set of five control buttons located on the side of the unit. It takes on a more traditional, straightforward approach, I guess – but I wouldn’t necessarily consider that a flaw.
Sometimes, simpler is better:
I’m sure first-time users will appreciate the fact that they don’t have to deal with tons of complicated controls and features.
Difference #3: Multitasking & Versatility
One of Cameo’s most talked-about features is the dual carriage – a nifty addition that makes it possible to use two different tools at the same time. And yes, that means that the Cameo 3 is fully capable of multitasking!
For instance, if you’d like to use a sketch pen and a blade at the same time, you can. Considering that you can do twice as much work in one pass, this feature is a real time-saver.
You’ll find it particularly handy when you’re pressed with time or working on a last-minute project.
Also, you can pretty much operate the Cameo without having to connect it to your computer – another time-saving feature that isn’t seen in the Portrait model.
You see, it comes with an integrated SD card reader. That means that you can save your previously formatted files to an SD card, and access them later without using a computer.
Granted, I haven’t used this feature – or missed it on my Portrait, for that matter – but it’s a notable difference, either way.
Silhouette Portrait & Silhouette Cameo: What Are The Similarities?
If you’re having a bit of a hard time distinguishing between the two, know that you’re not alone. The truth is, these two cutting machines are relatively similar in what they have to offer to the user.
What makes them so similar?
The best answer anyone could give you, and the shortest one, at that, would be – everything else.
That’s one of the primary reasons why I wanted to explore the differences first and get to the actual similarities later:
Besides the noticeable difference in size and a few extra touches on the Cameo, there’s not much that sets these two apart.
Both are excellent cutters, with a nearly identical level of performance, meaning that you can rely on both of them to get the job done with minimal issues. Granted, they do come with unique sets of features which, in turn, dictate their respective advantages and disadvantages.
However, calling them similar still wouldn’t be an overstatement.
Stick around, and you’ll see what I mean!
Similarity #1: Software & Compatibility
They use the same platform – the Silhouette Studio software mentioned previously – and they allow you to use both custom-created and ready-made designs for your projects.
Furthermore, they’re both compatible with the same technologies, including:
- AutoBlade, a system that allows the machine to set the blade depth automatically, based on the material you’re cutting. It’s not entirely automatic, though, since you still have to select the desired material in the unit’s software, but it’s a time-saver, nonetheless.
- PixScan technology, an innovative feature allows you to capture images, import them, and turn them into cutting files by adding the cut lines. If you prefer to work with custom designs and hand-drawn artwork, you’ll be amazed by this feature!
Watch this video to see how PixScan works:
Similarity #2: Cutting Performance
Both of these machines boast the capability of cutting more than 100 different materials – which is impressive by any standard. That includes vinyl, fabrics, various types of paper, cardstock, heat transfer material – and more!
Here’s how to use your Silhouette cutting machine with vinyl:
Furthermore, they are also capable of delivering reasonably similar levels of pressure, too, with the Cameo 3 leading by no more than 0.7 pounds per square inch.
Lastly, both feature the same 2 mm clearance that allows you to make deeper cuts and work with thicker materials, as well.
Similarity #3: Wireless Operation
Both the Portrait 2 and the Cameo 3 come with the Bluetooth-enabled connectivity, meaning that they can be used wirelessly. That means that you no longer have to worry about all the cables running through your work area – and we all know how frustrating these can be at times.
It even lets you use the cutting machine from across the room, without having to set it up right next to your computer, which is always a plus.
That said, I’m often skeptic when I see „wireless connectivity“ listed in the specs sheet of any cutting machine. I’ve had quite a few less-than-stellar experiences with it – but that’s a whole different story.
Here’s how to connect to your Cameo 3 cutting machine via Bluetooth:
Silhouette Portrait Vs. Cameo: The Final Weigh-In
You’re probably waiting for me to highlight one of these as a “better option.” However, the truth is, both the Silhouette Portrait and the Cameo are excellent cutting machines in their respective fields. It boils down to personal preferences and how you intend to use your cutting machine.
If that’s the case, what can you take away from this detailed Silhouette Portrait vs. Cameo comparison?
If you want a compact and portable cutting machine that comes with a budget-friendly price tag, the Silhouette Portrait 2 is a smart choice. If you’d prefer a larger cutting area and Cameo’s more advanced features – and you’re not afraid to spend more – then go for it.
In any way, I hope that this guide helps you make a choice that works best for you!
As always, you’re welcome to drop your questions and comments in the section below! Let’s hear your opinions on this!