Monday, April 11, 2011

The Silhouette SD Review (part 5): My Conclusion

UPDATE: Please note that there is now a MTC-Silhouette Plug-in available that has made cutting to the Silhouette a lot easier. For more information, please read this post: Silhouette SD Plug-in Now Available!

So it has been about three weeks since I first started playing with my Silhouette and I think it's about time I tell you what I really think about it. 

Before I proceed, let me say that everyone has different considerations when it comes to shopping for a new electronic cutter. What I use my machine for, may not be what you are looking for in your cutter. Bear in mind that I am primarily a card-maker and my requirement for a cutter is simple: I need it to work with Make-the-Cut and Lettering Delights and I need for it to cut well. By that, I mean I need the cutouts to look like what I see on my computer monitor. If I see a circle on the MTC Virtual Mat, I would like for my cutout to look as round as that circle on the computer monitor. Having said that, these are my personal observations.

(Note: I have included a scale rating from 1 to 10, where 1 is the Poorest score and 10 is the Highest.)

1. Perfect Print-and-Cut (Rating: 8 out of 10)
The print and cut feature of the Silhouette SD cutter has got to be the best excuse to get this cutter. As a complete newbie to the Silhouette SD cutter and the free accompanying Silhouette Studio software, I found it ridiculously easy to work with that feature. The accuracy of the cut blew me away. The reason why I did not give this a 10/10 rating is because I had to use the included software, Silhouette Studio, to make this feature work. The whole point of me buying a new cutter is so that I can use Make-the-Cut with it. I wasn't thrilled that I had to use a different program for the print-and-cut but since the Silhouette Studio was so easy to use, I will only take off two points. :)

2. Cutting Accuracy (Rating: 9 out of 10)
The cuts made by the Silhouette cutter were very precise. I was so thrilled to see the circle cuts looking perfectly round. I took one point off the rating because the machine does not make a clean corner when the cutout is small. It doesn't bother me but I took a point off anyway.

Silhouette cut is on the left, Cricut cut is on the right. Note the slanted eyes and crooked smile.

3. Design (Rating: 8 out of 10)
I love how light and small this cutter is. You can easily bring it to a crop since it's only 4Lbs. It doesn't take up much room and I love that there are only 5 buttons on the machine. I took 2 points off the rating because I don't like the blade caps. It is troublesome to have to switch caps so I just keep the pink cap on the blade and just adjust the Controller Thickness. Besides, having these little caps lying around is inconvenient. Since only one cap is on the blade at any one time, I had to find a safe spot of the other two caps. I've lost and found them twice already in three weeks!

4. Ease of Use with MTC (Rating: 6 out of 10)
I really wish that I can give this a higher rating. I do. I like this little cutter a lot and while I can use it with MTC, I have to mention that it is not recognized as a native plotter in MTC. Although you can cut through MTC with the printer driver, I have to re-configure the print settings every time I open a new MTC session. I also find it challenging to figure out where the cut-zone is. Because there is no Silhouette Virtual Mat in MTC, I find myself guessing where the machine will actually cut the paper. I ended up making most of my cuts on regular printer paper first just to see where the cuts will be. Once I know where the machine makes the actual cuts, I will, without removing the mat, place my color cardstock on it and send the commend to cut again.

5. Cutting Versatility (Rating: 6 out of 10)
This machine cuts vinyl very well and is also able to cut 80lb cover weight cardstock cleanly. Since that is the typical type of paper that I use for my cards, I am happy at what it can cut. However, I had to knock off 2 points in the ratings because it cannot cut chipboard- a material that I do cut occasionally. I deducted another 2 points because it cannot cut wider than 8". While I do not scrapbook nor cut many images larger than 4.25" x 5.5", I like to cut out the different layers in one pass by putting all the required colored cardstock onto a 12"x 12" mat. With the Silhouette's relatively smaller mat, I found myself having to cut the different layers separately instead of all in one pass.

6. Noise Level (Rating: 5 out of 10)
Said it simply, this cutter is pretty loud. ;-)

7.  Availability of Consumables (Rating: 4 out of 10)
This cutter is not available in any of the major craft stores in my area and so are the consumables. I did find many online stores that sells the accessories but I had to pay for shipping and taxes and still have to wait for it to get delivered. No instant gratification. I'm a cheapo and so I also wished I could find the cutter and accessories in Joann's or Michael's just so that I can use a 40% coupon on it. :P

8. Silhouette Online Store (Rating: 5 out of 10)
I like what I see in the Silhouette Online Store, especially the 3D items. Too bad it is too hard to try to use the .studio images outside of Silhouette Studio program. I would definitely have given this a higher rating if I could use those images in MTC.


This marks the conclusion of my Silhouette SD cutter series of reviews. I am still learning about the cutter and the Silhouette Studio software and I'm sure that I will be posting more about this cutter in the near future. To read about my other posts about the Silhouette SD cutter, just click on any of these links:

Cutter 1 of 3: The Silhouette SD (part 1)
The Silhouette SD Review (part 2): Print-and-Cut
The Silhouette SD Review (part3): Cutting with MTC
Spring Break is officially over and the kids go back to school today. Perhaps it is time I break open the box containing the Gazelle...


  1. Good Morning,

    PLEASE work with your Gazelle. I have just ordered one. I would love to see your review for it. This is the first time I will ever be Cricut free and I would love to see if I made the right investment :0)

  2. Thanks Jin for your honest reviews. I don't need a new machine yet, but do want to see how the others work. Like you, I sometimes want to cut every item on one mat....
    I want to be sure when I do order a new cutter it is the one I see fits my needs.

  3. Thank you for all your input Jin! There were a few times I could have easily pressed the buy it now button for this little machine. The price is "do-able" and everytime I looked at how well it cut the little smiley face for the milk carton, I was very much tempted. But the mat size kept me at bay. Thanks for your fantastic review! Can't wait to see the Gazelle. How in the world can you just let those toys sit in a box and wait is beyond me! :) LOL

  4. About the blade cap storage, open the lid to the Silhouette and on the left is a little white "shelf" with two circles on it, that's where your extra blade caps go. It took me forever to figure that out :)


  5. Thank you Jin, your reviews and videos are so clear. Please do review the Gazelle soon as I am thinking that will be my next cutter.

  6. For someone like me who only uses mine to make cards and small projects the Silhouette works great. Actually none of the other points you've made as to the availability of parts etc. deters me either, since I just plan ahead and make sure I have the extra blades, mats etc that I may need. Most large box stores like JoAnns, and Hobby Lobby exclude using 40% coupons on these items anyway.
    I too am very happy with the cutting abilities of the machine and loved the price I paid for it. The software is easy to learn. Overall it's a great machine.

  7. Great review Jin! I can't wait to read the next one!

    Ruthie :)

  8. Great, honest review. I do agree with all your points about this machine. I wish it were completely compatible with MTC because it would be perfect (except for the size issue and the inability to cut chipboard). I am using it for what it does: print and cuts and not a whole lot else at this point. Do you plan to keep all three machines? Is this one a "keeper"?

  9. So, is this the one you recommend most? I recently purchased MTC and haven't even learned to use it yet, so was very disappointed to learn about the troubles between them and provocraft since I was hoping to use the program with my origianl cricut.

  10. Jin, thanks so much for the review. I was thinking about purchasing, but mainly for a print and cut. I'm glad I didn't. I did, however, jump the gun and purchase a Gazelle. I am looking forward to your upcoming review in this regard.
    Thanks again.

  11. Thank you so much for your review I love my Silhouette also I bought it when you started reviewing so I was eager to see what you thought about it. I also have MTC and SCAL. SCAL has sent me an email saying they will have an update soon for the Silhouette so can't wait to see that, its suppose to make it easier to work with the cutter. Thank you so much for your time in sharing.
    P.S. The cutter is very noisy but I usually work with an Ipod so I don't even hear it...hehehehe

  12. Thanks for all the info ... that took a lot of time on your part to give such a concise report and it is really appreciated.

  13. Heather (PisforPaper)!!! Thank you so much for the tip about the storage spot for the blade caps. How come I never noticed that before? I'll add that tip into my post. Thank you!!

  14. Jin, this is a fantastically thorough and honest review. I agree with most of your points. I, too, am just a card maker, so the Silhouette works great for my purposes. I haven't tried the Print and Cut feature yet, but hope to do that soon. I can't wait to hear what you think of the Gazelle! Thank you for your hard work in providing us this great review!

  15. Jin, great review! I like your honesty on the product, definitely hit on some questions I had about the Silhouette and MTC. Can't wait to see the reviews on the G. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  16. I just found your blog recently and I'm loving your reviews of all the machines. Excellent information. Thank you!

  17. Regarding the caps and where to store them...
    Silhouette SD's have two small posts on the left side of the opened machine.
    Two of your caps fit on top of these posts perfectly while the third is being used by the cutter.
    I'm surprised you didn't see those.

    Also, I'm equally surprised as to why you chose a software first rather than a good machine. The machine is by far your biggest investment.

    Actually when you choose a Silhouette you actually get the Silhouette Studio software for FREE and for a free software it can't be beat.

    I hope this comment helps those looking for a cutter.