When I purchased my first Silhouette, I chose the Cameo for its ability to cut materials up to 12” wide. A few years later, enticed by its dual blade-holders and increased cutting depth, I acquired a Cameo 3 as well. The Curio and Mint machines followed soon after. Recently, yet another Silhouette has found its way into my life – the Portrait 2.
You may be wondering why I decided to purchase a smaller machine, considering the fact that I already own two Cameos. It’s really pretty simple. Since becoming an instructor, my needs have changed. Having first-hand knowledge of ALL the Silhouette machines means that I can better serve my students, some of whom are Portrait owners. In addition, I often travel with my Cameo(s) to classes and events, but don’t always need the larger cutting area. Having three machines available also means that I can accommodate more “try before you buy” students at any given time. The Portrait 2 meets all these needs.
Your needs will be different from mine, of course, but a smaller machine may be right for you as well. Read on as I share my first impressions with you and decide for yourself.
First of all, can I just say that the Portrait 2 is really CUTE??? After so many years of owning the larger machines, this little baby seems TINY! And it’s so lightweight!
Setup was quick and easy. Since the Portrait 2 doesn’t require firmware, the whole process took less than 30 minutes from the time I opened the box to successful completion of my first cut.
Despite its small size, the Portrait 2 is a powerful cutting machine that includes features formerly available only on the Cameo 3. It has an increased clearance of 2mm (twice as much as the original Portrait), making it compatible with the Deep Cut Blade and thus able to cut thicker materials such as craft foam.
The Portrait 2 is also Bluetooth and AutoBlade compatible, just like its big sister.
So far, I’ve only found two negatives with the Portrait 2. The first is the way that media is loaded onto the mat. On the 12” x 12” Cameo mat, media is placed even with the grid markings in the upper left corner. Since the cutting width of the Portrait 2 is only 8” wide, letter size paper (8.5” x 11”) is loaded onto the smaller mat in such a way that the excess half-inch is evenly distributed on either side of the cutting area. Markings on each side of the grid indicate where to align the paper.
Another negative is how the mat is loaded into the machine. As you may recall from my post on loading the mat, the Cameo and Portrait models are each loaded a bit differently. On all Cameo models, the mat is loaded with the left edge aligned to a marking on the left side of the machine bed.
On the Portrait and Portrait 2, the mat is loaded into the machine with the arrow centered between the two white rollers.
There are three small alignment markings on the bed of the machine, one for the edge of the mat, another for the placement of letter-size media, and yet another for A4 media.
When the mat is loaded properly, a longer mark remains visible on the left side of the machine bed, approximately 3/8” to the left of the mat.
These are not major complaints, but something to keep in mind if you’re accustomed to using the Cameo.
It’s also important to note that some supplies for the Portrait 2 may not be as readily available as those for the Cameo. The Portrait 2 is designed for 9” rolls of vinyl. Most vinyl comes in 12” widths but smaller rolls can be found at Swing Design, Amazon, and Silhouette America. Retail craft stores often do not stock Portrait-sized mats but they can be easily purchased from online retailers including Swing Design and Amazon.
To summarize, here’s my list of the pros and cons of the Portrait 2:
- Lightweight and easily portable
- Same cutting ability as the Cameo 3
- AutoBlade compatible
- Perfect size for standard (8.5” x 11”) media
- Mat alignment differs from the Cameo
(for both media placement and loading into machine)
- Fewer sources to purchase 9” vinyl & Portrait-size cutting mats
All in all, I think the Portrait 2 is a great machine and just the right size for many projects. The Creative Cutters group seemed to like it too!
Do you own a Portrait? If not, would you consider purchasing one in the future? Share your experiences in the comments below.
And if you’d like the chance to win a Portrait 2, why not join me for Silhouette Saturday? Thanks to the generosity of Silhouette America, some lucky attendee will be taking one home!!!
Until next time,
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