Pros / The Cricut Expression's 12 x 24-inch cutting mat fits large projects.
Cons / Cricut cartridges are required for all cutting.
Verdict / The Expression's ease of use may make up for its design limitations for some people.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
With its outdated look, feel and features, the Cricut Expression die cutting machine needed a makeover. It got just that in the form of the Cricut Expression 2, but this die cutter is still old fashioned at heart and has a reputation for malfunctioning.
Consider the Cricut Expression 2 if you prefer simple operation without the clutter high tech features can bring. The latest incarnation of the Expression is fit for someone who is not interested in learning new software – everything can be done using the machine's touchscreen and stylus. There is no need to interact with your computer in any way, which adds to portability and appeals to non-tech types.
This Cricut machine has some nice creature comforts – a light over the cutting area, a full-color touchscreen and a couple of included cartridges that make getting started a breeze. The Expression has always been able to cut a relatively wide range of materials, including cardstock, chipboard, sheet magnet, foam, felt, balsa wood, vellum, cling vinyl, fabric and others.
You can still use this die cutter with your computer, but interaction is limited to the Cricut DesignStudio software. Even with the program, you still need a cartridge to cut anything using this machine. This limits what you can customize, but cartridges offer a fair amount of variety. It is quite possible that you are not the type of person who wants to spend hours designing your own birthday cake graphic, especially when there are hundreds and hundreds of cute ones all ready to go.
The Expression does offer ways to manipulate the images from cartridges you own. It's not even close to the freedom you get with other die cutting systems, but it gives you some. You can weld fonts, for instance, and blend images from multiple cartridges together for something unique. The flip feature allows you to reverse the orientation of any image, resize and slant your cartridges' images easily.
With the auto fill feature, the die cutting system automatically arranges as many of a given pattern as possible onto a page for cutting, saving you materials. With the Expression's large mat, which measures 12 x 24 inches, you can get some big shapes. That makes it a great option if you want a vinyl-cutting machine because it creates big letters for your walls.
This die cutting machine for scrapbooking is weak on capabilities. It cuts and draws and does both really well, but we definitely prefer units that allow for piercing, engraving and embossing. Cricut customer service options are all pretty good. The website is easy to navigate, and the representatives pick up the phone quickly and give great service, though you are not likely get that same quality of service via email. Cricut has message boards, newsletters, and tips and tricks available online. You can also find a fair number of die cutting project ideas.
This die cutting system cuts a wide variety of materials and offer hours and hours of crafting enjoyment. Being tied to cartridges rather than a computer system is a drawback overall, but it does make the Cricut Expression very easy to use. That may be the main selling point for many people in the market for a die cutting machine.