You know I bought the new Cricut Explore as soon as it was available. I can’t help myself.  I will admit to disliking this machine when I first received it, but it has definitely grown on me over time. Its best feature is its precise cutting, much better than any of my older Cricuts. Its biggest drawbacks are the mediocre software that’s bundled with it and the fact that you must be online to use it. It does not work with just Cricut cartridges and it is not compatible with the Gypsy.

Cricut Design Space is free so you can go check it out even if you don’t have an Explore. I find it a bit slow with frequent glitches. It’s also missing some very basic features, like drawing tools, an offset feature, or alignment tools. It does have a very nice feature called “Sync.” This allows you to design without tearing apart the layers of an image. When you go to cut, the software divides all the layers onto cutting mats by color. This makes doing simple layouts and cards so easy.

With the Design Space software, Cricut has introduced a very competitive subscription program. For $9.99 a month, you can have access to the entire Cricut library minus licensed carts. You can head over here to find out exactly which carts are excluded. (This blogger also has a great Cricut cart handbook library and a very handy PDF for all Cricut fonts). That’s a wonderful deal for beginners or users with a small library of their own.

The biggest news, of course, is that this is a Cricut machine that allows you to import SVG and Jpeg files from anywhere and use your own fonts. I have had plenty of success using image files but less success with my own fonts. For some reason, I get a lot of errors and crashes when I try to use my own fonts. I have noticed that this seems to be getting better as time goes on, so I am either getting luckier in choosing my fonts or Cricut is making improvements.

The machine also does a bang up job writing. Here’s a video I made of the machine writing 16-pt text with a Pilot Precise Extra Fine pen. I have found about a dozen different brand pens that fit in the Explore and write beautifully, even at very small sizes. Also, notice the constant beeping. Although advertised by Cricut as a quiet machine, that is simply not the case. The machine beeps every time the blade is picked up and put back down again, so it beeps constantly.

Overall, I am very glad I bought the Cricut Explore and I have been using it a lot, which you will soon see.