PROS / The Silhouette CAMEO produces quick and clean vinyl lettering.
CONS / Its low-pressure blade makes it hard to cut through anything tougher than chipboard.
VERDICT / This die-cutting machine lacks some versatility though it can help you effortlessly make many lovely paper projects.
The Silhouette CAMEO does not have the muscle to power through materials like balsa wood or leather, but it is an excellent die cutter for most craft projects. Not every crafter wants an industrial-strength die-cutting machine, but for those who want a basic die cutter, the Silhouette CAMEO may be a great fit.
CAMEO has a well-deserved, loyal following as a cartridge-free die cutter. You can create beautiful designs from scratch instead of relying on cartridges with this die-cut machine, but you also get the freedom to cut without a computer when you save your designs to a jump drive. The CAMEO is the most user-friendly die-cutting machine we reviewed. We were able to operate it (and the included software) within minutes of taking the cutter out of the box.
The latest CAMEO features an easy-to-use, full-color touchscreen. It also has print-and-cut functionality so you can cut around a pre-printed image of your choice. With PixScan, you can scan or take a photo of an image, import it into Silhouette Studio and add cut lines. This makes it possible to cut out handmade drawings, which is a distinct feature compared to other die cutters.
Silhouette Studio makes it easy to create original designs with drag-and-drop tools that help you move, resize and add texture to your images. If you don't want to make your own designs, you can purchase premade designs from the Silhouette Online Store, which has thousands. Each CAMEO comes with 50 designs to get you started.
This die-cut machine is average in terms of portability. There is some onboard tool storage but there's no handle, which makes it less convenient for travel. That doesn't mean you can't take it out of the house; you just need the right bag. The official CAMEO tote is available on the Silhouette website. With a flash drive, you don’t need to bring your computer along.
The Silhouette CAMEO is not designed well for cutting heavy-duty items. It is designed to cut drawing paper, vinyl, postcards, scrapbooking paper and photo paper. It can handle a few other materials but is geared primarily for cardstock – cardstock with up to a 90-pound rating to be exact. If you plan to branch out into other areas of crafting at some point, you may want to invest in a sturdier die-cutting machine.
The Silhouette CAMEO is not versatile in terms of its capabilities. It can cut well, but it is not designed to pierce, engrave or emboss. This is one of the few die-cutting machines we reviewed that can draw though, which opens up a range of possibilities in crafting.
We evaluated Silhouette's customer support. We spoke with helpful and friendly company representatives on the phone every time we called, and the website was helpful and well organized. The Silhouette site itself and related social media sites offer countless ideas for inspiration.
Although it is not our favorite die-cutting machine, the simplicity of the Silhouette CAMEO is appealing. It does not tackle a wide range of materials or tasks, including engraving, embossing, and piercing, but it gives you a wonderful outlet for most of your craft-cutting ideas. You can use the Silhouette CAMEO to make custom clothing, cards and more.