Silhouette Portrait 2 Review
A huge upgrade on the original Portrait, the Portrait 2 takes everything you love in the Cameo 3 and repackages it into a smaller, lighter and cheaper package.
However, it is reasonably expensive — almost as much as the Cameo 3, which we think is the better machine.
What’s that you say… time for a brand new machine?!
We’re excited to reveal that the Silhouette Portrait 2 will be launched on November 10 2017.
That’s right. Just in time for Christmas…
While we’re yet to get our hands on it, we’re chomping at the bit to try it out — it promises to be a cool mix of the original Portrait (you’ll remember it as our number 1 choice for the best cheap vinyl cutting machine) and the more sophisticated Cameo 3.
As soon as we’ve had a couple of weeks to play with this new machine, we’ll update this page with our unbiased (and un-sponsored!) review.
UPDATE: We’ve had a chance to thoroughly test out the Portrait 2 — head down to our review below
In the meantime, we’ve compiled all the details that we’ve heard so far on the Silhouette Portrait 2.
Let’s take it away…
- 1 Introducing the Portrait 2
- 2 Silhouette Portrait 2: Features
- 3 Silhouette Cameo 3 vs Portrait 2
- 4 Silhouette Portrait vs Portrait 2
- 5 Silhouette Portrait 2 Review
- 6 Where to buy the Portrait 2
Introducing the Portrait 2
Silhouette announced the imminent launch of the Portrait 2 at their annual meeting back in May of this year.
You might remember reading the Silhouette School announcement just after the fact.
They really started ramping up the anticipation in early October, where they released the machine for pre-ordering on their website.
Plus, they gave us a sneak peek with this launch video:
How cool does that llama party look?!
Owners of the original Portrait will see that not much has changed looks wise — it’s perhaps a little sleeker and chicer.
But the fundamentals are the same — this is a smaller, cheaper version of the Cameo. A perfect choice for beginner craft cutters or people on a budget.
Silhouette describe it as their “most compact DIY machine” — if you’re looking for something portable and great for smaller projects, this could well be the machine for you.
- Launch Date: November 10 2017 (available for pre-order now)
- Price on Silhouette America: $199.99
- Amazon: Not yet listed on Amazon (we’ll update as soon as it is!)
- Max Cutting Width: 8 inches
- Bluetooth Compatible?: Yes
- # of Materials it can Cut: 100+
What’s in the Box?
When you order the Portrait 2 direct from Silhouette America, you’ll receive the following inside the delivered package:
- Silhouette Portrait 2 electronic cutting machine
- Silhouette Studio software
- 50 exclusive cuttable designs
- Power cable
- USB cable
- 8-inch cutting mat
- 1 month free subscription to Silhouette Design Store
- Bluetooth adapter
Silhouette Portrait 2: Features
While it may look very similar to the original Portrait, it won’t take you long to realise that this is a definite step-up.
Sure, it’s not on quite the same level as the Cameo 3, but it’s got a whole host of new features that puts it as the perfect compromise between the compact Portrait and the high-tech Cameo.
Plus, it’s hard to argue with that price point.
Here are the major features that we’re most excited about.
One of our favorite things about the Cameo 3 is that we don’t need to plug it into our laptop in order to use it.
The Bluetooth compatibility ensures that you can design in Silhouette Studio — or whatever your chosen software is — from the comfort of your sofa, on your smartphone or tablet, and then easily send your design wirelessly to your machine.
Happily, the Portrait 2 now sports the same technology.
No more getting your wires tangled!
Another thing we love about the Cameo 3 is the intuitive AutoBlade.
The AutoBlade is able to automatically calibrate itself to the correct settings for whatever material you’re using.
That means no more fiddling about with blade depths and pressure, and hoping for the best!
It’s not only a huge timesaver, but a really sophisticated piece of technology that will immeasurably improve your cutting. Not to mention stop you wasting so much material on bum cuts…
The Portrait 2 is also blessed with the AutoBlade — and this is included when you buy the machine.
Also Compatible with the Deep Cut Blade
This blade you’ll have to buy separately, but we know plenty of crafters that will be delighted that the new Portrait is compatible with Silhouette’s much loved Deep Cut Blade.
Suddenly, this will open up a lot more cutting opportunities as you’ll be able to work with much thicker materials than you could previously.
Large, 2mm Clearance
Another feature on the Portrait 2 that will enable you to start using thicker materials is the brand new 2mm clearance — the same as on the Cameo 3.
This is a significant improvement on the original Portrait. We only felt comfortable using thin materials like paper, card and vinyl as the machine feels quite delicate and simply doesn’t have the enhanced engineering of a sturdier machine.
But with the Portrait 2, we’re excited to try out materials like craft foam and leather.
Another way that the new Portrait is comparable to the latest Cameo is the fact that you can use PixScan technology to scan and cut your own images.
This bad boy is also equipped with an optical scanner to allow you to create your own custom cuts using the Print & Cut feature.
Is this simply the more compact alternative to the Cameo 3?
Silhouette Cameo 3 vs Portrait 2
We thought it might be helpful to compare the specs of the new machine against the Cameo 3 so you can see which might be better suited to your needs.
|Portrait 2||Cameo 3|
|Max Cutting Width||8"||12"|
As you can see, the Portrait 2 is essentially a smaller, cheaper version of the Cameo 3 with a little less of the functionality of the more expensive model.
Silhouette Portrait vs Portrait 2
But how do the two Portrait machines measure up against the other?
Should you stick with your original Portrait or upgrade to the new model?
Let’s take a look.
|Max Cutting Width||8"||8"|
The Portrait 2 has plenty more functionality than the original Portrait and is only slightly more expensive.
Silhouette Portrait 2 Review
It’s a HUGE upgrade on the original Portrait
If you’re a fan of the original Portrait, we know that you’re going to love this second edition.
Essentially, Silhouette have taken some of the best functionality from the Cameo 3 and repackaged it into the cheaper, lighter and smaller framework of the Portrait.
We’ve already covered the brand new features of the Portrait 2, but basically you can expect such things as the AutoBlade, Bluetooth compatibility, PixScan compatibility and a nice 2mm clearance.
While it’s more expensive than the original Portrait, this is definitely the superior machine.
Good, precision cutting
While we wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is the most precise and accurate desktop cutter on the market (our top marks go to the Cricut Explore Air 2 for that honor), the Portrait 2 is more than capable of tackling simple and more elaborate designs.
Silhouette claim that the machine is able to work with over 100 different materials and, while we haven’t tried them all, we found it to perform well on everything we tried — particularly paper, cardstock, vinyl and magnet paper.
The new AutoBlade compatibility is certainly a real pro — it will automatically calibrate its settings to the material you’re using, taking any guesswork out of the equation.
Plus, with a bumped up 2mm clearance, the Portrait 2 is theoretically able to handle thicker and heavier materials than the original machine ever could.
Handles designs up to 10 feet long
The maximum cutting width for the Portrait is 8 inches, which is a little restrictive, but we do love the fact that it is capable of a maximum cutting length of 10 feet.
That’s truly remarkable for such a small machine — and it puts the Cricut machines to shame considering they’re only able to go up to 24 inches.
One of our favorite aspects of the original Portrait was the fact that it was the perfect machine to take with your on your travels.
Small and light, this can easily fit into hand luggage or even your handbag — and this is even more true for the Portrait 2.
It weighs in at just under 6 pounds and is only 12 inches wide.
Plus, the fact that it’s now Bluetooth compatible means that you don’t need to set up a huge wired operation to start work — you can design and port your creations across to the machine totally wirelessly.
No dual carriage
One area where we think Silhouette missed an opportunity was not including a dual carriage on the Portrait 2, allowing you to write and cut, write and score or score and cut at the same time.
While this would have made the unit a little heavier, without it it’s missing some excellent functionality, and a real time-saving feature.
Only a little cheaper than the Cameo 3
Our major bug bear with the Portrait 2 is the price. Not that it’s too expensive — we actually think it represents fair value for money considering what you get.
But it’s only marginally cheaper than the Cameo 3. And when you’re spending this much money on a machine like this, why not spend a little extra to get additional functionality, more cutting space and a more powerful machine?
As such, we’re not really sure who the Portrait 2 is for.
When the original Portrait came out, it was priced low enough to be a perfect fit for beginners and those on a strict budget. This second edition is almost a little too flashy for that audience now — and certainly more expensive.
We honestly think the Portrait 2 is a great machine — and definitely a step up from the original — but we also think that the Cameo 3 is better. And, if your budget is flexible, we’d recommend the Cameo over this one.
We think the brand new Silhouette Portrait 2 is a great machine that works well, has lots of room for creative freedom, while also being small and light enough to be taken with you on all your travels.
It’s inevitably more expensive than the original Portrait, almost approaching the price tag of the superior Cameo 3, so we’re not sure that this is the best machine to buy if you’re on a budget or looking for the best Silhouette machine.
UPDATE: How Does It Fare In 2019?
The Portrait 2 has never reached the same popularity of the original Portrait, despite it being a demonstrably better cutting machine.
We think this is because of the price — it’s almost as much as the Cameo 3, which is much bigger, more powerful and more versatile — and most customers are likely going to be tempted to spend just a little more to get a lot more with the Cameo.
Having said that, the Portrait 2 can often be found online with some juicy discounts, which we think makes it a great deal.
If you’re looking for a small machine that goes a long way, you could do much worse than the Portrait 2.
Where to buy the Portrait 2
The Portrait 2 is available to buy direct from Silhouette America or via Amazon.
There’s also a really cool bundle deal on Amazon featuring the Portrait 2 that would make for an excellent gift:
It includes the following:
- Silhouette Portrait 2
- Full color guide to vinyl application
- 1 month to Silhouette U
- 1 month to Silhouette Club
- Exclusive access to Silhouette School designs
- 24 sheets of assorted Oracal 651 permanent vinyl
- Pack of 24 sketch pens
- Hook tool
- Scraper tool
- 6 feet of premium transfer tape
- 100 exclusive designs
- 1 month to Silhouette Design Store worth $25 in downloads
Are you tempted to buy the Silhouette Portrait 2?
Got your eyes on another machine instead? Our complete guide to the Best Vinyl Cutters can help you make an informed decision before you buy. There is also our Reviews portal for detailed analysis of the best machines. 🙂