So the first videos of the CHA vendor show are showing up on YouTube, and there are some exciting things happening! One of the products that is making a big splash is the Cricut Imagine. I have spent quite a bit of time looking at the Imagine and I think there are some things that everyone should consider before purchasing one of these machines.
1. Do you like the look of the printed images? A lot of people on the Cricut messageboard are debating this very issue. I personally don't really care for them because I think they look too put together. They look very professional, and I feel like they lose some of that homemade feel. This is the very reason why I am learning Hybrid Scrapbooking instead of full on Digital Scrapbooking. Now as more and more examples of what this machine can do floods the internet, I may change my mind. Cricut is promoting that with this machine, you won't need to buy any paper other than white which is true, however I like my paper. I love the colors, the textures, the glitter, the foil all of it, so is this realistic. For me it is not. I have a digital library of digital papers which I love to use and tweak to work for my purpose. I also have quite a supply of colored cardstock as well as patterned papers that I love to look at and it inspires me. When I feel that I am in a craft slump, I go to my paper! Now there are some people out there that have trouble coordinating papers and finding colors that work together. If that is you, this machine could be a great thing because all the patterns and colors on the special Imagine cartridges have been colored by artists, and they also offer some alternate color options that work together.
2. What can it cut? According to one of the videos that I saw, the Imagine can cut pliable material. Since it is pliable material, that means that chipboard is out. I also wonder about magnet sheets, my guess would be that this can not be cut on the Imagine. If you don't cut chipboard or magnet sheets, then the Imagine may be the machine for you. I don't necessarily cut a lot of chipboard or magnet sheets, however I like having the ability to do so.
3. The Price! With a whopping price of $599 for the machine, this is definately a factor. Of course, this price will come down. The only thing that we don't know is when the price will come down and how much it will come down. Other than the initial cost, you also have to consider the cost of the peripherals. There are the mats, the ink cartridges, the new Imagine art cartridges, and the new Imagine pattern cartridges. That is a lot of stuff. According to one of the videos that I saw, the machine comes with one Imagine art cartridge. No word as to whether the machine comes with the ink cartridges (I would guess that if comes with one of each, but this has not yet been reported.) Also the ink cartridges are pricey, $34.99 for black, and $39.99 for the tri color cartridge. That is right, tri color cartridges, it is funny but I had thought that the printing industry was moving away from this and going to seperate cartridges for each color. My printer takes a total of six cartridges! That way, if I run out of yellow, I just have to replace the yellow cartridge instead of all the colors. Apparently, these cartridges will only be available from Cricut.com and stores that carry the machine. This is something to consider, because if you don't live near a store that carries the machine, you will have to order online. This can be most incovenient if you run out and don't have a replacement on hand. All in all, this will be an expensive machine to run.
As I was perusing the Cricut messageboard, there was not a lot of excitement around the Imagine, which was kind of suprising. Most of the people that said they were not going to get one, listed one of the above reasons. We have seen this before of course, with the Gypsy, and there are quite a few Gypsy owners out there, so I wonder if this is everyone's first instincts are skepticism. We have to remember that with the Gypsy, it took 9 months after release before the Gypsy operated the way it was promised at launch. I wonder if this is going to be the case with the Imagine. Will the messageboard have Imagine owners on there that are complaining that the machine doesn't work as promised? Or with Provo Craft suprise us all, and have a machine that works as promised right out of the box. I certainly hope that those that get the Imagine will be happy with it, because at $599, you deserve it!
Here is one of the videos on the Cricut Imagine that I found the most informative.
IMHO, if you are considering this machine, you should wait until it is in the hands of crafters and see if they like it first. I know what you are saying..."But Denise you didn't do this with the e-craft!" You are right, but I also have listened carefully to what the beta testers have been allowed to tell us, and I did not plunk down $599 either! I normally would never buy something that hasn't been reviewed by users first, but I did make an exception this time, and I certainly hope it works out OK. There are several features that the eCraft claims to have that no other cutter has. There was one factor that put it over the top for me, and that has to do with Craftwell itself. A lot of people have criticized Craftwell for delaying the release of the eCraft. I see it a little differently. Let me try to explain...if you are a company that has a prototype of a product and you are trying to decide if this product is worth the time and investment into perfecting, what would you do? Well you would probably have focus groups, but you might also take it to a show like CHA and do some live demos and hear from vendors that actually would have to sell the machine. I think that is exactly what Craftwell did in the Summer of 2009. Based on the reaction and feedback that they got on the machine, I think that they knew they had to make this machine work exactly the way crafters want it to work. So they got it into hands of beta testers, who came back to them and said, these are the things that you should change, these things are great as is, and these are the things that need to be added. Once you have that list, you now have to put it into the hands of your engineers to see if it is even feasible to make those changes. Then you build another prototype to test it and see how well it works. If you are truly trying to make a great product that is going to put your company on the map, then chances are even with this new and improved model there are going to be some minor changes that have to be made before it is ready to go into mass production. All of this takes time. I believe that this is what Craftwell is doing. Why do I believe that? Well in the beginning of June on a Sunday, I sent an e-mail to Craftwell's customer service asking them some questions. I got a response two hours later...on a Sunday! This response was not a form letter, or even from a low level customer service representative. This response was from the Vice President. He also gave me his direct line phone number so that I could call him if I had any more questions! Customer Service is the key here. How many corporations can you say give you that kind of customer service? When you have a company that provides great customer service, you almost always have great products as well because they listen! If I had not gotten that e-mail, I probably would not have pre-ordered the machine.
On a final note, I think that the Imagine could be a great machine for some people, but I am curious what all of you think so far, so please let me know!
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