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Cricut Explore Air 2 review

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a smooth and well-designed die cutting machine, but its software could be better.

cricut explore air 2
(Image: © Cricut)

Our Verdict

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is an accessible die cutting machine for beginners, and it can work with 100 material types for a myriad of projects.

For

  • 100 material options
  • Smart storage options
  • Lightweight
  • Looks great
  • Accessible for beginners
  • Free software available
  • Works with Bluetooth devices

Against

  • Needs Wi-Fi to work
  • You'll have to pay for premium design software access

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a neat machine that’s simple to use. It can cut just about anything you want, including vinyl, cardstock, and glittery paper, making it popular among even the most experienced crafters. We think the Cricut Explore Air 2 is one of the best die cutting machines you can buy thanks to its sleek and attractive design and huge range of options. Because it’s so easy to set up and use, we also think it would be a great choice for beginners. However, it’s not the cheapest die cutting machine you can buy, and you will need to pay extra to access Cricut Access software, so is the Cricut Explore Air 2 worth the money? 

Cricut Explore Air 2: What you need to know

cricut explore air 2

(Image credit: Cricut)

The Cricut Explore Air 2 comes in a huge range of colors, from muted mint to candy apple red. It definitely has one of the best looks we’ve seen on a die cutting machine, with a smooth plastic exterior that folds away neatly. When closed, the Cricut Explore Air 2 measures 24 inches long by 9.5 inches wide and tall. It weighs 14 pounds, so it’s similar in dimensions to some bulkier die cutting machines. 

The Explore Air 2 has several in-built storage spaces that make it easy to take this machine on the go. One such space is the cup located on the upper side to store tools, and you can also use the two accessory compartments on the front side of the machine. The smaller of the two houses your replacement blades with a magnetic strip, which keeps them safe and secure until you need them. 

This machine retails for $250 on the Cricut website, but if you want to buy a bundle deal with extra blades, a cutting mat, portable trimmer, transfer tape and other useful craft items, you could pay a lot more. This die cutter is a similar price to other machines that offer the same functions and range of features, so it’s not unreasonably priced, but you can find cheaper.

Cricut Explore Air 2: Features

cricut die cutting

(Image credit: Amazon)

One of the main things people look for in a die cutting machine is the number of materials it can work with. The Cricut Explore Air 2 brings that to an even 100, with settings for denim, cork, cardstock, vinyl, and many many more. You can select the right setting for you on the smart dial located on the top right side of the Explore Air 2. This lists the most popular settings: Paper, Vinyl, Iron-On, Light Cardstock, Cardstock, Bonded Fabric, Poster Board, and Custom. 

When using your Explore Air 2, you can opt for double speed in the Design Space software. This works twice as fast as the original Explore Air and works in double time to complete your projects. The Cricut Explore Air 2 comes with a cartridge port that can connect to your Cricut account, allowing you to access it via the machine on any device. 

This die cutting machine needs a Wi-Fi connection to work, and it can connect to laptops, tablets, and smartphones via the Design Space design software or app. You’ll need to plug in the machine using the included power adapter and then pair it with your phone or laptop using Bluetooth. Design space allows you to upload any file type for free, which means you can use external software to work with your own designs and fonts, and then upload them to your machine. 

If you do want access to Cricut’s bespoke fonts and other features you do need to pay extra, though. In some Cricut Explore Air 2 bundles, you can access these paid features on Cricut Access for a limited-time trial subscription. Based on this, you can decide whether it’s worth investing for yourself. If you do decide to pay for a subscription, it will cost you $10 a month. 

Cricut Explore Air 2: User reviews

cricut explore air 2

(Image credit: Cricut)

Feedback for the Cricut Explore Air 2 is largely positive, but there is one common complaint. We already explained that you will need to pay extra to access Cricut Access, which houses bespoke fonts and other smart features that will enhance your user experience with the Cricut Explore Air 2. You don’t need to use this, because Design Space offers some free access to those with other design software on their phone or laptop, but some users were disappointed to discover that they would need to pay $10 per month to do this in the Design Space app itself. 

Overall though, out of 15,000 Amazon reviews, the Cricut Explore Air 2 scores an average 4.8 stars out of five. That’s seriously impressive, and it’s a similar story at Walmart, where it’s rated at 4.6 stars.

Users report that “the machine cuts so quickly and precisely - it's a work of art just watching it in action.” Some highlight the learning curve that can come with using a die cutting machine for the first time, saying “it was a bit overwhelming at first but is super easy to use after a day or two.” Many mentioned that there are hundreds of useful YouTube videos to teach you everything you need to know about the Cricut Explore Air 2, so if you do buy this machine, there is plenty of online support from the crafting community. 

Should you buy the Cricut Explore Air 2? 

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a fantastic die cutting machine. It looks great, it’s accurate, and you can complete just about any project thanks to its 100 cutting modes. This would be a great machine for beginners because it is easy to use and can be controlled straight from your smartphone. While you don’t have to buy the Cricut Access software to use the Cricut Explore Air 2, it will make the whole process less intimidating to have complete control from one application. If you’re put off by the prospect of paying for the additional Design Space software, this may not be the device for you. However, it’s a great option if you’re not phased by this.