Cricut Explore vs Cricut Explore Air – What’s the difference?

Cricut Explore vs Cricut Explore Air – What’s the difference

Not too long ago, the Cricut Explore Air was released, and it seemed to have created some buzz. So, what’s really the difference between the Cricut Explore and the Cricut Explore Air?

Well, not much, unfortunately. That’s not to say that the machines aren’t good machines. They are, and you can read the Cricut Explore Review. But I think some of us were expecting something more.

Cricut Explore Air

Amazon Price

According to Provo Craft, the only difference is the Cricut Explore Air has built-in wireless capabilities. The Cricut Explore does have Bluetooth capabilities, but an adapter must be purchased separately.

Here is what Provo Craft had to say about the differences:

The Explore and Explore Air only have one difference. The Cricut Explore Air™ comes with a built-in Bluetooth® and does not require the Cricut Explore® Wireless Bluetooth® Adapter. The Explore requires the Bluetooth® Adapter to connect via Bluetooth® to cut wirelessly.

If you have the Cricut Explore Air, you don’t have to use the wireless. It still has a USB connection to hook directly to the computer.

This means, if you have the external Bluetooth adapter for the Cricut Explore, you can do everything that the Cricut Explore Air can do.

Cricut Explore Wireless Bluetooth Adapter

Cricut Explore Wireless Bluetooth Adapter

Well, this isn’t technically the only difference. The Cricut Explore Air does come in a nice looking blue, so if you don’t like the green, you do have more options.

What’s the advantages of going wireless?

If your wondering if you should go wireless with the Cricut Explore, there are a couple advantages. For one, it means less wires and greater portability. Have you wanted to move the machine but the cord wasn’t long enough? Or put the machine on a shelf? Or even have the machine be in the next room over? Well, that’s what you can do with wireless.

Another awesome thing you can do with the wireless Bluetooth is use it with your iPad (iPad 2 and newer). And, according to Provo Craft, they are working hard to create an app for Android users as well.

If you are looking for the Cricut Explore App, you can download it from iTunes.

Cricut Explore iPad App

Cricut Explore iPad App

Should you upgrade? And which machine should you buy?

If you have the Cricut Explore already, I would not recommend upgrading. If you want the wireless feature, save some money and buy the Cricut Wireless Adapter.

If you are deciding between the two machines, the Explore Air is nice, but you may be able to save some money by buying the Cricut Explore and purchasing the wireless adapter separately.

Amazon Price

Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

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82 Comments

  1. judy belrose

    I just bought a cricut explore.. it was only $179.. the wireless adaptor is $49 .. on sale the explore air was $249.. so even if I decide to buy that later it will be a savings. I dont really know why anyone would buy the Air if you can get all the advantages for less money.

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Glad to hear it Judy! We agree, the Cricut Explore with the adapter is a much better bargin. The machine seems to be discontinued from Cricut’s website, but you can still buy it from some vendors.

      Reply
      1. CDJ

        I don’t think the adapter gives you wireless capabilities, only Bluetooth. Be certain before you buy. Big difference between bluetooth and wireless.

        Reply
        1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

          Well, wireless Bluetooth 🙂 But yes, people should be aware the technology uses Bluetooth. Thanks CDJ!

          Reply
    2. CGG

      Hi, Judy! Where’d you purchase your Cricut Explore? All prices I’ve found were $200+.

      Reply
  2. Melanie Pralle

    I purchased the explore one from HSN, but as a new user didn’t realize the difference was that the air has two arms, one for the pen and one for the cutter. I wish that had been better explained because now I’m limited as to what I can do with this cricut. Is there a way to add another arm to the one?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Melanie, unfortunately, you cannot add a second carriage to the Cricut Explore One. Sorry that you purchased the wrong machine!

      Reply
    2. Lorraine

      Hi Melanie, I just bought an Explore One. You can use a pen with it by inserting it into a special Explore One adapter. The adapter then goes into the arm that holds the blade. The scoring stylus also fits into this adapter. Unfortunately, you have to switch back and forth between the blade and the pen or stylus, but at least the machine has the capabilities of writing and scoring so you’re not as limited as you thought. It’s not as convenient, but it’s not as expensive, either.

      Reply
  3. nina

    I saw on amazon the air can cut and print in one step and the explore doesn’t it requires a 2 step process please help as looking to get a one soon

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Nina, the both the Explore and Explore Air can cut and print in one step. The Explore and Explore Air are exactly the same, except the Air has built in wireless. The Explore One however is a two step process because it only has on carriage instead of two.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions!

      Reply
      1. Zae

        Umm, everything I’m reading says there’s an Explore One and an Explore Air. Nothing about a plain Explore that has Air’s capabilities minus the wireless. So, I am now very confused. Any info on this?

        Reply
        1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

          Hi Zae! The plain Explore is no longer being made, but you can still find it in some stores. Hope this helps!

          Reply
  4. Q.Barnwell

    Hi,
    I was looking into purchasing a the Explore, but I see that the Explore Air allows you to cut and write in one step. Is that a big deal or I should be fine with the Explore?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Q.Barnwell, both the Cricut Explore and Cricut Explore Air machines cut and write in one step. The Cricut Explore One however has only one carriage head so it can’t.

      Reply
  5. Tiffany

    When I want to buy a new cricut I wait until the holiday season…crazy good sales start to happen.

    Reply
    1. J Libby

      Hi tiffany,
      What stores will have these machines on sale? I”m looking to buy one, but don’t want to pay full price (who does right?). With black friday coming in a few weeks, I figured if I wait until then, then I could hopefully save money. Do these machines go on sale for black friday? If so, where (what stores) would I find these sales?

      Reply
  6. jackie fogle

    I was looking to buy cricut explorer but I don’t understand where the overlay goes on the new machine thanks Jackie Cincinnati ohio

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Jackie, thanks for the question! I am not sure what you mean by overlay? Could you describe it or maybe provide a picture of what you mean?

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        I think she means that rubber clear thing that came with older style cartridges… You laid it onto the ‘buttons’ spot on the machine like the Expression. So you knew what to press-

        Reply
        1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

          That makes sense, thank you!

          Reply
    2. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Jackie, if you mean the overlay for the buttons that existed in the older machines like the Expression 1 and 2, the Explore machines don’t use an overlay. Cartridges can plug into the Explore machines, but the cartridges get linked to your online account, where everything is done through the software, which is why there are no buttons. Hope this makes sense.

      Reply
  7. Elizabeth

    I purchased my cricut explore from hobby lobby on sale for $125, and bought an adapter on Amazon for $25. It only cost me $150 and a cricut air is $299

    Reply
  8. Kelli

    I’m looking into purchasing one of the Cricut Explores (haven’t decided on model yet). Here are a few questions I need answered…

    1. Do you need an apple product (laptop/iPad) to use the design center? Or is there software that I can install on my HP laptop?

    2. Is it easy to download all of my current cricut cartridges into the design center so I can continue to use them?

    3. Am I able to save an image from say Google, and the Explore will cut it?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Kelli!

      1. The Cricut software is actually an online software, and it works with Windows and Mac.

      2. Linking your cartridges will be easy. We made some instructions to help you 🙂 https://personaldiecutting.com/how-to-link-cartridges-with-the-cricut-explore/

      3. Yep, you can find images from google and import them into the Design Space software. You can upload and cut .svg, .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, and .dxf files.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  9. Ray

    Since the Explore One has only one carriage, if I want to alternate from printing and cutting, will I have to manually install approapriate parts each time I want to print and cut? Will this be an inconvenient process?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Ray! Switching between printing and cutting is a manual process, but it is very easy. All you do is remove the blade holder and insert the pen you wish to draw with. That’s it! Hope that helps!

      Reply
  10. E

    I am wondering if the pens purchased for the Explore can also be used in the Explore Air? A 3 day owner of a Cricut Explore Air.
    Mant thanks.
    E

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi E, yes they can! All the blades and pens for the Explore machine work in the Explore Air.

      Reply
  11. Kris

    I’m looking into starting my own planner sticker business. I see that the Cricut prints and cuts. I’m curious how it prints: I see that it prints with “pens”, but how would this translate for stickers? Stickers tend to be multi-color and have gradients, as well. Suffice it to say they are not mono-color. How would this work? Thanks very much!

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Kris, I don’t know if this will work with the types of stickers you are working with, but the Explore does have a Print Then Cut feature. This feature will let you print from your normal printer, then you can cut them out with the Explore. Here is a video of how it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RBM1TUNzuY

      Reply
  12. shanan williams

    I am wondering if with the Explore Air or Explore if I can upload my own design and it cut it. Not one that I have drawn, but if I want to scan a picture, will it cut it?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Shanan, it might work if you can scan the picture, then print and cut it out using the Print and Cut feature. This isn’t really ideal since you would need to print out the image that you already have.

      There are a couple machine that will do a better job. The Silhouette Cameo allows you to take pictures of designs with a camera and then upload the picture to the computer. The machine will then know how to cut it. Another machine, the Brother ScanNCut actually comes with a built-in scanner, which might be what you are looking for.

      Reply
  13. Jill

    I just upgraded and bought Cricut Explore Air because I was excited about the wireless connection. Unfortunately, I just discovered my PC does not have Bluetooth capability. Is there anything I can do to add it?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Jill, you could try a usb blue tooth adapter like this one on Amazon http://amzn.to/210kZCn. Make sure it’s compatible with your PC before purchasing.

      Reply
  14. Rachel

    I’m debating between the cricut explore and the air. I read a few reviews and it sounds like you can’t use cartridges or use the machine (air) at all unless you have Internet connection. Would it actually be better then to purchase the cricut explore bc you would have both options (to use a cartridge or not to use one)? Please advise.

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Rachel, all the Cricut Explores machines (Cricut Explore, Explore Air, and Explore One) require an internet connection to operate. All the machines can use cartridges, but you must first link them to your online account.

      Reply
  15. Robin

    If I have a subscription to the craft room with my Expression machine, is it good for design studio also with the Explorer?

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Too bad no one answered this question, I’ve been looking all over for an answer.

      Reply
    2. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Robin, I believe the subscription would be good for both the Craft Room and Design Studio, but I would contact Cricut to be 100% sure.

      Reply
  16. Jillian

    I’ve been comparing the three machines all morning trying to get the best bang for my buck (I’ve never owned a Cricut machine so it’s all new to me). The Cricut website boasts how the Explore One and Explore Air can “upload and cut your own images and fonts” but didn’t say that the Explore can do this. Is this one main difference other than the wireless capability or does the Explore allow this as well?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Jillian, all three Cricut Explores use the same software, so you will be able to upload and cut your own images and fonts with the Explore machine as well.

      Reply
  17. Gin

    I’m new to these cutting machines and ready to purchase one, I’m a graphic designer and would like some freedom to create my own art in say photoshop, then import them into circuit. I’ve read reviews that the images are pixelated or low res. Is that true?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Gin, I don’t have the answer to your question. If you find out, let us know 🙂

      Reply
  18. Wanda

    I just purchase the beginner’s DVD for the Circut machine to assist a new comer to the Circut family,but what the DVD explain is the older models and not the Curcut Air. I am more confuse about the Circut machine then before. Is there a DVD or a better guide to help a new comer like myself, to learn the basic steps.

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Wanda, I would look at some youtube videos. Goodluck!

      Reply
    2. Felicia

      I just bought the Explore Air and the information that came with suggested going to http://www.cricut.com/setup.

      Reply
  19. Regina

    I just bought a circuit explore one, I want to cut a 5 to 7 mil vinyl, will the explore one cut a vinyl this thick? Will I have to buy a different blade? Thanks for any help! Regina

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Regina, I can’t say for sure, but using a German carbide blade with the double cut setting might help.

      Reply
  20. Deanna

    Hi I received my circuit for Christmas it the explore air from Michaels but then I looked in Amazon and it was on sale . So I ordered that one but when it came the bottom is blue and the same product from Michele’s the bottom is green other then that the boxes look the same and both say circuit explore air. So I am wondering the difference?
    Also do u have any helpful tips or website or book for first time users?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Denna, the green one is the Original Cricut Explore, and the blue one is the Cricut Explore Air. “Air” just means wireless. The blue one has built in wireless. That’s the only difference.

      I would join some facebook groups and watch youtube videos to help you get started. Enjoy!

      Reply
  21. Leslie Johnson

    Hi! I received an Expore Air for Christmas and am just really getting around to using it. I purchased the Everyday Fonts cartridge to use. I am able to get it to link, but unable to find the fonts anywhere. I see the everyday fonts listed in the scroll down but they each say $4.99. Could anyone assist in helping me find these fonts and do I need the keypad overlay?? THANKS

    Reply
  22. Lisa fernandez

    I just started looking into getting a Circut, what’s the difference between the air and the gold machines

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Lisa, the Gold Cricut Explore Air is the same machine as the Green Cricut Explore Air. The gold is just a different color.

      Reply
    2. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Lisa, the Gold edition is the same as the Explore Air, except it comes with Anna Griffin content. The machines themselves are exactly the same.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  23. Brianne

    Can I use the Explore Air from my iphone 6splus?

    Reply
  24. Gwen

    If I was going to purchase one of the explore machines ( explore, explore air or explore gold). Which would do you recommend?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Gwen, there is little difference between the machines. The Explore Air is the same as the Explore except with built in wireless. I believe the gold is exactly the same as the Explore Air but comes in a different color.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
    2. Felicia

      I just bought the Explore Air and the information that came with suggested going to http://www.cricut.com/setup.

      Reply
  25. Khadijah Morrow

    Thank you for the information. It was very useful. I am starting a greeting either machine business. Sometime I just want to cut my card stock into A2 size cards. Will either machine emboss ?

    Reply
  26. Marylyn

    Wish one is the best to buy explore. One or explore air

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      I want one that u can download decal an print it after

      Reply
    2. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Marylyn, if you are willing to spend the extra money, I would go with the Explore Air, as it’s more versatile.

      Reply
  27. Marylyn

    Can they both download decal an cut it or copy it to save it

    Reply
  28. Zahra

    Hi am looking at starting a business selling personalized name labels and iron on clothing transfer. I will be designing my own images. Since am new to this,Im researching on what equipment to buy to print and cut out on vinyl adhesive paper and iron on fabrics. Is the explore air or cameo suited for my need. Thank you so much for the detailed replies to all queries.

    Reply
  29. Miriam

    Hello,
    Question In the cricut Air once you are subscribed to the 1 year air design are you able to keep the images?
    Or is this only during your 1 year subscription?
    Also can you buy images to keep forever?

    Reply
  30. Lynn

    I have an Cricut Expression and recently bought an Explore Air. Is there any reason to keep the Expression? I don’t have a lot of room so only having one machine would help me save space. However, I don’t want to give up the ability to make something that I couldn’t make on the Explore Air. Thanks.

    Reply
  31. Lori

    Your comparison is very helpful. However, it sounds like the explore one is a step down from the explore one (two arms vs.one arm) but the explore is no longer for sale. Any suggestions? The wireless in my house isn’t great so I only see frustrations with the Air.

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Lori, the Cricut Explore Air works on Bluetooth, but if that is a problem, you can still use a USB cord. Hope that helps.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Thank you for answering my question. The cricut website says it works with ipad….will it work with my Samsung tablet as well?

        Reply
  32. Bilinda

    I’m wanting to buy a cricut, but I do not have access to internet all the time. I would be able to periodically. Do I have to have internet while operating the explore or explore air, or can I download what I want and cut later? I’ve never used a cricut, so I don’t know anything about them.

    Reply
  33. Chelsey

    I see that we can no longer purchase the Cricut Explore. If I buy the machine from someone who is selling it. Can you still use all of the features and will it still connect by using the adapter to the cricut and use it online while using the cricut craftroom?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Chelsey, I am not 100% sure but I think you if you bought the machine from someone else and have your own Cricut Craftroom account, it should still work. I would double check with Cricut Support to make sure.

      Reply
  34. Vanessa

    Thanks so much for the article, this was really helpful! I curious if you or any other cricut users can give me their opinion. I have the option to buy a used Explore or a new explore one for essentially the same price. I have the tendency to want the new product but it seems like the explore one may not be as great as the explore. Is there any reason to not buy a used machine? After reading your article I feel like the Explore is a better or more convenient machine but I have never used a cricut so I am afraid my lack of knowledge will get me the wrong machine.

    Reply
  35. rhonmur

    With Design Space software, can I use True Type Fonts (TTF) already loaded to my computer to make lettering or am I limited to what is in the Software only? I have design software for my embroidery machine that converts any TTF into stitches.

    Just wondering about versatility.

    Reply
  36. Lynn Days

    Hey, need help deciding which machine to purchase, and which is easier to operate.

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Lynn, the original Cricut Explore is discontinued (although you can still buy it). I would go with the Cricut Explore Air.

      Reply
  37. Helene

    I bought my cricket about 10 years ago
    Used it for making signs and posters
    Now am retired and was planing to start back scrap booking
    What do I need to do to update my cricut or can I

    Reply
  38. Donna Contreras

    Does my Explore work with computers? I’m having such a hard time figuring out how big/small the images will be. I heard that using the computer screen is the way to go.. I’ve had my circuit now for a few years and have no clue how to use it.. I’ve tried so many times and just get frustrated..
    I need all the help I can get. I’ve watched u-tube videos too…

    Thanks
    Donna

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Donna, all the Explore machines require a computer!

      Reply
  39. Faye Stratton

    just purchased a new in box CRICUT Explorer /with adapter. Have a laptop….wifi…Bluetooth. Interested in cutting fabric. I am a quilter. Any DVDS or suggestions for instruction? So green that I don’t know if I need special blades. Reading about craftroom subscription. Would this be helpful to me to cut pieces for quilting? Any advice is welcome. Seasoned crafter….just totally new to me. Faye

    Reply
  40. ronnie

    hi I was given a air machine I have read a lot of question from other users is this a good machine to have and do I need the adapter I do not know what to do if you can give me some help I would be greatful

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Ronnie, yes the Cricut Explore Air is a fine machine. The wireless adapter is not needed. Here is a quick little overview for Cricut https://personaldiecutting.com/getting-started-with-cricut/

      Reply

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