Before you read our Cameo 3 review, please note:
- 1 Silhouette Cameo 3 Launch Guide
- 2 Silhouette Cameo 3 Specs
- 3 Silhouette Cameo 3 Review
- 4 Where to Buy the Cameo 3
- 5 New Silhouette Products for 2018
Silhouette Cameo 3 Launch Guide
First introduced in October 2011, the Silhouette Cameo has captured the imagination of arts and crafts enthusiasts all over the world; giving us the freedom to design, cut, and create whatever we want. The latest addition to the Silhouette family was announced last month at the company’s Summit in Hawaii.
As you’d expect, news of a brand new Cameo has triggered much excitement in the blogosphere.
We’ve rounded up some of the initial feedback below, as well as a useful video of the new Cameo 3 features.
Blog Coverage of the Cameo 3 Release
- Silhouette School Blog — A breakdown of the latest Silhouette products, as well as an insider video of the Cameo 3 direct from the summit.
- Craft E Corner — Detailed photos show the inner workings of the new machine.
- Silhouette UK Blog — Sneak peeks of the Cameo 3, plus photos of many of the new media features soon to be launched by Silhouette
- Terri Johnson Creates — An excellent round up of Silhouette’s new products, including many exclusive photos and a nice video.
Here’s a nice breakdown of the Cameo 3’s major improvements, courtesy of the mycraftecorner1 YouTube channel.
Brand New Silhouette Studio 4.0
Another significant development with the Cameo 3 is the much-anticipated arrival of Silhouette Studio 4.0, software that promises to make life easier for those who might have previously been turned off by the studio’s dicey learning curve.
Silhouette Studio 4.0 encourages beginners with step-by-step walkthroughs for a variety of common tasks, plus interactive guides.
This will be complimented by a simpler and streamlined interface, including:
- A freehand smoothing slider tool
- Easier and improved tracing tools
- Accurate cut time estimates
- Object-on-path functionality
The software upgrade will be available free for all Cameo products, although some functionality will only work with the new Cameo 3.
Silhouette is clearly taking steps to reverse the criticism that its software is only for advanced users — we’ll talk more about this below, but we think it’s struck the perfect balance between introductory software for beginners and offering a lot of scope for more advanced users.
Silhouette Cameo 3 Specs
What’s in the Box?
- Silhouette Cameo 3 cutting machine
- Silhouette Studio software
- Power cable and USB cable
- 12″ cutting mat
- AutoBlade cutting blade
- 1 month Basic subscription to the Silhouette Design Store
- 100 free digital designs
What Materials Can it Work With?
The Silhouette Cameo 3 really is at the forefront of developments with desktop craft cutters.
It can cut over 100 different materials — that’s all the usual suspects plus a bunch that you’ve never even heard of. It’s amazingly versatile and definitely deserves its marketing slogan as “the ultimate DIY machine”.
We tried it out with paper, vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, cardstock, foil and foam and were pleased with the results — reliable and consistent.
Maximum Cutting Size
In the battle of Cameo 3 vs Explore Air 2, the Cameo really stands out for its much increased cutting size.
It can cut up to a maximum of 12 inches wide by a mighty 10 feet long. We loved using it for small designs as well as for larger signage projects.
Despite promises that Silhouette Studio 4.0 would be released in tandem with the Cameo 3, as of November 2016 it was still delayed.
This is quite disappointing as the new version promises a lot of positive change and is presenting itself as better for beginners than previous iterations.
Thankfully, there is now a patch available to set up the Bluetooth connection for your Cameo 3. Check out this tutorial to enable it.
There is also a mobile app — compatible with both iOS and Android — that will be particularly useful when all the features of Silhouette Studio 4.0 are here (like Bluetooth and the Silhouette Cloud).
UPDATE: Silhouette Studio 4 was finally released. As of June 2018, we’re currently on version 4.1.442 that is compatible with both Mac and Windows devices.
Silhouette Cameo 3 Review
All things considered, we’re impressed with the Cameo 3.
It builds on the success of the previous models with some key new features, as well as a few cosmetic improvements that are ‘nice’ without being spectacular.
Silhouette Cameo 2 vs 3
Here’s our take on the pros and cons of the Silhouette Cameo 3.
The AutoBlade is a Big Win
This is going to make a lot of Cameo users very happy.
No longer do you have to manually adjust cutting depths and hope that you remember for each cut.
By using the AutoBlade setting (one of three, the others being Standard and Deep Cut), the blade settings will be automatically calibrated based on the material you are working with.
This will appeal to nearly everybody who uses the Cameo 3, both the experienced operators who sometimes forget to change the blade depth, and beginners who aren’t sure what the best setting should be in the first place. As a result, the machine’s learning curve is sped up considerably.
To use AutoBlade, you simply tell the software what material you are cutting, select AutoBlade, and let the machine handle the rest.
From our testing, the cuts were excellent quality across each blade setting.
Our rolls of vinyl were sliced and diced to perfection. No reliability issues to report.
Cutting Clearance is Doubled
The Cameo 3’s cutting clearance has risen from a lowly 0.8mm to 2mm.
With the addition of a Deep Cut Blade, this improves the cutter’s effectiveness working on thicker materials. However, as we will get to in our negatives, there is a caveat: the cutting force remains weak.
The Dual Carriage Work Well
While we don’t tend to draw and cut too often, we know many users do — and the dual carriage is one of the nice features of the Cricut Explore series. It also scores and cuts at the same time too.
The Cameo 3 hops onboard with its own dual carriages, and they work very well.
They also make use of the new push locking mechanism, a significant improvement on the unwieldy twist mechanisms of previous machines.
Anything that makes craft cutting a more efficient experience is a huge win in our books.
It Looks Beautiful
Forgive us, but we are suckers for the sleek and shiny.
The Cameo 3 is a beautiful cutting machine that is a pleasure to unbox.
You know that feeling of tearing open a brand new Apple product?
Silhouette provides similar tingles for Craft fans. In fact, there’s something rather Jony Ive about the clean minimalism of this model. It will look beautiful on your desktop.
Silhouette Studio 4.0 is a Big Step Up
Despite waiting for ages for the software to actually be released, we’re super impressed with Silhouette Studio 4.0.
It’s struck the perfect balance for beginners and more experienced users alike, is intuitive to use with plenty of opportunities to create your own designs and really get stuck in.
In our view, it’s a more sophisticated product than Cricut Design Space that’s generally reliable and fun to use.
Here’s a handy introductory video:
Incremental User Experience Improvements
The small touches add up to a significantly improved user experience over the Cameo 2.
Some of the new tweaks we liked:
- Media guides on the slide-out tray — In addition to an extended platform, the new media lines are a useful marker for feeding the Cameo.
- Touchscreen improvements — The audio alerts took us by surprise, even though we had heard about them during our pre-launch research. The touchscreen interface has been simplified in a way that is clearly targeted at eliminating user errors and reassuring beginners.
- New storage compartments — Space is at a premium in our office, so the brand new compartments for the cross cutter and additional work supplies are a nice touch. A nod from Silhouette to the sheer mess their machines create. 😉
- Roller locking mechanism — Slide to lock, slide to unlock. Why didn’t they think of this the first time round?!
No Upgrade to Cutting Force
If you were hoping for some extra oomph in terms of cutting power, you’ll be disappointed. The Cameo 3 has the same 221 g/s that was built in to the last model.
This lags behind other top cutters and means that thicker materials such as chipboard, leather and metal are still out of the Cameo’s cutting depth range.
However, it was always optimistic to hope for super-deep-cutting.
Overall Verdict on Silhouette Cameo 3
A raft of incremental improvements in the Cameo 3 and some key additions — particularly the AutoBlade and dual carriages – offset the disappointment that the cutting force is still restrictive.
That said, 90% of vinyl craft fans will get exactly what they want and need out of this machine.
It’s a highly polished cutter.
Plus, the eventual release of Silhouette Studio 4.0 means that there’s more opportunity to create beautiful designs than ever before.
Looking for a good deal on the Cameo 3?
UPDATE: How Does It Fare In 2020?
Being totally honest, the Cameo 3 is really due for an upgrade now.
A few years after its release, it does lag a little behind Cricut, its main competitor, who have since released the Explore Air 2 and the Maker. In comparison, the Cameo 3 is a little slow and doesn’t offer quite the same powerful cutting force.
Having said that, the Cameo 3 is still a truly excellent craft cutter that can more than hold its own. The Silhouette community is probably the best on the internet and a raft of updates mean that Silhouette Studio is much improved since we last reviewed it.
UPDATE: Silhouette listened and finally delivered the hugely improved Cameo 4 in Fall 2019.
Where to Buy the Cameo 3
If you’re looking for some of the best Cameo 3 deals, then look no further than Amazon.
New Silhouette Products for 2018
Unfortunately, there’s no new Silhouette Cameo due to be released later this year, but there are a few goodies we’re looking forward to:
- Silhouette Alta 3D Printer [click here for our complete guide and review!]
- Alta filaments
- Cameo 3 in Glitter Light Pink
- Cameo 3 in Glitter Hot Pink
- Cameo 3 in Glitter Light Blue
- Cameo 3 in Glitter Grey
- Craft Blade
- Strong Hold Cutting Mat
- Pink Tool Kit
- Cameo 3 Light Tote Pink
- Cameo 3 Portrait Dust Cover Pink
Release list source: Silhouette School Blog
So… lots to look forward to from Silhouette in the next 12 months!
What do you think of the new Silhouette Cameo 3 machine?
A strong update? Or will you be sticking with your Cameo 2, Cricut Explore, etc?
Looking for alternative die cutters that might suit you better? Check out this updated guide of the best machines, and be sure to visit our Reviews section for detailed analysis of ALL the top-selling die cutters.
Silhouette Cameo 3 Review
A raft of incremental improvements in the Cameo 3 and some key additions make it a valuable upgrade over the Cameo 2.
Cutting force is still lagging, but its flexibility, the sheer scope of materials you can work with — and the ease of use, tied to Silhouette’s gigantic user community — make the Cameo 3 a formidable craft cutter.
It’s no wonder that it’s still one of the best-selling craft cutters years after its release!