Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cutter 1 of 3: The Silhouette SD (part 1)

After word got out that the PC-MTC lawsuit had settled, I started receiving requests for recommendations for an electronic cutter that is not a Provo Craft product. Honestly, the Cricut is all I have ever used. I never really cared to find out more about the other cutters that are out there because I was happy with my Cricut.

As a result of the recent settlement, Make-the-Cut is no longer compatible with any Provo Craft machines. Since I have and am still using MTC v.3.2.1 with my Cricut Expression (firmware 2.34), all that means to me is that I can no longer update my MTC or firmware if I want to continue using MTC with my Cricut. If I leave my program and cutter as-is, I  can continue using MTC and my Cricut together so long as I NEVER  update either the program or the machine's firmware. EVER.

In other words, with the settlement, Provo Craft has effectively given me, the Cricut user, an ultimatum: either stick with using the Cricut and cartridges without MTC OR to continue using MTC with another cutter that is not a Cricut.  I can no longer have the best of both worlds. I was forced to choose a side. If I choose to update MTC in the future, I will not be able to use my Cricut with it. If I choose to use my Cricut with MTC, I can never update my MTC. If there should be an update or upgrade, while the other non-Cricut /MTC users are enjoying all the cool new features, I am stuck with v.3.2.1. Forever.

To me, the choice is obvious. I'm an MTC girl but, the Cricut was the only cutter I have ever used. Who am I to recommend any other cutters when I have no hands-on experience with any die-cutting machines besides the Cricut? It didn't take long for me to realize what I had to do. In an effort to give you, my dear blog readers, a fair and unbiased assessment, I decided to pay out-of-pocket, and without sponsorship, for three MTC-compatible cutters that I think would make a possible good replacement for the Cricut Expression.

Out of the list of cutters that I know are compatible with MTC, I decided to get the Silhouette SD, the Gazelle, and the Lynx. The Silhouette SD costs $189 less a $10 coupon on Overstock.com and $199 on Amazon.com. I am aware that Custom Crops currently has the cutter for sale at $159 but I have had a bad experience shopping with their site so that I no longer shop there. 

After checking around for a little bit, I decided to buy the cutter from Overstock.com. I ordered the Silhouette on March 12 and it was delivered on Mar 17. I finally took it out of the box on Monday.

This is the box that the machine was shipped in.

 and here is my new friend.
"Hello! Nice to meet you,."

Look! No carts required!
Seriously, no carts and free designs?

 Here it is out of the box:
The Silhouette SD?

The Silhouette SD unveiled.

Size-wise, the Silhouette is a baby compared to the Cricut Expression.

It is also A LOT lighter. The Cricut Expression weights over 12 lbs while the Silhouette weighs a mere 4 lbs. I can hold it with one hand!

There are only 5 buttons on the Silhouette compared to the Cricut's half-a-million (fine, that 's an exaggeration, but you know that there are a lot of buttons on that silly rubber overlay). 

 To use the machine, the cover has to be lifted up like that:

Here's the blade plunger inside the plunger holder and secured by the blue lock lever.

Here are the other stuff that came with the machine: 2 cutting mats, a power cable, an AC adapter, a USB cable...

 ...Silhouette Studio software, and a $10 download card to the Silhouette Online Store.

The blade for the Silhouette looks very different from that of the Cricut. There is a blade plunger with 3 adjustable caps. The different colored cap is used for cutting different weight paper.

The Blue cap is for thin material like vinyl or vellum. The yellow cap is for medium thickness paper, while the pink is for thick paper such as cardstock.

Here is a short video for you:

My first impression of the cutter is EXCELLENT. I love how small it is. Even hubby said it was "So Cute!". I really like how light it is too. 4 lbs! Even my groceries weigh heavier than that! Because of it's small size, it takes up a lot less room than my Cricut Expression. I like how it looks too. The 5 buttons is a refreshing change from the Cricut's multi-button overlay. So minimalist! The best part is that it does not use any cartridges at all. Not even a dummy one like the one we have to leave in the Cricut for MTC to work with it.

This concludes my first post about the Silhouette SD. In my next post, I will show you my first cut with the Silhouette SD. 

Stay tuned.


  1. Thank you for doing this and SHARING. You are awesome and so very thoughtful..THANK YOU...(waiting for the Gazelle)

  2. Will be looking forward to all your posts on all machines. You are taking on a big task and appreciate your time in doing this.

  3. Thanks for your many pictures and detailed review. I know my Cricut will die one day and I'm thinking about what I'll get to replace it. Your info about the cutters will help me decide what to get next.

  4. Well, I'm eyes and ears....I'll be watching everyday for your unbiased opinion. One question all ready.....how troublesome is it to change the blade. I cut mostly cardstock, but will sometimes need to quickly change to the medium blade when I'm cutting my 32 lb laser paper (long story).. You are such a dear to do this. I'm a SCAL user at this time, but I'am very open to everything...I have a Mac as I have already mentions.

  5. I made the switch from Expressions to Silhouette 1.5 yrs ago and have never regretted my decision. You are gonna LOVE it and the freedom and especially the amazingly detailed and accurate designs you can cut. Congrats!!

  6. Thanks so much for doing this! I am very thankful and when I heard of the lawsuit (I was actually on the lookout for the expression on clearence but no more Cricut products for me!!!) Interested in the Inspiration or Silhouette. Looking forward to your reviews. Thanks again.

  7. Thank you so much for giving us a play by play....I too plan to give up my Cricut rather than give up MTC. It such a great program ...I would feel like my hands were tied behind my back without it!! I have been looking all over for someone to give me a direction for a new cutter...thought I was leaning towards the Lynx but it is SO pricey...so anxious to hear how you like your Silhouette!!

  8. Wow, Jin, you are amazing!! Three new cutters to review for us?? Just wow....hopefully someday I can afford a new cutter, because I too am choosing MTC over PC!! Can't wait to see all of your info over the next few weeks!!

  9. Thank you so very much for doing this for us;0) Will defiantly be following you closely...Would love to know if it cuts SVG files and if you can cut them through their software or a third part...TIA

    Sheri G

  10. How I wish I could buy another cutter right now! I am so FINISHED with PC!! Thanks so much for doing this, because I know I will be replacing my Cricut when I've saved up enough to get something better. I'm particularly interested in a machine that cuts thicker materials. Thanks again!

  11. Thanks Jin,

    Great information!

  12. Thanks so much I too will have to give up my pc someday and good to have an idea of what to replace it with.

  13. wow. I'm impressed that you bought all these yourself and you are giving an unbiased review. I think that people will be so appreciative. Are you planning to keep all 3 cutters, or just the one you like best? :)

  14. Thank you for your honesty so appreciate it. I too have that dilemma at this moment. I can't afford to purchase the cartridges PC brings out every month so opted for the SCAL & MTC and now find myself looking for a new cutter. So sad but I'm willing to pull out of my savings for this one :(

  15. Can't wait to see part two re: the silhoutte. Just received mine today have only taken it out of the box.

  16. Thank you so much. I think the comments and pictures are just great. I am looking forward to seeing the cuts with it.

  17. Thanks for doing this. I can't wait for the next installments.

  18. Thanks so very much for sharing all this info - I'm so disappointed in Provo Craft as I am a SCAL user and will have the same problems as MTC very soon. I would definitely consider getting another machine to continue using SCAL and MTC. I fear Provo Craft has shot themselves in the foot!!

  19. Jin, I am SO excited that you are doing this review. I LOVE my Silhouette. After doing research last summer, the flexibility of being able to cut any true type font and buying images from 99 cents instead of a whole cartridge are the two main points that sold me. I got mine at Archivers where I was able to use a 30% coupon, so it was a GREAT deal! I have never regretted the decision! The one thing that I have not been able to do, however is cut SVG files very successfully, so I am excited to see your solution for that, since I LOVE all of the things that you have done with the Lettering Delight SVG's! To answer Cely's question - the blade housings are very easy to change, but I have not tried to cut anything other than cardstock and vinyl - it does a beautiful job with either!

  20. Thanks for taking this task on and sharing the results with us. I like the price of the Silhoutte on Overstock and look forward to seeing how well it works. Its generous of you to buy these three machines using your own money, just so you can share your unbiased opinion. I think that is very reputable and trustworthy. It shows that you have integrity as well as deep artistic talents. Happy Cutting! Oh, and I love the floating yellow submarine banner (and I hope you keep the red X mark on your blog title)

  21. Can't wait to here about how it cuts and how you like it!

  22. I love my Silhouette (just got it 4 weeks ago). Cuts so much better than the Cricut. Can't wait to hear more about what you have to say about it.

  23. I just bought this machine and I can't wait to start using it. Thanks for this!

  24. ok after using it for a whiles have you notced something like clogging or bad cutting? besides the normal worn of the blade, cause I've seeing in some places complains about paper bad cuttings

    1. I haven't used my SD in over a year now (I'm using a Cameo) and I don't recall the issues that you mentioned. If there is bad cutting, I would start by checking the file, then the blade, the settings, the paper, and the mat.