This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
We often get people who join Cricut Explore, Maker and More to get advice on which machine to buy. I’m going to do my best to answer this question briefly but thoroughly. These are my opinions, but I think you’ll find most of us who have been using Cricuts since the “Baby Bug” agree. (My comments below are about the currently available machines. All the current models use the same free web-based software, which is Design Space.)
The Cricut Maker is the top of the line, and the one I recommend getting if you can possibly afford it. Without getting too deep into the very advanced technology, the adaptive tool system makes the Maker more versatile than any previous machine. The recently released knife blade and scoring wheel tools have added even more functionality. I am primarily a paper crafter, and the scoring wheel is an absolute dream. It gives a crisp fold line in a single pass.The knife blade can easily cut balsa wood and mat board. If you sew or quilt, the Maker cuts fabric without stabilizer using the rotary blade.
You can read more about the differences between the Explore Series and the Maker here.
That said, if you are an occasional crafter who only needs a machine a few times a year for holiday gifts or scrapbook retreats, the Explore Air and the Explore Air 2 are excellent machines at a more affordable price point. The Explore Air 2 offers a fast mode for certain materials and a wider variety of colors than the Explore Air. The Explore Air is becoming harder to find in stores but is available online from JOANN or from Consumer Crafts.
The last machine currently available is the Explore One. It’s not a bad machine, but the Air and Air 2 aren’t that much more expensive and are a better value in my opinion. The Explore One doesn’t have the dual carriage head, which is really convenient if you use the writing or scoring features. Plus, the Explore One requires a separate Bluetooth adapter to be used with a mobile device, and when you add the adapter, it’s the same price as the Explore Air.
The above post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.