10 Things I Want You to Know about the Cricut Explore

I'm baaaccckkk!!! Tomorrow (3/13) on HSN I will make my debut as the new Cricut Explore on-air spokesperson! I am over the moon excited (and - I'll admit - a smidge nervous) and have spent the past two weeks getting a crash course on this fabulous new machine and all it can do.  I can't wait to show you!

I know so many of you have questions - I appreciate the feedback and suggestions you've shared on my Facebook Page and Instagram.  I plan to demo my little heart out on air - but I know I won't even begin to scratch the surface.  So I've compiled a top ten questions/things I think are cool/myth busting list that hopefully gives you some answers.  Please feel free to ask more questions here if you have them and I will get back to you each individually!

1.  How hard is it to set up the Explore?
It is as easy as 1...2...3.  Literally.  When you open the machine there is a sticker on the inside lid that walks you through the three-step process. Below are two videos - one for mac, one for PC - that will also walk you through the process if you have any questions (or if you want to take a look prior to buying to see for yourself)!

2.  I own a lot of cartridges.  Will I be able to use them with the Explore?
Yes! If your cartridges are already linked in Cricut Craft Room (CCR) they will automatically upload to the Design Space software when you set up your Explore.  If you have an older Cricut and have never linked your cartridges before (like me) it is VERY easy to link them.  There is a cartridge portal on the front left of the machine.  You simply insert the cartridge, click on "link cartridge" and the machine does the rest.  You will be able to find the images individually (by typing in heart, or butterfly, etc) and by cartridge name. After you link to Design Space you can still use your cartridges on your other machines and in CCR. Here is a video that shows you the process.

3. What fonts are available?  Can I use my own and do I have to pay to use them?
You can use any font on your computer!  You know - the kind you can download for FREE on the internet!  Once you download them to your system fonts on your computer they will automatically upload to Design Space - no manual adding each font! For those of us who are font junkies this is HUGE. In addition, if you have font cartridges you can link those to Design Space (see #2 above), and if you choose a subscription to Design Space you will also have access to 200+ Cricut fonts.

4. Can I used SVGs I've purchased/downloaded elsewhere?  Do I have to pay to use them?
Yes you can, and no you don't!  You can use any jpg, bmp, gif, svg, dxf and png files FOR FREE.  Cricut has provided two videos that show you how to upload various types of files - basic image upload and vector upload.

5. Do I have to have a subscription to use Explore?
Nope! The Design Space software is free with the machine.  You can use your own fonts, other SVGs, etc to your heart's content, and if you see an image you like in the Design Space library you can purchase them individually for .99 each.  If you want to try a subscription there are several available that range from $4.99 - $9.99 per month. Or subscribe for a year for additional savings!

6. What is the difference between this and the Silhouette?
These are the biggest differences I've discovered between the two machines.  Let me know if I've missed anything!

When you want to cut different materials on the Silhouette you have to replace the housing and make manual adjustments.  The Explore has a Smart Set Dial that has dozens of different materials already pre-set in the machine.  All you do is turn the dial!

The Explore software is free with the machine, and upgrades are free (and automatic).  No long wait times for downloads and no "upgrade" purchases required.

The Explore is internet based - all of your information is stored on a cloud.  This means you can have access from any computer and if (God forbid) your computer crashes - you don't lose anything!

On the Explore you can design/play with an image BEFORE you buy it (and decide if you like it).  You don't pay until you click "cut".  The Silhouette requires you to pay for the image before you are allowed to use it in the software.

You can cut your own SVGs on the Explore for free.  The Silhouette requires a $49.99 software purchase to cut your own SVGs.

The Explore has two clamps (one for the blade, one for a pen or scoring stylus) so you can draw & cut or scor & cut in one pass.  On the Silhouette you have to swap out the blade and pen if you want to use the draw & cut feature.

The basic yearly subscription for Silhouette is $113.89 and allows you to use/download 25 images per month (which comes out to about .38 per image).  The Explore yearly subscription is $99.99 and allows you unlimited access to over 25,000 images (which comes out to .004 per image).

On the Silhouette when you use layered images you have to ungroup the image, separate out the layers, then cut the different layers/colors separately. On the Explore the image layers are automatically divided by color and you can simply begin cutting.

7. The machine looks different.  Besides the software is the Explore different from the older Cricut machines? 
There are a few added "bells and whistles" that I love about this new machine! It is SO much quieter than the older machines, the Smart Set Dial (mentioned in #6) is so useful, there is storage in the lid for all of your tools and blades, there is a cup on the left of the machine for your pens, scoring stylus and tools, and the Explore is raised off the ground so you can fit your mats underneath.

8. What can I cut with the Explore?
What CAN'T you cut??  This is just a sampling of the materials you can cut.  Imagine the possibilities! (* needs stabilizer)
parchment
construction paper
canvas
foil
mulberry paper
vellum
washi tape
vinyl
transparency
chalkboard vinyl
burlap*
iron-on material
window cling
polyester
denim*
leather
cork board
chipboard
stencil material
glitter paper
duck tape
silk*
flocked paper
fabric*
poster board
felt
aluminum metal
magnet
craft foam
acetate
birch wood

9. I'm not very technologically savvy.  How hard is the software to learn? 
Don’t be afraid of the software!  I am not at ALL technologically savvy (so had the same concerns) - but from set up (the 1-2-3 I mentioned earlier) through the Make It Now projects through using your own fonts and more - I have found it very easy to use. There are also a TON of very helpful videos on the Cricut YouTube channel and if you want to talk to a real person the Customer Service team is AWESOME.

10. What is the difference between draw/write & cut, print & cut and print then cut?  Which of those things does the Explore do?

draw/write & cut
refers to a machine that allows you to draw/write and cut an image.  Explore not only has that ability - it can be done in one pass because there is a separate clamp for a pen.  You don't have to swap out the pen and the blade!

print & cut
refers to a machine that has a print head and a cutting blade so you can print out an image and cut it.  The Explore does not have this ability.

print then cut
refers to a machine that can "read" an image printed elsewhere (like a home printer) and then cut it using marks that the machine understands.  This will be available for the Explore in the second half of 2014.

I hope you guys will tune in tomorrow - so excited to start this journey with you and Cricut!