I recently caved to the temptation of a great sale on the new Silhouette Cameo 3. I’ve only had it for about 6 days at the time of the writing of this article, but I wanted to share my first impression with you and also a bit of news directly from Silhouette.
Before purchasing, I owned the original Silhouette Cameo for a little over a year. Much of what I will share with you will be a comparison of the 3 to the original model.
I don’t want to repeat basic specifications for you such as dimensions, cutting force, thickness of materials you can cut etc. I also do not plan to do an in-depth explanation of the new features. Instead, I want to focus on what I’ve discovered while actually using the machine.
UPDATES NEEDED RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX
First things first. After unboxing and plugging in the Cameo 3, I had to make sure that my Silhouette Studio software was updated and also I had to install a Firmware update for the machine. You can read more about those at https://www.silhouetteamerica.com and in social media.
Once my updates were done, I was able to setup and use the Bluetooth connection. It has worked fairly well for me so far. I’ve dropped my connection once. I'm reserving final judgment on the functionality of the bluetooth until I have a bit more time with it.
Let’s talk about the physical features of the machine for a moment but first, let me stop here and make a LARGE disclaimer. The information that follows in this section, is based on my prior experience with the Original Silhouette Cameo and also my particular office arrangement. These statements are very much personal opinion and your opinions may differ!
The machine, as you may have read, is a fair bit larger than previous models. The lid covers the entire width of the machine including the display screen. Given that the machine is larger, the lid is also larger. This is just personal preference, but I wish the lid did NOT cover the touchscreen. In my particular setup, I need to be able to close the lid at times in the middle of a cut job and it would be nice if I could still access the touchscreen. More about that in a moment.
Another change with the Cameo 3 is the location of the Power button. Instead of being on top like the original Cameo, it is now on the right hand side near the USB connection port. Again, personal preference and partly due to my particular setup, but I miss having the power button within easy reach on the top face of the machine. I find myself hunting around for the power button by feel now. (Sometimes it's the "little" things that are the biggest annoyance, right?!)
I happen to have a large magnifying lamp. It clamps to the back corner of my desk and has a bendable arm that I like to pull toward me when weeding. With this larger machine and larger lid in the raised position, the arm of my lamp hits the lid. Overall it’s a minor inconvenience, but well, it is inconvenient. In my short time with this machine, I’ve managed to hit the lid with my lamp a few times. So, I’m left to constantly open and close my lid during a crafting session or change my arrangement. I will probably adjust eventually.
SOFTWARE and SETUP
Now, let’s talk about actual cutting. So far, I’ve cut two multi-layer jobs. Right off the bat, I discovered something that I wish were different when setting up for a cut job. As you may know, the Cameo 3 has a dual-carriage. That means that you can use two different tools (blades, sketch pens etc.) during a single job. For Tool 1, the default setting is “Ratchet Blade” and there is currently no way to change that default permanently. You can change it for each cut job but once you close the software, Tool 1 resets to "Ratchet Blade".
Slot 1 is the only place where you can use the new AutoBlade, although you can use other tools in slot 1 as well. My plan is to keep the new AutoBlade in slot one for the foreseeable future, so I would love it if Silhouette Studio would allow you to change that default permanently (or at least until you decide otherwise). So, as it stands, you will need to select the appropriate tool each time you open your software. Big deal? Not major but, an inconvenience that could be avoided with a little software updating. The good news? I emailed Silhouette regarding this (and the issue discussed below) and I was told that software updates are in progress which will address this one! Yipee!!!
AUTOBLADE AND REPEAT CUT JOBS
As I continued to cut, the next issue that I noticed was related to the AutoBlade. Each time you send a new cut job to the Cameo 3, the AutoBlade will go through the reset routine, EVEN IF you did not change any of your cut settings. Again, this is not the end of the world but it does add extra time and extra wear and tear on the machine as it makes the movements required to adjust the blade.
I had a brain wave and before giving up, I tested out one other theory I had. Once you finish a cut job and load up your next mat/media for cutting, you will notice that the Cameo 3 gives you an option on the display screen called “Repeat Job”. I wondered if using this option instead of sending a duplicate job from my software might eliminate the blade reset. Unfortunately, it did not.
I can understand that each time you power up the Cameo 3 OR each time you use new cut settings, the blade will need to adjust. It would, however, be nice if the software could recognize situations where no changes have been made since the last cut job and skip the “tap tap tap” adjustment routine in those cases. Just my two cents worth. According to the email I received, this feature is here to stay.
Overall the Cameo 3 is a very nice cutting machine, however, the Bluetooth is not a huge attraction for me. Yes, it is nice to have one less cord to find and plug in, but that alone is not enough to win me over. Given the larger size taking up more of my coveted desk space, the larger lid causing me issues with my beloved lamp, the cutting issues mentioned above, and the harder-to-find power button, I’m left with only the dual-carriage setup to love I do like the ability to use two different tools in a single job. That is, in my opinion, the most winsome feature of the new Cameo 3.
At this point, I have to be honest and say that knowing what I know now, coupled with the fact that I already owned a perfectly good Silhouette Cameo, I probably would not purchase the Cameo 3 again. If I did purchase, I would at the very least, wait longer to see if things smooth out a little with software and firmware updates. This is my own humble opinion. If I had not already owned a Silhouette Cameo, then the Cameo 3 would probably rank a little higher on my list.
So, I find myself looking forward to the next version of the Silhouette Cameo and hoping that it includes some updates that we did not see this time, such as the ability to cut with more force (so even thicker materials could be cut or engraved). I would also love to see a wider cut area in the future. A girl can always dream, right?
To wrap up, here is a summary of my own personal list of pros and cons to the Cameo 3, especially in comparison to the original Cameo that I was using before.
- Larger size including lid takes up valuable “real estate” on my desk, but does not offer more cutting width.
- Display screen is covered by lid making it less versatile to use.
- Location of power button is not as convenient.
- Inability to change the default tool in Silhouette Studio software. (Keep in mind that this will likely change in the future).
- AutoBlade reset in between cut jobs even when settings have not changed.
1. Dual-carriage allows you to do two different tasks during a single job.
I hope at least you’ve learned a couple of things that you didn’t know before and are better equipped to make your own decision about purchasing the Cameo 3. We would love to hear your feedback and comments. Will you buy the new Cameo 3 or do you own it now? Send us your thoughts!
Until next time, Keep Kuttin' !