Awhile back, I promised to give my opinion on the new Cricut Craft Room program over on Cricut.com.
I am sorry that I haven't posted anything on it until now, mostly because I have been using it quite a bit to make sure I can give a thorough review.
In general, I really like the Craft Room so far and I am excited about some of its possibilities in the future. I already have a Gypsy, and I love it too, but I use them in different situations and for different reasons.
Here are some Pros & Cons of the Craft Room as I see it:
--It is FREE!
--As with the Design Studio software and the Gypsy, the Craft Room allows you to weld letters and images together so they cut as one piece. There are still times that you'll want individual letters, but one-piece words make more sense most of the time.
--The Craft Room allows you to create mulitple layers for each project. This is an important feature if you want to shadow welded words or make layered projects like word books. This is also a feature of the Gypsy and the Design Studio.
--You can save projects indefinitely and use them over and over, if you wish. For example, teachers can design name tags once but personalize and cut new ones each year.
--Just like the Gypsy, I love that you can see ALL of the cartridges that Cricut makes and preview ALL of the images on each cartridge. I always tell my students not to judge a cartridge by the back of the box, and to do some research first. The Craft Room is a great way to do your cartridge research before you buy. You can even design projects -- you just can't cut the design until you have the cartridge.
--Unlike the Gypsy, you can borrow a friend's cartridge, design a project on the Craft Room and cut it out on your Cricut. The physical cartridge just needs to be in the machine when you go to cut with the Craft Room.
--The future of the Craft Room is one of its biggest advantages. Cricut has already begun to sell digital versions of its older cartridges, as well as sell digital images that you can only use with the Craft Room. There are already cutable images available for purchase in the Craft Room such as Jewish holidays, the human body, and 3-D pinwheels. And they seem to add new ones all the time.
Wow, that is a lot of PROS for the Craft Room. Now let's look at some CONS.
--One of the Craft Room's major drawbacks is that it is a computer-based program. If you want to use it, you will need a computer. And if you want to take it to a crop, you will need a portable computer.
--Besides needing a computer, you also will need constant Internet access. That may not seem like a big deal for most people, but large areas of rural America still don't have easy access to the strong broadband Internet required to use the Craft Room.
--If you already have a Gypsy or the Design Studio software, the Craft Room duplicates many of the features that the other two offer. Plus, the Gypsy is portable and doesn't require Internet access. But, as the Craft Room grows in popularity, I doubt that Cricut will continue to support the Design Studio with support and updates.
So, as for my recommendation: if you have a newer computer with Internet access, then I suggest giving the Craft Room a try -- even if you have a Gypsy or Design Studio. It will probably be the future for most Cricut users and you will probably really like it.
For those of you who would like a guided lesson on the Craft Room, stay tuned to my blog as I will be offering classes on it, in my home, in 2012!