Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Cricut Imagine and the eCraft. What does it tell us?

Lysa, one of the followers of this blog, asked me if I could comment on the rumored Cricut Imagine.  My answer to her is that I am even MORE clueless about the Cricut Imagine than I am about the eCraft or the Gazelle.

But, hey!  That hasn't been much of a road block so far.  So, why not give it a try.

I am as excited about the rumored features of the Cricut Imagine as I am about the rumored features of the eCraft.  And, that is because I have learned that improvements of any kind from any manufacturer in a certain niche end up being good for everyone.

I have been an "early adopter" of technology for a long, long time.  And, I have been a real fan of some of the products and manufacturers along the way.  But, I learned early on that while it's OK to be a FAN, it is very short-sighted to be a LOYAL FAN.  The manufacturer and product that meets my needs today might not be the manufacturer or product that meets my needs tomorrow.  I want the best fit for my particular needs and that means keeping my options open.

There will be blogs that are all gaga over the Cricut Imagine's breakthrough innovation as if it came out of the blue.  But, innovation is inevitable and ideas are never created in a vacuum.  That's why toy manufacturers virtually never accept ideas sent to them by people with whom they've never worked.  Fifteen people might mail in the very same idea at the very same time and every one of them will feel that it is a completely original idea that "suddenly popped into my mind.

It doesn't take very long scouring the cutter forums to see that many people have longed for the day when they no longer would need to use a mat.  And, eCraft responded.  It also doesn't take very long to see how important "Print & Cut" is to getting the most out of a cutting machine.  And, that is the vacuum that Provo decided to address with the Cricut Imagine.  But, what does one have to do with the other?

I have to believe that the decison by Craftwell to bundle eCraftShop Pro software was, at least in part, in response to the buzz about the Cricut Imagine.  Aside from Lysa, who is a person after my own heart surrounded by machines, most digital cutter owners aren't going to be buying multiple machines. So, the market pressure of Cricut helps potential eCraft buyers because it forced Craftwell to respond by offering more.

But, don't think it stops here.  I am amazed that it has taken so long to combine inkjet technology (if that is what the Imagine is using) with a cutting blade.  I mean, it just seems like a no-brainer!  When I look into the future I envision being able to create real puffy-stickers using printable gels.   And, I think just being able to emboss with a digital cutting machine is going to be quite boring in the not too distant future.  How about being able to print out in full RELIEF as digital cutters and personal 3D printing merges together.  I also expect you can forget about those replaceable blades.  Why not using a laser to cut that can cut to ANY controlled depth.  And, don't forget the supplies.  Glitter paper is cool.  But, materials that might be able store 3D images or sound would be even cooler.

Cricut fans should be glad that Provo is still innovating.  But, please don't let this tiny step forward, that seems SO big now, fool you into seeing yourselves as a LOYAL Cricut fan.  If you do, sooner of later you will find yourself disappointed.  Be loyal to your own needs.  That is what is really important.


Lysa said...

Hi there Meeks-Man,
Thanks so much for your opinion on the imagine. As a box maker (I mostly do party favors) the constant quest for an accurate print and cut has always been my goal (or should I say my "need")I am on board with all that you said. I find I go off on tangents thinking I can manipulate what the manufacturer has provided and most at times failed. To be honest finding the work around can be half (or at least 80% of) the fun. I can't wait for you to get that ecraft and I can't wait for me to get the imagine. I will be glued to see what you are going to say about your new machine. I also want to say that as consumers, what we(self included) most seem to lack is the ability to access our own needs. When friends would ask me about a computer purchase my first question was always "Well what are you going to do with it?" Most can't even answer. Kids on the other hand have a better handle on that question. They know they are gamers. They know things about certain video cards and that memory size really does mean something. I think people like me and you have something in mind and feel like if the manufacture didn't provide it we will still conquer it through a work around. Provocraft has a terrible reputation for being proprietorial with its files and its software, so my fear is that I won't be able to import jpegs and svgs. sorry to be so long winded but I wanted to give you a shout out of thanks for your comments. I will watch as you explore your ecraft. Keep us all posted. Thanks again Meeks,

Tom Meeks said...


You'll never have to apologize to me for being long-winded. Reponses are what I want more than anything else. And, I am SO glad to hear that you plan to pick up an Imagine, if it is what we thing it is. Because by dividing the labor or checking these things out we can get much farther much faster than with each of us reinventing the wheel.

Eager young programmers think that slinging code is what programming is all about. But, the real pros know that helping the client to identify their core needs is where real success is to be found.

One of the issues with my daughter not using the Gazelle for a year is that while I could visualize how it could help her I did a poor job of SHOWING her how it could help here. Ten minutes into my little min-demo for her the other night and she got it.

So, let's agree that we will try to do our best to not only explain the machines; but, to capture people's imaginations with visions of what that machine can do to meet needs they might not have even known existed.

Every comment you post makes me more and more glad that I began this blog. And I hope others, perhaps with different machines and different needs will join us.


That YOU Lysa.

Tom Meeks said...

I wish I could edit comments. If someone knows how, PLEASE let me know.

That should have been THANK YOU,, Lysa. :)

Denise O'Connor said...

Hi Tom & Lysa,

I too am intrigued by the Imagine. I currently have an Expression. When I first got the Expression as a gift from my DH, I was discouraged because I only had two cartridges and it was limiting. When I discovered SCAL (Sure Cuts A Lot)it opened up a new world to me. The problem with SCAL was that (at the time) you could really only cut fonts and dingbats. Then I finally discoved Make the Cut. This software has worked wonders for me. Andy, the developer actaully took the Cricut and opened it up the way ProvoCraft could have but refused to do.

My fear with the Imagine is that it will again be restricted by ProvoCraft. I read somewhere (not sure where) that the Imagine will be able to print and cut on "new" cartridges and cut only on "old" cartridges. I have not seen any mention of importing svg, jpg, png, or even mention of software. Knowing PC as I do, being a customer of theirs for years, I am very skeptical. IMHO they tend to put out products before they are really ready for the marketplace. When the Gypsy was released a year ago, I decided that I was not going to get it. Then I won one in a contest that PC had going! I actaully got one of the very first Gypsys. The software on the Gypsy was actually inferior to their Design Studio, and if you know DS then you know that it is horrible, the Gypsy was even worse. It has been almost a year and just now with updates along the way, the software on Gypsy is about the same as DS.

When eCraft was announced about a year ago, I was intrigued by it, but didn't pay too much attention at the time. About two months ago, I started to really research it and found that this was probably a machine that would suit most of my needs. That being said, I am still skeptical, it is one thing to say that this machine can do these things and another to actaully deliver. Will I never get an Imagine? I have no idea, I may but since I know PC, I am holding off.

I actually live in the Chicago area so I am going to the CHA Consumer Show on Friday 7/30 and I plan on bringing my video camera and will make a point of visiting the Cricut booth (hopefully I will be able to see the Imagine in action). Unfortunately eCraft is not going to be a part of the Consumer Show, but I am still hoping that maybe just maybe my machine will arrive before then. I also plan on taking a video of my very first cuts on the eCraft. I will put both of the videos on my blog and I would welcome both of you and anyone else to my blog to see these machines. My blog is

Also, if either of you has any questions that you want the answers to on the Imagine, send me an e-mail and I will make sure to ask the PC folks at CHA for you.

Sorry this was so long, I got on a roll!!!


Tom Meeks said...

This is fabulous!

Community is all about collaboration that benefits everyone and I really appreciate hearing about your experiences and even about your skepticism. Skepticism is like fear to a circus performer. You don't want too much of it. But, a little bit keeps you cautious and careful. And, THAT keeps you from falling.

The other thing that I appreciate in both of you is the beauty and creativity of your blogs. Don't expect me to even TRY to keep up with you guys in that category!

By the way, I LOVE Chicago and especially in the spring. But, I haven't been there in over 20 years. I used to fly there, from the DC area, at least once a week, for several years when I was with the video game company. (

Happy to have you aboard!