Cricut Expression 2 Review

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The Cricut Expression 2 (available to buy on Amazon) is an old machine, but we get so many questions about it that we decided it was worth a review anyway.

While Cricut may not be selling it directly any more – preferring to focus on their jazzy Cricut Maker 3 (review here) – it’s still a popular machine and remains a go-to cutter for many crafters.

In our view, the Expression 2 can’t compete with the latest line of Explore machines from Cricut, but it’s definitely got some great selling points regardless.

Before we get stuck in to this Cricut Expression 2 review, let’s address a few points about availability.

Being an older model, the Expression has been discontinued from the official Cricut store and there are only limited stocks available on Amazon.

From our experience, the best place to pick up the machine in 2021 is on eBay where it can be snapped up for under $100. That’s a cracking deal for those on a budget.

Check here for availability:

Cricut Expression 2 (Limited Availability)
  • 12 in x 24 in cutting capability
  • Compatible with all cricut cartridges – including cricut imagine cartridges. (cricut imagine cartridges will just cut images, not print images or patterns.)
  • Larger, faster, full color lcd touch screen display with stylus. no keypad overlay required
  • Cartridge content pre loaded on the machine

Cricut Expression 2 Review

Cricut Expression 2 review

What Are The Basic Features?

  • LCD full color touchscreen
  • Works with cartridges and Cricut Craft Room images
  • Max cut size of 12″ wide by 24″ long
  • Deep Cut Blade available to buy for thicker materials

Pros and Cons of the Expression 2

What We Love

It Cuts Well

First things first, probably the most important things to consider before buying a vinyl cutting machine is how well the machine can actually cut.

Happily, the Cricut Expression 2 cuts materials well — particularly larger designs. It’s also good at drawing if you replace the blades with appropriate pens.

Obviously, this is very much a hobbyist machine and is not sophisticated enough for professional work, but we think most crafters will find its cutting specs more than adequate.

In our view, it’s not quite as precise as the newer Cricut Explore Air machines, but this is mostly due to the fact that those machines benefit from premium German carbide blades.

The LCD Touchscreen is a Huge Improvement

When we first bought the Expression 2 many moons ago, we were seriously impressed by the LCD touchscreen and accompanying stylus.

For the time and considering its competitors, this was revolutionary!

Large, fast and in full color, the screen is a huge improvement on the tiny screen and confusing keyboard overlays that we were used to with the Expression 1.

Some users have commented that they don’t find the screen as intuitive as the Expression 1, but we found it very quick to master. Plus, it looks much neater to access design menus via the touchscreen rather than have all the many individual buttons cluttering the top of the machine like with the original.

Just a small point, but we also love the stylus that comes with it — it reminds us of using a Palm Pilot!

Anyway, the new screen allows you to quickly and easily size, flip and rotate your images without having to even open the Craft Room software. You can also select pressure and speed settings for the most commonly used materials automatically via the screen and can customize settings for more unusual materials too.

There’s also a ‘mat preview’ feature that allows you to arrange your images on the mat before it starts to cut. Great for cutting down on material waste and checking everything is in order beforehand.

You Don't Have to Be Connected to a Computer

Another benefit of the LCD touchscreen is that it’s sophisticated enough that you don’t even need to hook up to a computer to design and cut.

Ideal for craft nights and those with a less than reliable internet connection!

Comes with 800+ Images Pre-Loaded

So you can start cutting immediately once you’ve received your Cricut Expression 2, they’ve helpfully already digitally pre-loaded 2 cartridges to the machine.

These are the Cricut Essentials and Cricut Alphabet, and they include 3 fonts, 40 phrases and 110 layered images.

Sure, they’re not the most dynamic of the cartridges available, but we appreciate the gesture.

Helpful Features for More Efficient Cutting

There are a few features that really stand on the Expression 2 that make the cutting process so much easier and more efficient.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Mat Preview: allows you to arrange and see your images on the mat before cutting begins
  • Fit to Page: Maximise your image automatically
  • Auto Fill and Quantity: Great for batch cut jobs of the same image
  • Guiding Brackets: allows you to perfectly align your images on the mat
Light in the Cutting Area

Another feature that the Cricut Expression 2 boasts that the original doesn’t is a light within the blade housing.

We’re not really sure what the point of this is — but it is handy to supervise your blade as it cuts.

What We Didn’t Like

Of course, with an old and pretty outdated machine like this, you can expect a few negatives.

Here are the major issues with the machine.

You Can't Create Your Own Images

As you might have guessed from everything we’ve written so far, while we mostly like the functionality of the Cricut Expression 2, we hate the fact that you’re so restricted to only using Cricut images.

Not only is this policy really creatively restrictive, it can also make owning a Cricut Expression 2 pretty pricey.

We first bought this machine as students, when money was tight. The machine itself isn’t exactly cheap, and then having to buy lots of cartridges on top of that initial outlay was a real kicker.

Don’t get us wrong — we love the cartridges (especially the Disney ones!) but we want the opportunity to create and upload our own designs as well.

Thank goodness the latest Explore machines allow you to create and upload your own SVG files for cutting!

No Wireless Cutting

This is really nitpicking for faults at this point, but we think it’s worth pointing out anyway.

A while ago, Cricut used to sell wireless adapters that would allow us to connect wirelessly to the Expression 2 from our computers when using the Craft Room software. This meant that there were no trailing USB cables everywhere and was simply a bit easier to use.

We bought one a few years ago when we bought our Expression 2.

Unfortunately, thanks to low demand, Cricut have decided to discontinue the adapters so you’ll have to hook it up to your computer if you’re using Craft Room today.

If you’re really interested in wireless cutting capabilities without using an adapter, take a look at the Cricut Explore Air and Explore Air 2.

You Need an Internet Connection to Use Craft Room

We have a few issues with the basic functionality of the Cricut Craft Room software (it can be pretty buggy) but one of the most annoying is the fact that it requires an internet connection to use.

If you don’t have internet for whatever reason, you’ll need to use cartridges and the LCD screen.

How Does Expression 2 Compare to the Cricut Series?

As the Cricut Expression 2 is still such a popular machine, some people are confused about where it places in the Cricut ecosystem.

Like the name suggests, the Expression 2 — or the E2, as the diehard fans call it — came after the original Cricut Expression machine, and has a number of good improvements on that cutter.

It comes before the Explore One machine (and, of course, the Explore Air and Explore Air 2) and still relies completely on using images from cartridges. The later Explore machines allow you to upload and create your own images, but unfortunately this technology wasn’t in place for the arrival of the Expression 2.

Cricut Expression 1 vs Cricut Expression 2

One question we’re routinely asked is, who wins in the battle of Cricut Expression 1 vs Cricut Expression 2?

For us, it’s a no-brainer.

The Expression 2 has a huge number of important improvements over the original Expression — although there is a clutch of crafters who much prefer the simplicity of the Expression 1.

While both machines cut equally well, the Cricut Expression 2 is much more user-friendly and allows for more creativity.

The original Cricut Expression electronic cutting machine has a tiny screen and a large keyboard area which you need to use overlays for to explore the entirety of its capabilities. It also has dials which allow you to adjust image size and blade pressure.

The Expression 2, however, has completely done away with that in favor of just one large, full-color LCD touchscreen.

The machine comes with a stylus so you can operate it entirely from the LCD screen if you so desire.

It allows you to quickly and easily size, rotate and flip your images, and there’s no need for the annoying keyboard overlays we have to use with the original Cricut Expression machine.

Other bonuses in the Expression 2’s design include the ‘mat preview’ function that allows you to check what the design will look like on your material before it’s cut, and automatic pressure and speed settings for the most common materials.

Neither machine allows you to upload or create your own designs — you either need to use cartridges or buy digital images from the Cricut Craft Room software design store.

Here’s a table summarizing the main differences between the machines:

Menu functionsLCD screen with keyboard overlays and dialsLCD full-color touchscreen with stylus
Mat preview function?NoYes
Can you resize, flip and rotate images on the machine?NoYes
Can you create your own designs?No - cartridges and Cricut Craft Room images onlyNo - cartridges and Cricut Craft Room images only

If you’d prefer to check the visual differences between the machines, check out this useful video:

What Comes With The Machine?

What's in the Box?
  • Cricut Expression 2 machine
  • 2 pre-loaded cartridges: Cricut Essentials and Cricut Alphabet
  • 12″ x 12″ cutting mat
  • 3 x port covers
  • LCD screen protector
  • Stylus
  • Blade Assembly
  • USB cable
  • Power adapter
  • Quick Start Guide
  • User manual
What Materials Can it Work With?

The Cricut Expression 2 can work with a reasonably wide range of materials, including:

  • Vinyl
  • Light to heavy cardstock
  • Fabric
  • Foam
  • Vellum
  • Thin Foils

If you’re happy to purchase a deep cut blade, you’ll also be able to cut Cricut magnet and stamping materials, and chipboard.

As long as they measure between 0.75 to 23.5 inches. We couldn’t find any official word on the maximum thickness of materials you can cut, but suffice to say it’s pretty thin (up to 1.5 mm when using a deep cut blade).

Cutting Width

The reported maximum cutting width of the Cricut Expression 2 is 12 inches wide by 24 inches long.

Of course, in reality, this translates to 11.5 inches wide by 23.5 inches long.

This is the same maximum cutting size as the Explore machines, and is smaller than the newer Silhouette Cameo 3, which can cut up to a huge 10 feet long.

A cutting mat is included in your purchase of the Cricut Expression 2, but it’s just a standard size one measuring 12 by 12 inches.

If you fancy using that extra wiggle room, you’ll have to buy a large cutting mat as a separate purchase.

Damn you, Cricut, for making us buy so much extra stuff!

Software and Cartridges

On the subject of being forced to buy extra accessories to use the machine, we come to the major issue of the Expression 2: the fact that you can only use Cricut images with the machine, which you have to buy.


That’s right: just like the original Cricut Expression electronic cutting machine, the Expression 2 requires that you either use cartridges or purchase and download digital images from the image store on the Cricut Craft Room software.

The Expression 2 is compatible with all cartridges, including the Cricut Imagine ones, and can be plugged straight into the machine for immediate use. You don’t even need to connect the machine to a computer if you’re using images from a cartridge.

Read Our Complete Guide To Cricut Cartridges

You can also use the Cricut Craft Room software which is free to download here from Cricut’s website. It’s compatible with both Mac and PC.

It is an online application, so remember that you have to have a wireless internet connection to use it.

Craft Room allows you the same functions that you can access on the LCD screen, but on a larger scale. Again, you can only use Cricut images in your designs — whether on your linked cartridges or ones you’ve purchased from the image store.

Cricut Craft Room is definitely not the best cutting software out there — it’s basic and restrictive, and is occasionally plagued with connection and service errors.

Cricut Design Space (the software for the Explore machines) still isn’t a great piece of cutting software, but it’s a huge improvement on Craft Room.

Is The Cricut Expression 2 Worth Buying?

While the Cricut Expression 2 doesn’t compare as favorably with the newer Cricut machines, it’s still undoubtedly a good craft cutter and was very ahead of its time when it was first released.

It cuts well and is easy to use — the two most important components of a good cutting machine.

If you love using Cricut cartridges and aren’t particularly interested in creating your own designs, the Cricut Expression 2 is pretty much perfect. Sure the Craft Room software can be buggy and a little annoying, but the LCD screen on the machine itself is sophisticated enough for you to use the Expression as a stand-alone machine.

But if you want a machine that allows you to get creative and design your own images, the Expression 2 will be a little basic and restrictive, as you can only use it with purchased Cricut images and cartridges.

Where to Buy the Cricut Expression 2

As they’ve turned their focus to the new Explore line, Cricut have inevitably stopped selling the Expression 2 directly from their website.

Fortunately, it’s still very much available from a number of different sellers on Amazon.

But the best deals are to be found on eBay where you can make some fantastic savings.

Cricut Expression 2 Electric Cutting Machine Without Starter Tool Kit Bundle
  • 12 in x 24 in cutting capability
  • Compatible with all cricut cartridges – including cricut imagine cartridges. (cricut imagine cartridges will just cut images, not print images or patterns.)
  • Larger, faster, full color lcd touch screen display with stylus. no keypad overlay required
  • Cartridge content pre loaded on the machine

OK — now that’s everything you need to know about the Cricut Expression 2!

What do you think of this machine?

Looking for a more recent die cutting machine? Visit our Best Vinyl Cutters Guide for a comparison of the best machines on the market today. Also check out our VCM Reviews for more excellent vinyl cutters.

Cricut Expression 2 Review

VCM Verdict

The Cricut Expression 2 is an older machine from Cricut, but is still very popular among crafters as it’s a good cutter that’s easy to use. It can’t compare with the newer Explore machines or the Maker for cutting specs and the ability to create your own designs, but it’s great for people that love working with Cricut cartridges and like to use a stand-alone machine without having to hook up to your computer.


  • Good cutter
  • Usually available for a good price
  • LCD touchscreen is intuitive and useful
  • Can be used without internet connection
  • Comes with 800+ preloaded images


  • Can’t create your own images
  • Doesn’t compare favourably to Explore machines

21 thoughts on “Cricut Expression 2 Review”

  1. I received an Expression 2 for Christmas last year. It was second hand but it did work ok for a while after I had to figure how to use it. Now I am having a ton of issues with it. It is very frustrating. So I have purchased an Explore One. I am hoping I made a good decision.

  2. I just purchased a new cricut expression and this is my first cricut item. I only paid 50.00 and it was NEW. My question is can I purchase used cartridges ( from eBay) and will they work on my machine? I see people say they can’t be linked to an account but I don’t even have an account. Please help! I am lost..

    • You can buy used or new cartridges on eBay. Both can be used on your CRicut expression machine. However those that are linked can not be uploaded a second time (because it has already been). I use both linked and unlinked on my expression machines. While
      I suppose “new” is best, my experience with linked carts has been great. I have well over 100 carts. I have no intention of using my machines other than stand alone (off of any computer).
      If you intent to use your machine on line, unlinked would be a better investment.

  3. Purchased a used Cricut Expression 2 still in box from a neighbor. just getting use to it from my personal size unit. I have no problem pulling my image however I cannot resize less then 5.5 image. It will let me go larger but not smaller. I have tried using the installed images and also cartridges I used prior in personal Cricut. Any ideas. The person who I purchased says she used it one or two times. It was in the original box and I have the instruction book. Any idea why this will not work. Someone told me I had to hit the arrow twice to get it to change. Did not see this help either. Thoughts please

  4. Can I use the online software to cut into the cricut expression 2 without the wifi adapter? I can’t find it anywhere and it won’t allow me to connect my E2 to my Mac! What can I do?

  5. Can the Expression 2 be used to make message shirts. Using different fonts to create messages like “Crazy Cat Mom”. If so what fonts are available and would they be in the online software?b

  6. Unfortunately, Cricut stopped supporting Cricut Craft Room, so this machine is only usable via direct plugged in cartridges. Kinda a big bummer and large step backwards for those who have an expression and want to continue to use it for basic crafts.

  7. I have a cricut expression 2 and got a cricut air2 for mother’s day. I was just wondering if i link my cartridges to my cricut air 2 can i still use the cartridges in my cricut expression? I have been trying for find the answer but have not had any luck. Thanks

  8. Anyone who can recommend a third party software for Expression 2?
    I saw tutorials in Youtube using sure cuts a lot but it didn’t include expression 2. just the first version *sob*

  9. Does anyone know how to recalibrate a machine that is refusing to recalibrate? Is there some internal reset or software I can access anywhere on the web to update my machine? I know how to recalibrate but it will not go beyond the 3rd + mark (Bottom right) on the screen and just freezes there. I HATE that Cricut abandoned us with a good machine. They should continue to support their old machines!!

  10. I’m curious to have an update to this review, now that Cricut Craft Room no longer exists. Do you still find the E2 to be worthwhile?


  11. You mentioned “Craft Room” several times in the above review however I understand this feature is now discontinued; Does expression 2 ONLY work in conjunction with “craft room” ? or can it work as a stand alone ?

    • It can work by itself if you have cartridges. I got mine for $75 with 24 cartridges. The only trouble I have with it is the keypad is not correct with the letters.

    • You can get it to work with SCAL and then you don’t need craft room. You just have to have one cartridge to put in it to get it to work right – doesn’t matter what cartridge – then you can make anything.

      • Then it comes down to which machine cuts better/faster; that’s what I am looking for. My expression 1 is awesome after switching to scal.

  12. With the Expression 2, the 800+images, are the images on the machine or can you only get the images from Craft Room which no longer is available? Thank you

  13. Is there somewhere to find a update for the expression 2 firmware? Cricut should still support old machines Any help would be appreciated. Thanks


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