Hi! I'm Sandy Nall, and I've been papercrafting for about 3 years and I'm a regular ole PaperCrafter's Corner reader 🙂
I recently bought a Cricut Imagine, and I wrote a review of my new Cricut Imagine for The Scrapbook Mafia, an Alabama-based scrapbook group I'm in. Your fearless PaperCrafter's Corner leader, Susan, saw my review & asked if I'd mind sharing it with yall.
Please know that I'm not an expert by any means, and you may find that my opinions and perceptions have some flaws! I've already had to change a couple of things I wrote originally. For what it's worth, here are my observations. Happy scrappin'!
Cricut Imagine Review by Sandy Nall
I got my Imagine a couple of weeks ago, and I've played with it enough to tell you a few things that are different than the Cricut Expression. I hope there are plans to update some of these things, and I know there are plans for the Gypsy to be made compatible, but I thought I'd give you a look at the pros and cons so far.
1. Use & Compatibility: It is pretty easy to start using. The screen is pretty intuitive, but I still had to refer to my manual several times for some functions. At first they advertised that it would work with the Gypsy, but at this point it doesn't. The Imagine's cartridges are much smaller than the Expression's, and the interface cord that comes with the Gypsy doesn't fit the smaller carts. There isn't a port to plug in the Gypsy, either, that I have found. According to some things that have been said, there will be updates to make it possible to use them together in the future. The "old" Cricut cartridges do work with the Imagine; there is a different port interface for the two types, one of each side of the screen area.
2. Mats: You can't cut anything larger than 11 3/4" on the Imagine. It can't use 24" mats at this time. I don't know if that will change with updates or not. You can only use the Imagine mats with it as well. It has some kind of magnetic ink border that helps it keep track of where it is which is not printed on the regular Expression mats. The Imagine mat is not nearly as tacky (sticky) as the Expression mats are, which has made it hard to keep the edges of heavy cardstock firmly adhered. I bought a package of white Bazzill paper which was a recommended purchase with the Imagine, so you would think they would adhere better! I've read a couple of posts on the Cricut forum about it, and it was suggested that you wipe the mat with warm water to see if it would help. This appears to be a widespread problem.
3. Printing: One of the things I do love is the ability to fill in the color or pattern of our regular Cricut cartridges. I used the paper doll cartridge last week to make a "Jesus" figure for my church class. It was so neat to use one of the fill patterns that came with the Imagine to make the material of his robe. It looked like what I imagine the striped material of Bible times might have been. Along the same lines, it is wonderful to just load a piece of white cardstock and cut hair, shoes, clothes and a body all from the same piece of paper by selecting colors and patterns, then cutting, rather than loading different colors of paper for each part. While there is a custom feature that allows you to create your own custom colors like the kind that print programs use, it showed up quite differently on the screen than it did when I printed it at times. One of the disciple's hair turned out dark blue when I was trying for a lighter shade of black! LOL Still, I think it will work nicely after the learning curve.
4. Paper: The Imagine will keep track of the cuts you have made on a piece of paper, allowing you to use all of the sheet. It does, however, have a serious drawback. There are no cursor buttons around the cut button like the Expression has to allow you to move the blade to some other location on the mat. So if you pull out that piece of paper, use a different one, then put the first one back in, you have no way besides cutting it and putting it in the alignment corner to use your scraps later. Now I may not have it figured it out properly yet, but I've read the whole manual and tried to see how to do it, and so far I can't see any way that it could work. Update: I've checked with some more experienced users, and you can't navigate around the mat the way you can the Expression. You can put in a scrap and adjust the size of the paper on the screen so the Imagine will know how big the scrap is.
5. Cutting layers: Another thing I'm having trouble with is figuring out how to cut a single layer of a multiple-layer design. You can separate the layers of the images that come with the Imagine carts and change their colors and patterns fairly easily, and I know it says you can print an individual element or layer, but it isn't easy to figure out, and so far I haven't been able to. So my point is that not everything is as easy to use as they say it is. Update: After going to Pinkstampers.com and watching several videos on You Tube, I've learned that you simply delete the unwanted layers to the left of the cursor. That wasn't in the instructions.
6. Instructions: My Cricut came with 3 DVDs that gave detailed instructions and sample projects on using it. The Imagine just came with a short user manual and a very basic DVD. That's similar to the problem I've had with the Gypsy. It didn't even come with a manual. You had to download one, and there was no DVD. I think they're trying to get their products to market so quickly that that Provo Craft is short-changing us on the instructions. I learned a lot from watching the presentations I'd taped on HSN and MyPinkstamper.com.
7. Size: The Imagine is about twice as wide as the Expression, 5 or 6 inches longer, very heavy, and therefore not easily transported. I am planning to take mine to a crop next weekend so the ladies in the group can see it and try it out, but it isn't practical to take regularly. I'll need help carrying it in, and I doubt I'll take it again. Along the same lines, you need more work room for the Imagine since it is larger.
8. Ink: The ink cartridges are pricey. They run from $34-$39+ for black and color. They are supposed to last for about 120 full pages of print, though, and the ink is archival, supposedly lasting for 120 years. Not only that, but if you try to figure the cost per page, that's much cheaper than the same amount of sheets of designed paper since you can print your own (if you like the patterns you have on your cartridges). Still, you have to first buy the white 12 x 12 paper, so I guess it's worth it!?
9. Calibration: I don't know what color paper you could use to make calibration easier. I used white, but I don't think it would have mattered if I used a different light color. It first prints a pattern of lines and colors, then it prints a vertical then horizontal series of letters, numbers, and black lines, going back and cutting beside them. You then have to select the letter and number from each direction that is the closest cut. It works the same way a printer does when you put a new cartridge in, except you have the tiny cut lines to try to see. I found it very hard to see the lines, even with my glasses and a magnifying glass! It does seem to be cutting pretty well on the lines, but I think I probably need someone with younger eyes to fine tune it.
10. Other users' reviews: I've read many of the 59 pages of reviews on the HSN Imagine page, and there were some very disappointed and frustrated buyers as well as many who were delighted. The ones who were upset had received either damaged boxes or ones that simply did not work. They had to ship them back and were either waiting for new ones, or had given up. Those, like me, whose machines arrived undamaged and worked were happy with our purchases.
Am I glad I bought it, and do I think it will be worth the money? Yes! I'm really excited about the things that it can print and then cut, and I'm sure that it will only get better with time, and so will I as I learn how to use it to its potential. For those of you who own a Silhouette, after a fellow scrapper read my review, she discovered that she could color her images and then cut them out like the Imagine does. Who says we old dogs can't learn new tricks? LOL
I hope this helps those of you who are interested in the Imagine and are thinking about getting one. If you have any questions about features or things I didn't mention, or if I confused you and you want me to clarify something, please ask! Hope everyone is doing well.