Silouette Curio vs Cameo 3 

Cutting machines are big purchases for any DIYer, so it is important to compare them in depth before making a purchase decision. One of the most common comparisons is the Silouette Curio vs. Cameo 3.

Silhouette is one of the leading cutting machine manufacturers, and its products are highly sought after by hobbyists and professionals alike. The Curio and Cameo 3 are two of the company’s most popular machines.

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11/26/2021 07:46 pm GMT

Many buyers find themselves comparing these two cutters when preparing to make a purchase, so we have put together a buyer’s guide using extensive research and many points of comparison.

At a Glance

The Cameo 3 and the Curio are actually intended for slightly different applications, so it is difficult to say which machine is better overall. The short answer is that the Cameo 3 is better for the majority of crafters, especially hobbyists. However, the Curio is actually better for specialty jobs.

The Cameo 3 is better for cutting paper and card stock. It is also better for cutting simple designs. However, the Curio can stipple, emboss, deboss, etch, and score. The Cameo 3 can only cut and draw.

Read on for an in-depth look at each machine and a comparison of each machine’s strengths and weaknesses.

Everything You Need to Know About the Silhouette Curio

Silhouette America Curio Crafting Printer, 10, White

The Curio is not meant to replace the Cameo 3 or the newer Cameo 4. Instead, it is meant to serve as a complementary piece. While it does offer functionality not seen in the Cameo 3, it can also cut and draw in much the same way. It also features a dual carriage design that is similar to the Cameo 3’s set-up.

Dual Carriage Design

Curio’s dual carriage design allows two tools to function at the same time. For example, you could have two cutting blades working at the same time to cut out a complex design. The dual carriage even allows the machine to perform two different tasks, such as cutting and embossing, at the same time.

Working on Thick Materials

One of the headline features of the Curio is its capability of working on materials up to 5 mm thick. It can sketch on wood sheets or etch on metal this thick. It is capable of cutting through material up to 2 mm thick with the heavy-duty blades that are included with the cutting machine.

USB Connection Required

The Curio requires a connection to a computer in order to work. It can work with either a PC or a Mac. A USB cable is included for this purpose.

Silhouette America Studio Business Edition Software, Multicolor

 

The Curio, as with all Silhouette machines, comes with the Silhouette Studio software. This software makes it easy for you to change the settings and functions of the machine from your computer.

Silhouette Studio can also be used to create designs. You can even use important fonts and images from other programs. If you don’t want to create your own, many pre-created designs are included.

Full Technical Specs

  • System Requirements: Windows 7 or higher/Mac OS X 10.10 or higher. 2 GB disk space, 4 GB RAM, 2 GHz CPU, USB port.
  • Warranty: One-year warranty on labor and parts. Only customers in Canada or the United States are covered.
  • Weight: 5 lbs. 5 oz.
  • Dimensions: 5 ½ inches by 17 ¼ inches by 7 inches.
  • Wired Connection: USB 2.0.
  • Cutting Force: 210 grams.
  • Maximum material thickness: 2 mm for cutting; 5 mm for other tasks.
  • Cutting area: 8 ½ by 6 inches. It can be expanded to 8 ½ by 12 inches with a large base (not included).

Silhouette Curio Pros & Cons

Pros

The Silhouette Curio has several unique features that few other cutting machines have. Its main selling point is its versatility. The Cameo 3 cannot do many of the things that the Curio can do. Also, some cutting machines from competitors like Cricut cannot match Curio’s versatility.

Another advantage of using the Curio is its ability to work with materials that are up to 5 mm thick. It is important to note that the Curio cannot cut 5 mm thick materials. It can etch, score, emboss, stipple, and draw on these materials.

Most other cutting machines on the market can only work on materials that are up to 3 mm thick.

One of the other benefits of the Curio is its companion software.

The Silhouette Studio software that comes with the Curio makes complex designs easy. It even offers an ever-increasing library of designs that you can make with your Curio.

Cons

While the Curio is a high-quality cutting machine, it is not without its drawbacks.

One of the most common complaints about the Curio is how noisy it is when working.

It is noisy enough to bother people in an adjoining room. If you work from a home office, this level of noise may be a significant problem.

For example, the noise from the Curio could wake up children sleeping in the next room. The noise shouldn’t be a problem if you have soundproofed your workspace or if you have a basement workspace.

One of the other drawbacks often mentioned in relation to the Curio is the difficulty of embossing.

While embossing is certainly possible with the Curio, it is a difficult three-step process. If you make a mistake on just one of these three steps, the project will likely be ruined, and you may need to start over. This means that embossing is difficult and time-consuming.

Finally, the Curio can only work with materials that are 12 inches long or shorter. This makes some projects difficult or impossible.

For example, working on a large vinyl banner is not possible when using the Curio. Most other cutting machines on the market, including the Cameo 3, can work on much longer pieces of material.

Everything You Need to Know About the Silhouette Cameo 3

Silhouette CAMEO Laser Cutting Machine
Silhouette CAMEO Laser Cutting Machine

Materials

The Silhouette Cameo 3 is an all-around cutting machine. It is capable of cutting over 100 materials. The materials that it can work with include vinyl, fabric, cardstock, and, of course, paper. The size of the machine allows it to cut strips of materials that are up to 12 inches wide. It can cut mats of materials that are 12 inches long or rolls of material up to 10 feet long.

Dual-Carriage Design

Like the Curio, the Cameo 3 has a dual carriage design that allows two tools to work at the same time. Unlike the Curio, however, the two tools of the Cameo 3 have to be performing the same function. It cannot multi-task like the Curio.

Bluetooth

One of the biggest draws of the Cameo 3 is that it has Bluetooth connectivity. This allows it to connect to a computer wirelessly. It also comes with a USB cable so that you can use a wired connection if you prefer.

Full-Color Display

Not only does the Cameo 3 have Bluetooth connectivity, it actually features its own display. It has a full-color touchscreen on the front of the machine.

This display allows you to operate the Cameo 3 independently of a computer. It even has built-in tutorials to help you use the Cameo 3. Most of the other machines in the Cameo 3’s class, including the Curio, must be connected to a computer in order to work.

If you are using the Cameo 3 without a computer, you can plug in a USB storage device. This device can be used to store various designs that you want the Cameo 3 to create. You can access the files on this USB storage device through the Cameo 3’s screen.

Built-In Storage

Silhouette Wireless Cutting Machine-AutoBlade-Dual Carriage-Studio Software, 12, CAMEO 3 - Classic White Edition

One of the more underrated features of the Cameo 3 is its storage. The Cameo 3 has numerous built-in storage compartments. Every crafter knows that losing small blades and other tools is a constant problem when working on a project.

The Cameo 3 has a compartment that is specifically designed to safely house extra blades. There is a second compartment that holds pens and other tools. The machine even features a third storage compartment in the form of a pull-out drawer that can hold miscellaneous items.

Adjustability

Silhouette has made the Cameo 3 very easy to adjust. This is an important feature for crafters who work on a variety of projects with differing sizes. The rollers can be adjusted to accommodate letter, A4, 12-inch, and 13-inch sizes. The Cameo 3 also features the Autoblade tool, which automatically adjusts cutting depth.

Cross-Cutter

Silhouette Wireless Cutting Machine-AutoBlade-Dual Carriage-Studio Software, 12, CAMEO 3 - Classic White Edition

While the Cameo 3 is an automated cutting machine, it also offers a manual cross-cutter. This is essentially a paper cutter found at the back of the device. Many hobbyists use the Cameo 3’s cross-cutter when they have extra material left after working on a project. This can allow you to create a new design with the leftover material.

Stippling

The Cameo 3 is capable of producing a variety of drawings as well as cutting material. It is even capable of creating drawings using stippling. This drawing style involves creating a design with many tiny dots.

Barcode Registration

The Silhouette Studio software that comes with the Cameo 3 can produce barcodes. The Cameo 3 can read these barcodes, which will correspond to a design from the software. Once it reads the barcode, the Cameo 3 can cut out this design, even if you have not loaded the file.

This is useful for printing out a sheet of paper when you are at your computer and using the Cameo 3 to cut the design when it is not linked to a computer.

Full Technical Specs

  • System Requirements: Windows 7 or higher/Mac OS X 10.10 or higher. 2 GB disk space, 4 GB RAM, 2 GHz CPU, USB port.
  • Warranty: One-year warranty on labor and parts. Only customers in Canada or the United States are covered.
  • Weight: 8 lbs. 15 oz.
  • Dimensions: 22 ½ inches by 8 ½ inches by 6 inches.
  • Wired Connection: USB 2.0.
  • Cutting Force: 210 grams.
  • Maximum material thickness: 2 mm.
  • Cutting area: 12 inches by 12 inches if the material is in a mat format. 12 by 10 feet if the material is in a roll.

Silhouette Cameo 3 Pros & Cons

Pros

The Silhouette Cameo 3 has several advantages over competing machines.

Its Bluetooth compatibility and ability to read USB storage devices are a combination that is matched by few competitors. Also, few cutting machines have a full-color touchscreen that includes tutorials.

Additionally, the powerful Silhouette Studio software extends the functionality of the Cameo 3 in a way that software from competitors cannot match.

Additionally, the built-in storage offered by the Cameo 3 is a practical touch that most competitors lack.

Finally, the Cameo 3’s ability to work on rolls of material up to 10 feet long is exceptional.

Cons

The Silhouette Cameo 3 is considered to be one of the industry leaders when it comes to prosumer all-purpose cutting machines. Even though it is no longer manufactured, it remains popular amongst professionals and hobbyists alike. It has two main drawbacks, however.

First, it is quite noisy. The noise level is similar to the noise level produced by the Curio. Some competing cutting machines are quieter.

Second, its Bluetooth connectivity can be unreliable.

Though this is actually one of the biggest advantages that this machine offers, some users still end up using the more reliable wired connection.

Similarities Between the Silhouette Cameo 3 & the Silhouette Curio

While the Silhouette Cameo 3 and the Silhouette Curio are designed for different functions, they still have many similarities. They both have a dual carriage design. They both use the Silhouette Studio software.

Also, both machines can draw and cut. Additionally, both the Curio and the Cameo 3 can work via a wired USB 2.0 connection.

It is also worth noting that the Curio and the Cameo 3 have exactly the same cutting force: 210 grams.

Both machines have the same system requirements that connected computers must meet. Finally, both the Curio and the Cameo 3 have the same one-year warranty for American and Canadian customers.

Comparing the Silhouette Cameo 3 & the Silhouette Curio

While the Silhouette Cameo 3 and the Silhouette Curio have several similarities, they have many more differences. These differences range from connectivity to functionality to size. See below for an in-depth breakdown of the differences between the two machines. We have also compared each machine’s offering in each category and picked a winner in each area.

Connectivity

One of the biggest differences between the two machines is in their connectivity features. The Cameo 3 can connect to computers and other devices through Bluetooth. However, some reviewers have stated that the Bluetooth connection can be unreliable. It also has a wired USB connection.

On the other hand, the Curio only has a wired USB connection. This is one of the features of the Curio that prevents it from being used as a stand-alone machine. This means that the Cameo 3 is superior in this area.

Types of Materials

One of the biggest advantages that the Curio has over the Cameo 3 is in the types of materials it can work with. The Curio can etch, score, and emboss various metals.

The Cameo 3 is not set up to work on metals. Also, the Curio can cut foam and leather. The Cameo 3 is not capable of cutting such thick materials.

Cutting Sizes

The Cameo 3 is a larger machine, so it should come as no surprise that it can cut larger materials. Its total cutting area is 12 inches by 12 inches if the material is in a mat. If the material is in a roll, such as a large vinyl banner, it can accommodate dimensions of 12 inches by 10 feet. The Cameo 3 is the leader in this category.

Silhouette White Cameo 4 w/ Autoblade, 12"x12" Cutting Mat, 3X Speed, Roll Feeder, User Guides, Designs, and More

The Curio can only work with materials that are 8 ½ inches by 6 inches. There is a larger base that enables the Curio to work with materials up to 12 inches long, but this base must be ordered separately from the machine.

Functions

The Curio has a clear lead when it comes to functionality. In fact, this is the whole reason for its existence. The Cameo 3 can draw and cut.

The Curio, on the other hand, can etch, score, emboss, deboss, draw and cut. This makes it a must-have for dedicated hobbyists and professional crafters, though casual hobbyists will only need the Cameo 3.

The Autoblade

The Cameo 3 has a unique tool called an “Autoblade.” This blade automatically adjusts its cutting depth to whatever material is in the machine at the time. This saves you the time you would have to spend manually adjusting the blade. Also, it may help you to avoid wasting material with inaccurate cuts.

The Autoblade is only available for the Cameo 3. It is not available on the Curio. The Curio wins this category by default.

Stand-Alone Use

The Curio must be connected to a computer to work. It does not have its own display, meaning it must be controlled from a computer that is running the Silhouette Studio program. The Curio cannot access files saved on a USB storage device.

The Cameo 3 does have its own display. This display allows the user to operate the machine without connecting it to a computer. Also, the Cameo 3 is capable of accessing files saved on a USB storage device. It is obviously the winner in this category.

Included Accessories

The Cameo 3 and the Curio both come with a range of accessories. The Cameo 3 includes an Autoblade, a cross cutter, and a cutting mat. It does not include any pens or any blades besides the Autoblade.

The Curio includes a blade, two embossing tools, a cutting mat, and an embossing mat. Clearly, the Curio is superior when it comes to the accessories that are included with the machine. Both the Curio and the Cameo 3 have optional accessories that can be purchased separately from the machine.

Included Software

Both the Cameo 3 and the Curio include the Silhouette Studio software. However, the program is set up differently to reflect the different capabilities of the two machines. The Studio program included with the Cameo 3 has the emboss, etch, and score functionality locked. It does, however, come with a one-month free subscription to the Silhouette Design Store as well as 100 free designs.

The Curio has the full functionality of the Studio program unlocked to reflect the machine’s wider range of capabilities. It also comes with a free one-month subscription to the Silhouette Design Store. However, it only includes 50 free designs instead of the Cameo 3’s 100.

As the Cameo 3’s version of Studio includes all the functions that the machine needs and has 50 more free designs, it wins this category.

Aesthetics

Both of these machines feature attractive aesthetics. The smaller Curio is sleeker than the bulky Cameo 3. However, the Cameo 3 is available in teal, pink, and graphite. The Curio is only available in white.

This category is a wash.

Portability

If you want to bring your cutting machine with you on your travels, you will have an easier time bringing the Curio. It only weighs 5 ½ pounds. It is also much smaller.

On the other hand, the Cameo 3 weighs nearly nine pounds. The Cameo 3 is also much bulkier. However, its Bluetooth capability and ability to work without a computer make it more portable overall. It is also worth noting the 3 ½ pound weight disparity is probably not enough to make a difference.

The Cameo 3 wins this category.

Silouette Curio vs. Cameo 3: The Winner

Which is the best overall?

The best overall machine is clearly the Cameo 3. However, this isn’t necessarily a knock against the Curio. After all, the Curio is not meant to be an overall machine. The bottom line is that the Cameo 3 is a must-have, while the Curio is simply a desirable supplement.

Which is best for hobbyists? Which is best for professionals?

The Cameo 3 is best for hobbyists due to its ease of use and ability to cut larger pieces of material. The color touchscreen with built-in tutorials will be invaluable to novice crafters. Beginning crafters will also be grateful for the Autoblade, as properly adjusting a cutting blade can be challenging without plenty of experience.

The Curio is the best machine for professionals (assuming they already have a general-purpose cutting machine). Professionals will need the wider range of functionality that the Curio offers.

The ability to work with metals, which many professional crafters work with on a regular basis, makes the Curio a necessity for those who craft for a living.

Pros will also love the Curio’s ability to work with thicker materials than the Cameo 3.

Where to find the Silhouette Curio and the Silhouette Cameo 3

The Silhouette Curio is available on Amazon. It is no longer available on the Silhouette website. This is because Silhouette no longer manufactures it. The Silhouette Cameo 3 is not the latest model in the Cameo line. It is also no longer manufactured. This is why it is not available on Amazon or on the manufacturer’s website. However, it is available on eBay.