Keep reading for my Cricut Explore Air 2 review!
A few weeks ago a tiny piece of my life changed. I became a first-time owner of a Cricut. Not just any crafting cutting machine. I became the owner of a Cricut Explore Air 2, the newest and fastest cutting machine available on the market.
I'm entirely new to the world of smart cutting machines, so my 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 a Cricut!
If you're asking yourself any of these questions: What are the key features of the Cricut Explore Air 2? or How does the new Cricut perform? or Do I really need a Cricut Explore Air 2? I was asking myself all of the same questions. Now I have the answers for everyone!
Buy the Cricut Explore Air 2 machine:
I received a custom bundle with my Cricut Explore Air 2 and I'm so happy I did. It would be a bit frustrating to get an exciting machine like a Cricut and then have to go out and buy all the materials separately.
Plus, the bundles are a bargain! The sets that Cricut has put together gives you way more products, tools and accessories than you'd get if you spend that money on your own supplies.
Check out the bundles to save a lot on the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the materials you'll definitely want after buying the machine:
I'm being 100% honest when I say I'm new to machines like the Cricut. I had heard of the Cricut brand in the past, but I didn't even know what it did until a reader asked me about Cricut Explore Air 2 Cyber Monday prices. I wrote that post for her and I was amazed at everything the machine could do!
Cricut Explore Air 2 Review
Now that I have a Cricut Explore Air 2 of my own I have to admit: I don't know if I'm worthy of it! I have a lot of learning ahead of me, but thankfully, Cricut hooked me up with all the supplies I need for more than a few projects.
Cricut Explore Air 2: What's in the Box
Believe me, I felt more than a little spoiled after I opened the package with the Cricut Explore Air 2 in it, then opened the second box with everything else sent so I could start using the machine!
In addition to the Cricut Explore air 2, here's a selection of other items I received:
- Basic Cricut Tools Set
- Cricut Cutting Mat Variety 3-Pack
- Cricut Portable Trimmer Tool
- Deep Cut Blade
- Cricut Explore Multi-Pen Set, Gold
- Explore Multi Point Pens for Cricut, Black
- Cricut's Scoring Stylus
- Premium German Carbide Replacement Blade
- Window Cling material for Cricut
- Premium Outdoor Glossy Vinyl
- Brights Sampler, Cricut Vellum
- Cricut Printable Iron On, Blue Glitter
- Cricut Vinyl Sampler, Brights
- Dry Erase Vinyl for Cricut
- Metallic Cricut Poster Board Sampler
- Faux Leather Cricut Pebbled Patina
- Cricut Washi Sheets in Anna's Pretty Prints
- Cricut Chalkboard Vinyl
I was feeling a bit overwhelmed while I was taking all that in. Then I opened the box for just the Cricut Explore Air 2 machine 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 Cricut Explore Air 2 machine
- German carbide premium blade
- USB cord and power cord
- Cricut pen
- Cardstock sample
- Cricut 12×12 inch Standard Grip cutting mat
The blade, pen and cardstock sample are exactly what you need to create your first Cricut project. I love that I could try it out without diving into any other materials!
Even though the machine comes with a pen, cardstock and blade, I still highly recommend a bundle like the Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine + Everything Starter Set to ensure you have all the tools you need to start using your new Cricut right away.
Cricut Explore Air 2 Review: How it Looks
I received the mint green model of the Cricut Explore Air 2 – it's gorgeous! It's also been shown in pale blue and pale pink, but those aren't available right now. Still, both are beautiful and I'd love to see the other colors in person.
This Cricut has also been available in GOLD. I'm drooling…but I'm not feeling too envious.
First, the Gold Cricut Explore Air 2 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 Cricut Explore Air 2 looked like once it was out of the box and hooked up:
I really wanted to get to know my Cricut before using it, so I pushed the buttons and lifted the levers to take in all the Cricut Explore Air 2's physical features.
The control panel is on the outer right side of the machine. 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, Cricut cartridge port and the Open button.
Take a look inside the Cricut Explore Air 2. 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 the machine. The front door that lowers to open the machine doubles as a storage compartment!
It's not huge, but it's perfect for stashing the essential tools you'll want to have right there when you're using your Cricut.
Cricut Explore Air 2 Review: How it Works
I know this is the big question, especially for a papercrafting newbie: how does the Cricut Explore Air 2 work?
The answer: I'm pretty sure the Cricut Explore Air 2 is MAGIC.
As someone who's never been characterized as crafty or creative, I swear, my mouth was hanging open the first time I used the Cricut 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 the Cricut Explore Air 2 is that it's fast. Granted, I don't have a different machine to compare it to but I was really surprised that the machine 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 from your Cricut at an even speedier rate on vinyl, iron-ons and cardstock when you set the machine to Fast Mode!
Cutting with the Cricut Explore Air 2
Something else that surprised me when I was learning all about the machine is all the different materials that can be cut with the Cricut Explore Air 2.
The Smart Set Dial lets you choose what you're running through the Cricut, 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 Cricut can cut?
I'm fairly certain the thickest material a Cricut can cut is wood in the form of chipboard or birch wood. That's right. The Cricut Explore Air 2 can cut wood!
- Tissue paper
Knowing that all of those things and more can be cut with my Cricut opens up even more possibilities for potential projects!
Designs and Designing with the Cricut Explore Air 2
Part of setting up my new Cricut Explore Air 2 included installing Cricut Design Space software. I installed it on my Macbook, and there's the same program for Windows.
If you live a mobile life you can also use one of the Cricut 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 Cricut program in front of you.
Once Cricut Design Space is installed you have everything you need to create anything you need for your most crafty projects.
I've found Cricut Design Space very easy to use. It's sort of like a user-friendly Photoshop (people take classes to learn Photoshop!). Cricut 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 Cricut 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 Cricut images, including exclusive images.
How to Use the Cricut Explore Air 2 Without Paying for Cricut Access
Before I tell you how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2 without paying for Cricut Access I have to say one thing:
Cricut Access is awesome, it's user-friendly and it makes using your Cricut Explore Air 2 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 the Cricut without paying for the subscription.
First, Design Space offers lots of free cuts straight from Cricut. 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.
In addition to fonts, you'll also need images to use in Cricut 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!
Cricut Explore Air 2 Review: The Negatives
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 there are definitely a few downsides to using Cricut Explore Air 2. Here's what I'd like to see changed:
- The Cricut 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. Cricut needs to get the Android app perfected and released as a solid piece of software.
- I didn't know the Cricut would feed the cutting mat out the back of the machine as it was working and I 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 Cricut 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.
- Cricut Access: It simply bothers me that, after spending $250 on a Cricut users still need to pay for Cricut Access. I do appreciate the free designs, but I don't love that there's an ongoing cost to use most of Cricut's library.
Other Cricut Explore Air 2 Reviews
If you're seriously considering buying one (and you should!) you probably want to read more than my review. Here are some other reviews for Cricut Explore Air 2 I found around the web.
I checked out the Cricut Explore Air 2 reviews at Joann.com and they're overwhelmingly positive! Here's the Cricut Air 2 review summary:
As you can see, there are NO negative reviews of the Cricut Explore Air 2 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 Cricut 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.
–Cricut Critter Casey
I had never used a Cricut before and now that I have I can't figure out what took me so long! The machine 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 machine itself. I have access to a laser cutter but I would honestly prefer to use the Cricut because it is so user friendly.
–Nicolle, First Time Cricut User
That's just a sample of the reviews for Cricut Explore Air 2. After all that, you also have my personal opinion to go on. Want to know if the Cricut Explore Air 2 is worth it? Read my conclusion below.
Cricut Explore Air 2 Review: The Conclusion
While I really do wish the negatives I listed in my Cricut Explore Air 2 review would be changed, it's pretty obvious that the three things I don't love aren't deal-breakers at all.
After all, 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. Thanks to the Cricut Explore Air 2 I'm able to do so much more than I ever thought possible!
Want to start crafting with me? Buy a Cricut Explore Air 2 and show me what you're going to make!
This Cricut Explore 2 review was written with thanks to Cricut, who sent me a machine to facilitate this post.