I saw the Cricut Expression live and in person (it differs from a normal Cricut in that it can cut 12" wide whereas the standard Cricut only cut 6" wide) a few weeks ago at my scrapbook retreat. I loved it! I was all set to ask for one for Mother's Day. THEN I started doing some research...
I came across the Silhouette SD (not sure how it differs from the original Silhouette - I can't find much information about it and it doesn't seem to be available any longer). Oh me, oh my, I found my new die cut machine!!
The Silhouette website has a great chart that compares the features and capabilities of the SD to the original Cricut (the 6" version) and the Cricut Expression. You can find it here.
Here's a breakdown from my vantage point (I plan to use my machine for not only scrapbooking, but crafting also):
Silhouette: NO CARTRIDGES REQUIRED!!!!! This machine connects to your computer and can print any image or font saved to your PC (PCs only right now. Sorry Mac users!). It can cut any true type font (.ttf) already on your computer. For me, that's well over 1000 fonts! (I won't tell you the exact number. It might frighten you. Yes, I'm a bit of a font ho.) The machine comes with 50 shapes. You can purchase more shapes as needed from the Silhouette website for $1.99 each, but seriously people, you know there are ways around that. Its called free clipart, and its all over the web! Surely you can find a simple shape somewhere so that you won't have to pay for it. You can always draw your own shapes, too, and use those.
Also, the Silhouette can act as a printer. Not only that, but you can tell it to print AND cut an image. It prints first, and as it does so it makes small tick marks that tell it where to go back and cut it. It also can cut fabric and vinyl.
Cost: retails for ~$249
Cut size: 1/4" to 8" shapes and fonts
Max cut width: 8"
Max cut length: 39"
Weight: 4.5 lbs (gotta keep that in mind for crops!)
Main disadvantage: You must have your PC if you want to use the Silhouette.
Cricut Expression: Requires cartridges, and they aren't cheap! Regularly $69.99 each, but if you wait for a sale you can get them for half that. The machine does come with about 75 shapes. You can not print images from your computer. You can purchase the Design Studio which is a program for your computer that allows you to arrange your shapes and fonts from your cartridges all at one time on a faux cutting map on your computer screen (again, for PC users only) which could save paper and help from printing one shape at a time as you normaly would.
You can also get drawing pens for the Cricut, but I don't think it will draw AND cut an image. It will also cut vinyl and fabric.
Cost: retails for $249
Cut size: 1/4" to 11.5"
Max cut width: 11.5"
Max cut length: 24"
Weight: 20 lbs
Main disadvantage: Must have a cartidge to cut images.
So you may think the Cricut is more your style. Me, I'm going for the Silhouette! But I'm a very computer oriented person. I have literally thousands of image and thousands of fonts stored on my computer. I'm very friendly with my drawing program and am pretty sure I can make any image I don't already have. For this kind of cost, I definitely want a machine that is most compatible to me!
Okay, let's hear it... Do you have either of these machines? What do you love/hate about it?? I'd love to hear about it!
Edit!!!! After Alison mentioned the Sure Cuts a Lot 2 (which I had never heard of!!), I had to go do some research on it. Its too good to be true! You can use the Cricut to cut fonts and shapes stored on your computer! AND its compatible with PCs and Macs. You can read more about the program here. I think my decision just became a little more difficult...