Cricut Explore Machines: Which Model Should You Get?

Cricut Explore Machines: Which Model Should You Get?

Maybe you have heard all the buzz about how great the Cricut Explore machine is. Maybe you have had the Expression or other machine in the past and aren’t sure what the big deal about the Explore is, or if it is even better.

If you aren’t sure if the Cricut Explore is right for you, or which version of the Explore family you should get, this is for you.

Cricut Explore Machines: What is the Difference?

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won't cost you anything extra)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

So….why is the Explore better than other machines anyway?

Let’s look at some of the features that all Explore machines have and how Cricut has stepped up their game from previous machines. This includes the original Cricut Explore, the Cricut Explore One, the Cricut Explore Air and the Cricut Explore Air 2.

  • Cut Smart Technology™ means that the Explore can cut from 1/4″ tall all the way up to 23 1/2″ tall and 11 1/2″ wide- all with amazing accuracy and precision.

  • It cuts over 6o different materials. While paper and vinyl will surely keep you busy, there are so many more options available. The Explore can cut foam, plastic, magnet, aluminum, chipboard and so much more.

  • Design Space™ is where all the action is. You can design anything you can imagine – or if you are stuck they have “Make It Now” projects pre-made for you too! It is cloud-based so if you design something in the app, it changes on the computer also.

  • Did I mention the app? Right now it is for IOS devices but android is in the works. It doesn’t have every single function that designing from the computer has but it is close! I love the ability to pull out my iPad or phone and design a little here or there when a few free minutes pop up.

  • Smart Set Dial allows you to quickly select the material you are cutting and have just the right pressure and blade depth. The days of manually guessing, I mean choosing, your settings are over. Custom settings is pretty cool too. If you have a material you cut and know just what works best you can save it so you can have that exact setting every time.

  • Print then Cut allows you to print an image on your printer and the have the Explore cut the shape out.

  • Upload your own fonts and images to Design Space. So, (in my humble opinion), this functionality is probably the single biggest reason Cricut has surged in popularity again. You can cut (or write) any of the fonts that you already have installed on your computer. (Which also means you will spend waaaay too much time browsing the internet for the coolest fonts, but I digress…) You can also use SVG files from non-Cricut designers. Finally. Just sayin’.

Now that you know why the Explore is the best cutting machine yet, how do you know which version is best for you?

Cricut Explore (the original)


The original Explore isn’t sold anymore through retailers, but I wanted to include it for any of you who may be looking to purchase a used machine from someone.

The original Explore has two heads- one for cutting and one for writing or scoring.

It is bluetooth compatible but you have to buy a bluetooth adapter separately.


Cricut Explore Air

The Explore Air has the two heads to cut and write/score at the same time but the Bluetooth adapter is built in. This version isn't generally sold in stores anymore since the Air 2 was released. It is still available for purchase on the Cricut website though.


Cricut Explore Air 2

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is just like the original Explore Air but it cuts two times as fast. If we were having coffee and you wanted to know what machine I would recommend, it would be this one. (Unless you sew or love that case I'd recommend the Maker. You can see it on the Cricut site here.)


Cricut Explore One

The Explore One is a more affordable option. It only has one head so if you want to cut and then write or score you have to take the blade out and insert the adapter and the pen or scoring tool.

The other difference is that the bluetooth is not built in. To connect to your Ipad or computer through Bluetooth you have to buy the adapter separately. Honestly, by the time you buy the adapter to go wireless you might as well have paid that money toward the Air 2 and then you will have the dual heads. 

Which Cricut Explore Machine is the best?

I would whole heartedly recommend the Explore Air 2 as the Explore to purchase. It is the fastest, connects through bluetooth and has the dual heads so you don't have to take the blade out if you want to use it for other things like writing or scoring. 

What about the Cricut Maker machine?

I have both an Explore and the Cricut Maker. I think the Maker is the best machine, but that doesn't mean it is for everyone. It's kinda like an Explore on steroids, lol. In addition to the regular blade, there is a rotary blade and a knife blade for thicker materials. If you like to sew, cut fabric or felt, or want to cut things like balsa wood then you should probably invest in the Maker instead. Don't plan on cutting fabric or thick materials? Stick with the Explore Air and put that extra money into some accessories for your machine instead.

No matter what machine you decide to get I'm sure you are going to love it! Cricut makes it possible to create so many things that weren't possible before. I can't wait to see what you create!

Sign Up for More Cricut Goodness


I won't send you any spam- pinkie promise! Powered by ConvertKit
How to Link Cricut Cartridges to Your Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker

How to Link Cricut Cartridges to Your Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker