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The Explore Air 2 is a desktop pattern cutter from Cricut, one of a long line of multirole machines for the textile arts.
It uses the Cricut cartridge system and is compatible with all earlier cartridges. A double-tool carriage allows for faster or more intricate designs, depending on what mode is selected.
Like many Cricut machines, the Explore Air 2 works on the Design Space software system, meaning that it will require both a computer and an internet connection to operate. Designs can also be entered by Bluetooth connection.
Design Space is continually upgraded by Cricut cand comes with everything needed to put together a striking pattern in your computer or mobile device. Cricut’s servers provide storage for your own designs and a slew of ideas to get you started.
Many users report that the software included is a basic version only, and will require a paid upgrade to access the full range of features it offers.
The cutting aperture is relatively small but can process more than a hundred materials, from the classics such as fabric and paper to more unusual things like leather and foam. A Smart Set dial ensures that your Explore Air 2 will write, score, or cut perfectly no matter which one you choose.
Cricut has included a longer-lasting carbide blade with the Explore Air 2, making for less repair or replacement and allowing an even cleaner cut than yielded by the usual stylus blades.
Who’s It For
The Explore Air 2 is a great choice for someone serious about the hobby but still looking to save where they can. Available for a little over two hundred dollars, it keeps on the lower end of the market while still offering impressive performance for all manner of projects.
A smaller cutting aperture makes the Explore Air 2 unsuitable for larger projects or pieces of material, and those with more experience or broader designs could find the Cricut design software too basic for their particular needs.
The need for an accompanying computer or other device may be a turn-off for those who prefer to work by hand. As it is electric and intended as a stationary device, the Explore Air 2 is not for those without an outlet in their craft area.
What We Like About Explore Air 2
For a digital pattern cutter, it is extremely economical, available for less than two hundred fifty dollars.
Compatibility with other Cricut cartridges is a huge plus, sparing the user from needing to buy additional supplies. Some Cricut tools can also be interchanged between machines if you have another model already.
Since it is intended to become a fixture of a craft area or work desk, Cricut offers this machine in four colors to match with its surroundings. Explore Air 2 is available in shades of green, pink, blue, and gold.
There is no denying the speed and precision the machine offers; the Explore Air 2 can cut, score, or write twice as fast as older machines in Fast Cut mode. A smart setting allows it to detect the thickness of the material being used and select the best speed and pressure automatically.
Internet or Bluetooth means that you don’t need to babysit the Explore Air 2 either; patterns can be sent from a Cricut cloud account to the machine remotely. The Design Space software lets a user finish their patterns on the go and start them as soon as they get home.
What We Don’t Like About Explore Air 2
The main complaint from many users is the Design Space software; experienced crafters find it too basic for their needs, and newcomers can get confused by the proprietary interface. There is also a monthly charge for an upgraded or cloud account that could put off all but a regular or dedicated hobbyist.
Although many older tools are still usable with the Explore Air 2, Cricut has begun to switch to a cartridgeless design that may see many parts phased out.
There is no rotary blade, a serious drawback for anyone cutting multiple layers at once.
The machine itself, all needed cables, Design Space software, a twelve-inch square cutting mat, the stylus blade, marking pen, guidebook, and a portfolio of sample ideas, images, and materials to get started.
Not included are some more tools, especially a rotary blade.
Overview Of Features
Explore Air 2 stands nine and a half inches tall, measuring twenty-four long by nine and a half wide. It weighs in at an even fourteen pounds.
The stylus blade is German-made carbide steel, giving it an unusual resilience and precision through tougher materials ‒ handy for those looking for leather or foil crafting.
Design Space, Cricut’s proprietary software, uses the same accounts that have powered previous machines. Experienced users may find the features somewhat limited in capability, but they provide a fine base for newcomers and have hundreds of preloaded ideas and images to get you started.
Most Cricut cartridges and tools are compatible with this machine, and there is an adapter to allow for an expanded toolset.
Cutting width can vary depending on the browser and software used, with significant differences between such programs as Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. The maximum cutting size possible is eleven and a half inches from side to side.
As a first digital cutter, this is a fine choice, both economical and versatile in the extreme. The software requirements make it more suitable for those planning to make a long-term hobby; less frequent users are likely to find the subscription and desk space troublesome in the long run.