Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Silhouette Cameo 3 Review and Recommendation

In the market for a new cutting machine and wondering which to choose? Or decided on Silhouette but not sure which model is best? While I don't have a Cricut or alternate brand to compare it to, after working with different versions the Silhouette Cameo over the last 3 years I feel confident recommending it and here's why.

The Pros

1. Value
Chances are if you are considering a Silhouette you are either looking for something to replace long, laborous tasks you were doing by hand, a newer tool that works better than what you currently have, or you want to try something new. The Silhouette Cameo has become an affordable option for all.

Let's say in the past you were cutting paper shapes or vinyl stickers with hand tools, tools costing $10 to $20 each. They needed replacing frequently due to dulling? For the same amount of money you once spent on 10-20 paper punches or cutting mats and blades, the Silhouette Cameo 3 has the technology to cut an infinite variety of shapes in any size up to 12 x 12 inches.

Still not convinced? When these machines first came out they were well over $300. With competition raging and so many variations out there, the cost has dropped drastically. They often come with extra tools or add-ons (bundles) like a heat transfer kit, vinyl starter kit or sketch pens, too.

If you don't need all the extras, I recommend this basic bundle on Amazon. Admittedly, I couldn't resist spending a little more to get the heat transfer kit.

Now I know, the earlier versions are cheaper, but you'll see in the next section why paying extra for the latest version is worth it.

2. Upgrades
I've spent countless hours working with early models of the Silhouette Cameo including the first version with button controls and the Silhouette 2 with the touch screen. While I didn't see much difference between the 2, #3 has some pretty significant upgrades:

  • Fully enclosed with cover down
  • Digital touch screen (also present in model 2)
  • Dual cutting tool cartridge 
  • Autoblade
  • Bluetooth capability
  • Compatibility with the latest software updates (glitches with earlier models)

I am in no way knowledgeable about software or technologically savvy, but I have had conversations (in tears) with support over the limitations and problems I've had with the earlier versions of the Silhouette. There's really no way for me to know if those problems were because the earlier machines and the latest software weren't compatible, or there were flaws in the early machinery that they've corrected. All I can say is that I don't have nearly as many problems with registration marks with the latest version. For this reason alone I will pay a little bit more for the most recent model.

Here's just one of many pictures I sent my poor husband when I had trouble with the Silhouette Cameo 2. Shortly after I took this, customer service informed me that registration marks this close to the edge of the page are not read easily by Silhouette Cameo 2. This was about the time I caved and bought the 3.

Regarding the other upgrades, truthfully, I hate the new autoblade. It takes forever to "adjust" before each cut.  I've reverted to using my regular old cutting blade which works perfectly fine with the new machine. I've also never used the bluetooth function or the dual cartridge features. I can see the advantages of having these features though and hope to test them in the near future.


For me there is just one.

The original Silhouette Cameo did a much better job of "searching" for the registration marks, to the point I could move the paper significantly and they'd still get found. This gave much more life to my mats and allowed me to be lazier with paper placement. This disappeared with the Silhouette 2 and did not return with the Silhouette 3.

You can see in this picture, I've done my best to perfectly align the corner of my page with the corner of the cutting area on the mat.

You can read more on mats here. (as well as some money saving tips).

No matter which machine you choose, you're sure to find some flaws. However, I doubt you'll find a better cutting tool out there. All 3 of mine have endured a good beating from 3 little boys, the shoving of small toys into every crevice, and hours of daily use for my Etsy shop.

Seriously, if you are still cutting paper shapes using squeeze or lever punches, don't wait another minute to make the switch. My hands were numb for months before my husband surprised me with this amazing paper crafting tool for Christmas.

Good luck with your new handy helper, you won't regret it!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I only blog about things I love.

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