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Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Cricut Explore machine from ProvoCraft

ProvoCraft (PC) has released a new Cricut machine - the Cricut Explore.  This is big news.  Why?  For one thing, PC hasn't released anything new in quite a while, and for another this new machine is very different from the machines of the past.  To go with this new machine, PC is also releasing a brand new software - Cricut Design Space.

This new machine is designed for out-of-the-box usage.  The design makes it much simpler for the user.  With the previous machines, excluding the Expression 2, the machines required a keypad overlay and user configured settings.  This was confusing to some users.  Then Design Studio and the Gypsy were introduced, removing the need for the keypad overlay.  The Expression 2 also did not need the overlay.  Design Studio and the Gypsy have both been discontinued and the Cricut Craft Room (CCR)was introduced to replace them.  The CCR program is an internet-based program designed to streamline the cutting process, and is usable for the previous machines - the Legacy Machines.  

With each new program or machine, PC has been making further technological steps.  They may not have always led the industry, especially of late, but they have had very interesting ideas.

Enter new leadership at PC: Ashish Arora.  If you do some research you will find that he is very tech-savvy.  As such, it appears that he is bringing PC up-to-date in the industry with this new machine.  The new machine is comparable to other cutting machines out there in many ways.  However, until I have a chance to demo the machine I can not give a full comparison. 

The most interesting thing about the new machine is how it is different.  This machine isn't designed for the previous and current customer base to build upon the past machines.  This machine is for a whole new playing field.  It is designed with the DIYer in mind.  The user who wants to create, and to do it quickly without having to hunt for cartridges, figure out the keypad, or wonder about the cut settings.

The machine is more intuitive in that the Smart Set Dial allows for easy selection of the material used.  Combine this with the NEW software - yes, I did say new! - and the machine will make crafting with a cutting machine simpler and possibly faster.  PC has taken what appears to be a huge step with this machine. Everything about it is different, from the materials - German carbide - to the new software - Cricut Design Space - to the precision - Cut Smart technology allowing for excellent cuts as small as 1/4 inch!  
Other features: It will also allow users to access and cut through the ipad via a new app that will be released in Q2 of 2014.  There is a port which will allow you to link any cartridges you have to your account so that they can be used with the new software, and you can buy images from the PC Image Library, or you can subscribe to the library for $9.99/month or $99.99/ year.  The really big news is that it will cut almost any file!!  .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .svg, .dxf - all of these can be uploaded for use.
However, possibly my favorite new design on this machine is the dual head, allowing the user to draw and cut or score and cut at the same time.
This is an amazing idea.  Why? Because previously you had to change out the blade and pens or score tool and in doing so it was easy to nudge the mat out of alignment, ruining the project and costing the user in time and supplies.

There are so many Pros to this new machine, but there are some Cons as well.  For one thing, it is not compatible with CCR or the Gypsy.  It requires that the new software, Cricut Design Space, be used in order to operate the machine.  The new software requires internet access for usage.
In addition, there is currently a question of if the .svg and .dxf files can be cut for free or if you must pay a fee or get the subscription.

However, for the new user, the younger generation, the DIYer, and the user with little time to mess with "stuff", this machine is sure to be a great tool!

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