This completely honest Cricut Explore Air 2 review will tell you how it works, what it does best, and why this cutting machine might NOT be the right one for you.
If you're looking for really thorough and honest Cricut Explore Air 2 machine reviews, or if you're wondering if it's worth your money, you're in the right place!
Today I'm sharing my first impressions and my full experience with my own machine, and you'll also find really valuable information from other Cricut reviews I found around the web.
A few weeks ago a tiny piece of my life changed.
I became a first-time owner of an electronic craft cutting machine. Not just any crafting cutting machine. I became the owner of a Cricut Explore Air 2, an amazingly fast and multi-featured cutting machine.
I also have more crafty cutting content! Do you need an introduction to cutting machines? Read: What is a Cricut machine and What Does it Do? If you're looking at other machines, you can also read my Cricut Joy review to see if it could be your new DIY best friend.
Personally, I was entirely new to the world of smart cutting machines. I've learned so much by using this machine and reading up over the past few weeks. So this Cricut Explore Air 2 review has a ton of information in it.
Keep reading and I promise you'll find everything you need to know to decide if you need one for yourself!
If you're asking yourself any of these questions:
What are the key features? How does it perform? Do I really need one of my own?
I was asking myself all of the same questions. Now I have the answers for everyone!
Buy the same machine I have:
I received a custom bundle with my machine and I'm so happy I did. It would be a bit frustrating to get an exciting machine like this one, and then have to go out and buy all the materials separately.
Plus, the bundles are a bargain! The sets that they sell on their own website offer far more products, tools and accessories than you'd get if you spend that money on your own supplies.
Check out the these bundles to save a lot on the machine plus the materials you'll definitely want after buying the machine.
I'm being 100% honest when I say I'm new to devices like this one. I had certainly heard of the this brand and other cutting machines in the past.
But the only thing I really knew was that they were related to crafting, because I had seen them in advertisements for Michaels and Joann.
I honestly didn't even know what it did until a reader asked me about Cricut Cricut deals and low prices.
When I did some research for her and finally got a good look at the brand. I was blown away over everything these machines could do!
A note on how the brand names their machines:
Before I get into the actual article, I know a lot of people are looking for the same information with various names, including:
Cricut Air Explore 2 reviews
Cricket Explore Air 2
Cricut Explore 2 reviews
Air 2 review
Cricut Air 2 reviews
Cricket Explore Air 2
I can assure you that all of these terms are referring to reviews for the same machine that I'm featuring in this article.
If you have questions about a specific model or if it just doesn't seem like the same one you're looking for, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to get you the details you need.
Now, let's move on to all the details and the actual review!
Cricut Explore Air 2 Review
I have to admit: I don't know if I'm worthy of this amazing machine!
I have a lot of learning ahead of me, but thankfully, I also got hooked up with all the supplies I need for more than a few projects.
What Comes with the machine?
Believe me, I felt more than a little spoiled after I opened the package with the cutting machine in it, then opened the second box with everything else sent so I could start using it!
In addition to the machine itself, here's a selection of other items I received:
- Basic Tools Set
- Cutting Mat Variety 3-Pack
- Portable Trimmer Tool
- Deep Cut Blade
- Explore Multi-Pen Set, Gold
- Explore Multi Point Pens, Black
- Scoring Stylus
- Premium German Carbide Replacement Blade
- Window Cling material
- Premium Outdoor Glossy Vinyl
- Brights Sampler, Vellum
- Printable Iron On, Blue Glitter
- Vinyl Sampler, Brights
- Dry Erase Vinyl
- Metallic Poster Board Sampler
- Faux Leather Pebbled Patina
- Washi Sheets in Anna's Pretty Prints
- Chalkboard Vinyl
I was feeling a bit overwhelmed while I was taking all that in. Then I opened the box that the machine came in to see everything that was inside.
I was so happy when the contents of the box were so simple and straightforward! Here's what comes with the standard Cricut Explore Air 2:
- The machine
- German carbide premium blade
- USB cord and power cord
- Cardstock sample
- 12×12 inch Standard Grip cutting mat
The blade, pen and card stock sample are exactly what you need to create your first project. I love that I could try it out without diving into any other materials!
Even though the it comes with a pen, card stock and blade, I still highly recommend a bundle like the Explore Air 2 Machine + Everything Bundle to ensure you have all the tools you need to start using your new device right away. It's a great starter set!
How it Looks
I received the mint green model – it's gorgeous! It's also shown below with the pale blue and pale pink designs.
Both are beautiful and I'd love to see these colors in person.
There are plenty of other different colors of this models, too. I'm a huge fan of the machine in Candy Apple Red. I think it's super fun and would look great in a craft room!
Here's a look at the machine from various angles:
It looks like the Cricut Explore Air 2 in Candy Apple Red is exclusively sold at Michaels. If it's in stock at your local store you can order it and pick it up today! If you need to order it online, it should ship for free.
You can the price on the Candy Apple Red machine at Michaels.com.
You can also check out the same model in black (I love that matte finish!) and in sky blue below:
It's also been available in GOLD. I'm drooling…but I'm not feeling too envious.
First, the gold one is identical to the one I have (aside from color). Second, it's not even available right now. There's no need to care about something I can't even have!
Here's what my own machine looked like once it was out of the box and hooked up:
I really wanted to get to know my cutting machine before using it, so I pushed the buttons, turned the dial and lifted the levers to take in all the physical features.
The control panel is on the outer right side of the cutter. The control panel has a power button and Smart Set Dial, plus the Load, Go and Pause buttons.
The outer left side has a small tool cup, cartridge port and the Open button.
Take a look inside. It's bright, shiny and surprisingly simple:
I love how clean and shiny all the mechanical components are in there!
If you take a closer look at the slider on the inside you can see it has two round compartments.
I had one little surprise when I was poking around and getting familiar with the buttons and dial. The front door lowers to open the machine, and it also doubles as a storage compartment!
It's not huge, but the built-in storage is perfect for stashing the essential tools you'll want to have right there when you're using it.
How it Works
I know this is the big question, especially for a paper crafting newbie: how does the it work?
The answer: I'm pretty sure its MAGIC.
As someone who's never been characterized as crafty or creative, I swear, my mouth was hanging open the first time I used it to create my first card.
My niece was with me, and we were practically squealing with delight as we watched it cut, write and score for the first time. Check out our Cricut Explore Air 2 video review below:
One thing I love about it is that it's fast. Granted, I don't have a different brand or model to compare it to, but I was really surprised that the blade and pen flew through the writing and cutting for the first card I made.
If that speed isn't fast enough for your project, there's actually a Fast Mode that can be used with the most popular materials.
You can get the same precise cuts at an even speedier rate on vinyl, iron-ons and card stock when you set the controls to Fast Mode!
Cutting and Using Different Materials
Something else that surprised me when I was learning all about the product is all the different materials that it can cut.
The Smart Set Dial lets you choose the material you're working with , and it's used to indicate the thickness of the material you're going to be cutting.
Poster board is the thickest material you can select on the dial, but I couldn't stop wondering What's the thickest material a Cricut can cut?
I'm fairly certain the thickest material it can cut is wood in the form of chipboard or birch wood. That's right. This cutting machine can cut wood!
I learned about this and over 100 other materials the Cricut Explore Air 2 can cut on this official page. Other surprising items that can be cut include:
- Tissue paper
Knowing that all of those things and more can be cut with my very own cutting machine opens up even more possibilities for potential projects!
Part of setting up my new machine included installing the Design Space software so I could connect it to my computer.
I installed Design Space it on my Macbook, and there's the same program for Windows.
The software cost is free. There's no charge to use it on your computer or on either of the apps.
If you live a mobile life you can also use one of the Design Space apps, which are available for Apple (iOS) and Android devices. The apps are compatible with both phones and tablets, so there are plenty of options for getting the program in front of you.
Once Design Space is installed you have everything you need to create anything you need for your most crafty projects.
I've found Design Space very easy to use. It's sort of like a user-friendly Photoshop (people take classes to learn Photoshop!). Design Space allows you to search through thousands of designs and load the one you'd like to make.
While the software itself is free, most of the Design Space projects cost money (starting at $0.99). There are two ways figure out how you should pay for these projects:
- If you think you'll only pay for designs once or twice a month and you have great fonts on your computer, then you can pay for your designs as you need them.
- If you find yourself making more than 2 or 3 projects in a month Cricut Access will be well worth the monthly cost of $7.99. This membership lets you use over 370 fonts and 30,000 images, including exclusive images.
How to Use Your Machine Without Paying for Cricut Access
Before I tell you how to use your machine without paying for Access I have to say one thing:
Access is super awesome. It's extra user-friendly. It also makes using your cutting machine as easy as possible.
That being said, if you consider yourself a quick learner and you're open to learning new technology, then you'll love learning how to use your new piece of technology without paying for the subscription.
First, Design Space offers lots of free cuts straight from the brand. They can change at any time, but you just need to look for Free in the drop down categories within Design Space to find them.
You can use all the fonts that are already on your computer (and you can install beautiful free fonts from Creative Market and Pixel Buddha. The selections change every week, so check back weekly!).
In addition to fonts, you'll also need images to use in Design Space. You need to use SVG images (not jpg or png).
There are plenty of places online that offer free SVG downloads and Creative Market also offers free SVG graphics that change every week – just like their fonts!
It's hard for me to not rave about the Cricut Explore Air 2. I said it before – it actually seems magical when I'm watching it work!
But I've identified a few downsides as I've been using it. Here's what I'd like to see changed:
- The Design Space App for Android needs improvement. To their credit, the app is in beta. On the other hand, the iOS app has been available since 2015. They needs to get the Android app perfected and released as a solid piece of software.
- I didn't know the rollers would feed the cutting mat out the back of the machine as it was working. Duh. I foolishly set it up against a wall. The crunching and crinkling freaked me out a bit, but I can't complain; nothing was broken or ruined when it happened.
- Bluetooth: I was only prompted to connect my machine to my computer via USB, but I wish I would have been prompted to connect via Bluetooth. Now, I haven't figured out how to do it manually. It's not necessary, but I also can't review the Bluetooth connection process.
Update: I've since been able to connect without issues. The connection takes about a minute, but it works flawlessly once it's ready to go.
- Access: It simply bothers me that, after spending $250, users still need to pay for a monthly membership. I do appreciate the free designs, but I don't love that there's an ongoing cost to use most of the brand's own library.
Why you might not want the Cricut Explore Air 2
Make no mistake, the Explore Air 2 is fantastic – it's no secret that I love it, and I want to tell everyone how amazing it is. But there are definitely reasons to choose one of the other two machines over the Explore Air 2.
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you're asking, Which Cricut Should I Buy?
Get the Cricut Explore Air 2 instead of the Maker or Joy if:
- You work mostly with vinyl, cardstock and other common craft materials.
- You're a hobby crafter who wants to make more, different or better creations.
- You're a beginning crafter but you know most of your projects will require a full-width cutting mat.
- You have an older Cricut machine and you're ready for a mid-range upgrade.
- You have Cricut cartridges you want to use in a newer Cricut.
- You want to show your personality by choosing your machine in the widest variety of colors.
Get the Cricut Maker instead of the Explore Air 2 if:
- You're a professional crafter OR you're already selling a good amount of your crafts.
- You need to cut thick materials like leather and wood.
- You're looking to cut fabric for sewing projects.
- You need additional design capabilities, like engraving, debossing and decorative effects.
- You want the newest Cricut machine with the most cutting capabilities.
- You're up for spending $400 on your cutting machine.
Get the Cricut Joy instead of the Explore Air 2 if:
- You're new to crafting and DIY projects OR you're dipping your toe into the world of vinyl and papercrafting.
- You live in a smaller space with limited available tabletop and/or storage areas.
- Portability is important and you want to create on-the-go.
- You're a last-minute maker, looking to combine the creativity of homemade projects with a speedy little machine and ready-to-make projects.
- You're not ready to spend $200+ on a crafting cutting machine.
Other Cricut Explore Air 2 Reviews
If you're seriously considering buying one (and you should!) you probably want to read more than just my opinion. So I found more for you!
I checked out the customer reviews at Joann.com and they're overwhelmingly positive! Here's the summary:
As you can see, there are NO negative Cricut Explore Air 2 reviews on that site. Here are highlights from some of the most descriptive reviews:
I bought this 3 days ago and am obsessed! I am going to buy more supplies right now to keep going because there is literally NOTHING you can't do with this! It's totally worth every penny! The list of people who want to come over and check it out is crazy!
I had previously used the Expression and let me just say… This has been a major upgrade. I am challenged when it comes to crafting and this breaks things down for me in great detail. Also, I don't get much free time to do projects so the fact that this machine is SPEEDY gives it five stars.
I had never used a one before and now that I have I can't figure out what took me so long! It functions beautifully right out of the box, the app has so many great designs and is so easy to use that I spent hours making all kinds of things, from iron ons (my favorite) to cards and banners.
I have been impressed with the quality of the materials and the device itself. I have access to a laser cutter but I would honestly prefer to use this because it is so user friendly.
–Nicolle, First Time User
That's just a sample of the Cricut Explore Air 2 machine reviews from one craft supply site. After all that, you also have my personal opinion to go on.
While I really do wish the negatives I listed would be changed, it's pretty obvious that the three things I don't love aren't deal-breakers at all.
I no longer have to wonder what can a cutting machine do…Now I can't wait to make projects like all of those in that picture!
I never thought I would be capable of doing crafts like that. Now I'm able to do so much more than I ever thought possible!
In summary, if you're wondering, Is the Cricut Explore Air 2 worth it? or Should I buy one? My answer is Yes. Definitely yes!
Want to start crafting with me? Buy an Explore Air 2 and show me what you're going to make!
This review was written with thanks to the brand, who sent me the products to facilitate this post.
If you're waiting for a deal on a cutting machine, accessories or other products, you'll want to pay attention during the Christmas season, including Black Friday (and pre-Black Friday), Cyber Monday and Cyber Week!