I love digital die-cutting- the intricacy of the shapes, the ease of use, and the sheer number of designs available are what seals it for me. And despite my years of digital die-cutting experience, I’ve never used or reviewed a Silhouette America machine! Come into a whole new world with me…
- Silhouette Portrait™ electronic cutting tool
- Silhouette Studio® software
- 50 exclusive cuttable designs
- Power cable, USB cable
- 8″ cutting mat
- Cutting blade
- $10 gift card to the Silhouette Online Store (PS- mine did NOT WORK. I had to use an additional card that I purchased to buy extra designs.)
- Basic Instruction Guide
And of course, you need to provide a computer. This is the kind of digital die-cutter that you must have a computer and an internet connection in order for it to work. The machine itself is rather small and lightweight for a digi machine. The unit measures 16.25” x 5.6” x 4.5” and only weighs about 3 and a half pounds.
Here’s how it’s described on the website:
The Silhouette Portrait™ is an electronic cutting tool for personal use. Like a home printer, it plugs into your PC or Mac® with a simple USB cable. However, instead of printing it uses a small blade to cut paper, cardstock, vinyl, fabric and more up to 8″ wide and 10 feet long. The machine also has the ability to register and cut printed materials.
There are surprisingly few buttons on the machine itself. You’ve got buttons to load the mat with media on it, load media, unload mat, power, and pause. Everything else is done via computer.
So let me tell you that the most challenging part was actually installing the software. I used the CD ROM included with the kit, and it seemed to work well- the program even opened up. But after I closed the program, it wouldn’t open again: it kept getting an error code. I had to uninstall and reinstall the program four times (eventually using the version on the website) to get it to load. It was a very frustrating process and I’m worried that for a less computer-savvy person, it might make them just give up.
But after I actually got it going, it was surprisingly easy. You open your library of images, double-click to select, resize and cut!
Let me show you how it works in this video:
As I mentioned in the video, I got super excited to print and cut. Here are the photos from that experiment:
I also cut out some images on copy paper. Even though I used the setting recommended on the machine, I still got some ragged bits. Personally, I’ll stick to cardstock.
I also got excited to try cutting the fonts on my computer. I even tried out the “welding” feature to join my letters into one unit. Even though I am a complete novice at this, it was pretty easy and self-explanatory if you’ve ever used any kind of editing software.
Lastly, I tried out some sketching using some Silhouette sketch pens I purchased. It was very easy to swap them out and I was pleased with the results.
So here’s my initial opinion of the Silhouette Portrait digital die cutter: it will be ideal for
- Someone who has space concerns;
- Doesn’t want to mess with cartridges or cards;
- Is fairly tech-savvy;
- Is patient learning new tasks and routines;
- And wants the of freedom of buying designs one-at-a-time and/OR
- Is interested in learning to make their own cut images!
The downsides of this machine are fairly obvious- but the price isn’t one of them. This machine retails for under $200 and, while still pricier than the other “mini” option out there, has really solid software that helps justify the cost in my mind. (Plus, look how much money you’ll save on cartridges!)
I plan to do a follow-up review next month trying out some vinyl and fabric, as well as cutting some of my own images. In the meanwhile, I’d love to hear any questions or comments you might have!
Disclosure: machine provided for review purposes. Additional images and sketch pens purchased with my own funds.
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