The Cricut Joy is a compact die cutting machine that is better used for smaller tasks. It has many of the features that we love in its big sister, the Cricut Explore Air 2 (opens in new tab), but unlike many of the best die cutting machines (opens in new tab), it's still budget-friendly. Cricut describes it as a companion product to its full-sized machines, but realistically you would never need both, so, should you buy the Cricut Joy, or splurge on a more expensive option?
Cricut Joy: What you need to know
The Cricut Joy is lightweight and compact, but its design doesn't skip out when it comes to looks. This machine combines bold blue and white on its smooth exterior, and it looks not dissimilar to a tiny compact printer (opens in new tab) when it's all folded away.
There are two reasons you'd buy the Cricut Joy over the Cricut Explore Air 2. The first is size - this machine is significantly smaller than pretty much any other die cutting machine you can buy. Its dimensions are 8.5 inches wide, 5.5 inches tall, and 4.25 inches deep. Weighing in at just 3.66 pounds, the Cricut Joy is designed to be easily taken on the go. If you're short on space or like to craft as you travel, that offers some real advantages.
The second reason you'd opt for the Joy over the Explore Air 2 is its price. With an RRP of $179, the Cricut Joy is around half the price of some full-size die cutting machines. It doesn't come with some of the in-built storage of larger machines, so you'll realistically need to buy a travel case to take your Joy on the go.
Cricut Joy: Main features
To open the Cricut Joy you simply pull out the front panel, which reveals the cutting mechanism and singular housing for the specialty miniature Cricut blade and pen. The Cricut Joy has a maximum material width of 5.5 inches, meaning you won't be able to complete large tasks on this machine. It can handle plenty of long projects thanks to its continuous cutout features, and specialty vinyl comes in up to 20 feet lengths, meaning you can cut continuously for seriously long projects. That said, the width will be an issue if you want to create poster-size items or even large cards. You can place folded cards (with the included Card Mat between the two sides) in here to create beautiful designs.
The Cricut Joy can handle 50 materials in total. These 50 materials include iron-on, cardstock, vinyl, paper, and specially designed Smart Materials for continuous cutting. You can either cut or write on any of these materials, but if you want to engrave or score you'll need to opt for something more expensive.
Most die cutting machines combine smartphone compatibility with in-built buttons, but the Cricut Joy doesn't come with so much as an "On" button. The exterior is entirely smooth and there's not even a USB port to connect it to your phone or laptop directly, so you'll need to select your mode on the Cricut app and control this machine remotely via Bluetooth. This isn't everyone's preference because Bluetooth connections can be less reliable than USB, but if you have a reliable Wi-Fi connection in your home it should work perfectly well.
To control your Cricut Joy you'll need to use the Cricut Design Studio app. This is free, but there's an emphasis on paid extras such as fonts and patterns to get the full experience. There are ways to get around this paid extra though. Because you can upload all sorts of file types from the app to your Cricut Joy, you can still use other free design software to find more fonts before uploading them, totally free.
Cricut Joy: User reviews
Users of the Cricut Joy will instantly find themselves in a thriving and active online community full of fellow crafters. Because of its smaller dimensions, the Cricut Joy is best loved for making cards and smaller stickers. Users rightly point out that this isn't the die cutting machine for larger tasks, and while its custom blade and pen make it all the more portable, many find it frustrating to have to re-order these specific products as opposed to a general die cutting blade and pen.
The main complaint among users of the Cricut Joy is that its lack of USB connection can be troublesome. One user commented that they would like the addition of a USB plug as the Bluetooth device "keeps disconnecting and reconnecting during projects" which can waste time and materials.
Should you buy the Cricut Joy?
The Cricut Joy is a seriously sweet die cutting machine. Not only is it incredibly compact and lightweight, it also removes the need for a cutting mat thanks to the bespoke Specialty Materials you can buy to go with it. It's limited by its 5.5-inch cutting width, but the open back of this machine means you can continuously cut for up to 20 feet.
This die cutting machine is best suited for those who want to make cards and stickers, or write in fancy fonts. You'll skip out on embossing or etching features with the Joy, because it only supports cutting or writing, but it does support 50 material types. Users report some issues with the Bluetooth connection on this machine, so it's a shame there's no USB backup option. You should also note that you don't get full Design Studio access with this purchase. You still get access to the app and can readily use the Cricut Joy without added access, but to make the most of the full range of fonts and illustrations you'll have to pay for a monthly app subscription.