Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Comparison of Cricut Expression and Cricut Mini

I've been a Cricut owner since 2007, and I currently own four machines:  the original Expression, the Mini, the Cake Mini, and the Gypsy.  My first Cricut was the original "baby Bug," and my most recent addition is the Mini.  Unfortunately, three of the machines that I have are no longer being manufactured.  The original Expression, the Cake machines, and the Gypsy have all been discontinued by ProvoCraft.  They have been replaced by the new Mini and Expression 2.  I was thinking about getting a Mini to take with me to crops and friends' houses; so when I met one of the PC representatives at Maker Faire this past September, I was thrilled when he said that he would like to send me a Mini to review for ScrapJazz!  First I'll compare the two machines, and then I'll give you my opinion on the Mini.

Both machines:
  • are manufactured by ProvoCraft.
  • are electronic.
  • cut in the same manner with a blade assembly that moves along a carriage.
  • require mats to carry your cutting material through the machine.
  • can use cartridges to cut shapes, letters, and numbers.
  • The Expression uses 12" x 12" and 12" x 24" mats; the Mini uses 9" x 12" mats.
  • The Mini (5.5 lbs.)  weighs much less than the Expression (12.6 lbs.), and it is considerably smaller than its larger predecessor.
  • The dimensions of the Expression are:  21.25"W, 7"H, 7.5"D.
  • The dimensions of the Mini are:   16.1" W, 7.3" D, 3.69" H.
  • The Mini is portable, but the Expression was not intended to be a portable machine.
  • The Expression can be used independent of a computer or other device; however, the Mini must be used in conjunction with either a computer or the Cricut Gypsy (which is no longer being manufactured).
  • The speed, pressure, and blade depth can be manually adjusted on the Expression.  With the Mini, the pressure and blade depth can be manually adjusted, but the speed must be set either in Cricut Craft Room (ProvoCraft's online design program) or on the Gypsy.
  • If you are using the Expression as a stand-alone machine, you need to use the keypad overlays with it.  The Mini doesn't have a place for the overlays, because they aren't used with it.
  • The Expression, which is no longer being manufactured, is not compatible with Cricut Craft Room.  The Mini is not compatible with Cricut Design Studio, a program that is essentially a predecessor of Cricut Craft Room.
  • The Expression has been available in other colors, but the Mini is available in only the standard "Cricut white and green."
Although the Mini is much smaller than the Expression, this little machine is a powerhouse.  I found that I was able to cut the same materials that I cut on the Expression with the same precision.  The mini is a little quieter during operation, but not much.  (I don't find the Expression that noisy either.)  It's very lightweight and easy to transport, and its design is sleek and simple.  The 8 ½" x 12" cutting mat is a good size for most projects.
There are some drawbacks to the Mini, though.  First, it doesn't seem to be as sturdy as its larger predecessor. It also squeaks sometimes when it's cutting, which made me a little nervous at first.  The Mini is a little slower than the Expression, and it sounds as if the motor is straining.  That could just be because I'm used to the sounds the Expression makes, but it did take some getting used to.  If you don't have a Gypsy, which, as I mentioned before, has been discontinued, you must use the Mini with a computer.  This could be a hindrance to its portability.
Overall, I think the Cricut Mini is well worth its cost, and I would definitely recommend purchasing it if you want a smaller, portable die-cutting machine.  It will never take the place of my Expression, but it is a welcome addition to my Cricut family.

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