PROS / The Curio has the same flexibility of much larger, more expensive machines: You can work with a range of materials.
CONS / This die-cutter has a very small capacity.
VERDICT / While the Silhouette Curio performs a variety of functions and the software is easy to learn, the lightweight cutting force and small capacity make some projects impossible.
The Silhouette Curio is a lighter-duty electronic cutting machine with the capacity to work with most common materials performing a variety of different tasks. The cutting force is a modest 210 grams, but it can also weld, draw, pierce, emboss, engrave and deboss.
The Curio works well as a standalone machine for many projects, and for some crafters, this die-cutting machine may be sufficient by itself. The Curio is marketed as a companion machine to other cutters, giving users additional features like piercing, embossing and engraving, and it allows you to work with a greater range of materials, like wood, leather, rubber and foam.
The Curio requires a computer, and it comes with software to get you started: Silhouette Studio. This means you can avoid cartridges altogether and create or download your own designs. Silhouette Studio has a familiar workflow if you've used common photo-editing or image-processing software, but it's quite intuitive if you're new to die cutting. Once we installed the software, we were able to get started cutting and embossing within minutes.
The Curio has a larger clearance for material than many die-cutting machines, allowing for materials like foam, metal, wood and leather to pass under the carriage. This also means that thinner materials like paper and vinyl will need to be raised to meet the blade. Curio has a series of platforms that stack together to reach a specific height based on the material you're using. Until you master which materials require which setting, Silhouette includes a handy quick reference chart specifying the blade depth and base for each type of material.
In our tests the Curio managed all of the materials we tested, including more than what many of the expensive machines on our lineup could handle. The biggest drawback was the width of material that can fit in the machine. Most die-cutting machines could fit at least 12-inch sheets of material, and many could do rolls of vinyl or other material up to several feet long. The Curio appears, though, to be better suited for smaller projects, as the base can hold only materials measuring 8.5 inches wide by 12 inches long.
Silhouette’s customer service was easy to contact. Representatives were helpful and friendly, and the Silhouette website was easy to navigate and packed with helpful information. Silhouette has a large user community, so we were able to find a huge cache of user-made videos online to walk you through projects and setup.
The Curio's software is easy to learn and use, but it lacks the freedom and convenience of die cutters that can cut untethered from a computer. The base is the smallest among those we tested, so large projects can be tedious on the Curio. You do have a lot of flexibility on the type of material you can work with, and you aren’t limited to just cutting. The Curio would be a great companion to larger die-cutting machines that are lacking other options, such as embossing, debossing, etching, scoring, stippling and drawing.