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If you’re wondering what the best Silhouette machine is, wonder no longer.
As avid Silhouette fans, we’ve owned and loved all of the cutting company’s machines and feel like we’re in a good position to show you the differences and similarities, and advise on which machines are best for different kinds of crafters.
If you want to know who wins out in the battle of Silhouette Curio vs Cameo, which machine is best for sticker makers, and how the best Silhouette machine measures up against its Cricut rival, this is the guide for you.
Strap in, it’s time to go on a Silhouette journey…
The Best Silhouette Cutters
Firstly, let’s get a look at all the individual machines on offer before we compare them.
If you’re looking for a Silhouette die cutter, you’ll be choosing between three options:
Let’s take a look…
Silhouette Studio Software
The major feature that all three Silhouette machines have in common is the software they use: Silhouette Studio.
Critics are split on the merits of Silhouette Studio.
Some say that it has a steep learning curve that requires beginners spend a couple days getting to grips with, while others claim that it’s great for more advanced users and allows the user a lot of creative control.
We agree with both camps: once you’ve practised a fair amount with Silhouette Studio, you’ll find it great. There’s a lot of functionality and lots of opportunities to try out new things and be creative.
Although Cricut Design Space is arguably much easier to get to grips with for beginners than Studio, it doesn’t offer a huge amount of potential from there. It’s a bit of a let down.
Thankfully, there is a compromise — it’s just not here yet.
The cutting community has been awaiting Silhouette Studio 4.0 for what feels like months now. It promises a much easier learning curve and a boat load of tutorials and step-by-step guides that are sure to be invaluable for beginners.
You’ll also have access to the design store when you buy a Silhouette die cutter, which will give you access to a plethora of truly great designs. You can download these individually or in packs for a small fee, or sign up for a monthly subscription for $9.99.
Silhouette Machines Compared
Can’t decide which Silhouette cutter is right for you?
Here we run through the basic differences of each machine, and who should buy which…
Silhouette Curio vs Cameo
If you’re wondering whether to get the Curio or Cameo, then you just need to answer one easy question to find out your answer.
Do you need to use the emboss, deboss, stipple and etch features?
If your answer is “yes”, then the Curio is the Silhouette die cutter for you. This is the only machine that can access the emboss, deboss, stipple and etch features in the Silhouette Studio software.
It can also handle and cut thicker materials than the Cameo: it has a 5mm clearance and 2mm maximum cutting thickness, whereas the Cameo only has a 3mm clearance (up from 2mm on the Cameo 3).
The Cameo 3, on the other hand, is much more of an all-round cutting machine.
It’s superior to the Curio in terms of:
- Cutting size
- Bluetooth connectivity (the Curio doesn’t have this)
- It has an AutoBlade that allows you to automatically adjust the material settings
If you’re thinking to yourself that, actually, you want the best of both worlds — an all-round machine that also has the capacity to emboss, deboss, etch and stipple — then you will need to buy them both.
After all, the Curio is supposed to be a companion to the Cameo!
Silhouette Cameo vs Portrait
OK, now you’ve decided whether you want a Curio or Cameo (or both!), you might want to think about whether the Cameo or Portrait is the right Silhouette die cutter for you.
Again, this can be answered in one easy question:
What’s more important: machine quality or a low price?
If you’re looking for a high quality machine that can serve all of your hobbyist needs, then it’s a no brainer: the Silhouette Cameo is the machine for you.
But, if you’re a beginner craft cutter or constrained by a budget, the Silhouette Portrait will be better.
Essentially, the Portrait has most of the functionality of the Cameo, just in a smaller and more basic body.
The cutting size is smaller, it doesn’t work as quickly and is better suited to small and simple designs.
For your everyday card and sticker makers, the Portrait will be perfect. And you can’t beat that price!
The Cameo, on the other hand, offers a larger cutting area, faster and more precise cuts and more sophisticated functionality.
It’s a great machine for hobbyists who like to work on a variety of different projects, big and small.
You’ve got more freedom with the Cameo. But more cash back with the Portrait.
Silhouette Portrait vs Curio
The final Silhouette cutter machines to compare against each other are the Portrait and the Curio.
We know how they stack up against the Cameo, but how do they fare against each other?
Again, which machine will be best suited to your needs can be summed up in your answer to this one question:
Are you a beginner cutter or an experimental one?
If you’re a beginner, the Portrait is definitely the Silhouette die cutter to go for. As we mentioned already, it’s easy to use and low cost.
There’s a steeper learning curve on the Curio; and you’ll definitely be able to gel with it better if you’ve got experience with Silhouette machines already.
While the Curio allows you to explore many more avenues in terms of materials and features, we think it might be a little too specialist for beginner crafters.
After all that comparison, you might be wondering which is the objective best machine out of the Cameo, Curio and Portrait.
Although we see the merits in all of them, in our mind there’s really no contest…
It wins out in terms of precision, cutting space and just being the most capable machine right off the bat — there’s no need to buy lots of extra accessories like you need to do with the Curio.
Sure, some people will value the price point of the Portrait and the functionality of the Curio, but in terms of objective quality, it’s hard to argue with the Cameo 4’s popularity.
Silhouette Cameo 4 vs Cricut Maker
If you’re thinking of venturing outside of the Silhouette family, chances are that you’re considering the winner of the battle of the best Silhouette machine vs Cricut.
Fear not, we’ve already done an in-depth post on the differences between the Cameo 4 and the Cricut Maker that should help bring you to a decision.
Ultimately though, both machines are pretty fantastic, especially considering their wallet-friendly prices!
Do you agree that the Cameo 4 is the best Silhouette machine?
Would you choose the Curio or Cameo?