Easy-to-use smartphone app
Beautiful machine that doesn’t need to be hidden away
Fast mode for quicker cutting
Custom design software is cloud-based
More of a beginner machine
We purchased the Cricut Maker Machine so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
I have never seen a die-cutting machine firsthand before. I’ve witnessed other people work magic with these tools on reality crafting shows, but I’ve never had the opportunity to play around with one before. I’m a creative person and avid crafter, so the opportunity to review this machine interested me.
I’m not going to lie; I was intimidated from the moment I read that you’ll only get the most out of the machine if you hook it up to Cricut’s online design app. Any time I have to transfer files of any kind, I start to sweat a little bit. But, I wanted to explore this cutting machine's functions and determine whether or not it helped me design my projects. I’ll look at the setup, what it is like to use the machine, and the projects you can make with the Cricut Maker Machine.
Set-Up Process: Could not be easier
Setting up this Cricut machine could not have been easier. You establish a Bluetooth connection to sync and update the machine. I used my iPhone 8. First, I was directed to cricut.com/setup, where I was prompted to download the machine’s DesignSpace app. You’ll be asked to register the machine with your name and email. Then, you connect your smartphone or device with the Cricut machine via Bluetooth. Using this connection, your machine is updated, which I found especially simple and pain-free, given how complicated software updates can be.
Once the machine is updated, the app prompted me to start the practice project included with the Cricut Maker. The initial set-up was as close to straight-out-of-the-box use as you can get. Any intimidation I felt opening the package was instantly gone.
The only downside to the process is that you have to reconnect the Bluetooth connection every time you turn the machine on or off.
The machine looks nice. We got the lilac version, and I didn’t feel the need to hide it from sight.
Performance: Quick with very little guidance required
If you aren’t working on a custom project, then there isn’t much brainwork that goes into working on this device. The iPhone app stepped me through every single aspect of the practice project, which was a cute little greeting card. Despite having no idea what I was doing, my project came out perfectly. There is a bit of noise associated with the machine as it draws and cuts your materials, but it’s nothing the neighbors will call and complain about. The machine comes with two blades, a sharp knifepoint, and a rotary cutter for fabric, but you can purchase other special accessories for more advanced projects.
The machine worked quickly on the normal speed mode, and a fast mode kicks the device to work twice as fast. I stood over the machine and watched it—half in awe—not needing to do anything aside from click “continue” and push a button on the navigation. There’s a button for lining up the mat, and the "Go" button on the iPhone while in the app directs the machine to start drawing and cutting.
The only thing that made me anxious was placing the cardstock evenly on the light grip mat. The mat is sticky, and a crooked placement could mean a crooked card. You need to be precise in your set-up, and if you are, then you’re good to go.
Once you’re finished with your practice project, the biggest job you’ll have is making sure you have the correct materials or coming up with your own design if you’re feeling creative.
Features: More designs than you’ll know what to do with
The DesignSpace app and its software was my favorite feature. It has hundreds of project options—some are free, and others come with a low cost (most around 99 cents). Each project breaks down the necessary materials and any additional Cricut accessories you may need for the task at hand. You can also sort the projects by many categories: ready to make, accessories, cards, free, iron-on, and so on. DesignSpace is compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.
The machine connects to smart devices via Bluetooth, meaning you can work on custom designs on your phone or laptop and transfer them directly to the machine. You can also work with a ton of different materials, including cotton fabric, vinyl to cardstock, and balsa wood. The machine can cut through more than 300 materials up to 2.4mm thick.
If you’re a new Cricut customer, you get a free trial to Cricut Access, which has hundreds of patterns and designs. This resource is not to be confused with DesignSpace, the iCloud-based software that allows you to put together your own custom designs and projects. Think of Cricut Access as a super-user accessory.
Design: Simple as could be
The machine looks nice. We got the lilac version, and I didn’t feel the need to hide it from sight. It’s relatively compact: The buttons and inner mechanics are hidden by a colored top flap that later serves as the support for your smart device. Once opened, I used the lilac-hued slot to set up my iPhone, so I could follow the app’s directions in real-time as I created my project.
There are four buttons on the machine's right side: power, pause, go, and a double-arrow button that serves as the mat release. The app told me when to push the buttons, and it didn’t take long to catch on to their uses. There are also two small storage cups on the left side of the machine, perfect for the Cricut marking pen that came with the machine.
If your phone or iPad is running low on battery while you’re using the Cricut Maker, there’s a USB cord included in the package that can be used to charge the phone. When not in use, this machine could easily fit on a single shelf.
Price: Slightly higher than average
You can find a die-cutting machine for less, but if you work a lot from your phone and you want to design your own patterns and projects, the Cricut Maker Machine is perfect for you. The combination of free patterns and projects, easy storage, sleek look, simplistic instructions, and smart device display makes it a great option for first-time cutting machine users.
If you plan on purchasing a Cricut Access membership once the trial expires, you’ll want to add the $9.99 monthly subscription cost to your pro and con list.
Competition: Better than the rest
Like the Brother ScanNCut2 CM350e, most newer models of die-cutting machines offer some custom-design options, as well as a large variety of free patterns and designs to use. Unline the Brother machine; the Cricut Maker is sleeker and easier to use.
There are a few thoughtful design elements in Cricut Maker that put it above the others: the smart device rest on the top of the machine, the compact design that makes it easier to store or display, and the easy-to-navigate project app.
- Product Name Maker Machine
- Product Brand Cricut
- Price $349.00
- Weight 15 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 22.6 x 7.1 x 6.2 in.
- Color Lilac, champagne, mint, blue, rose
- Materials Plastic, metal
- What's Included Cricut Maker machine, rotary blade, premium fine-point blade, fine point pen, black FabricGrip™ machine mat, 12" x 12" LightGrip machine mat, 12" x 12" welcome book, USB cable, power adapter, free trial membership to Cricut Access, 50 free ready-to-make projects, including 25 sewing patterns, materials for a practice project
- Warranty One-year limited warranty