Silhouette America Portrait 2 Review

by Jane Melcher
Updated on

Sometimes, less is more. Crafters who crave simplicity seek a cutting machine that performs necessary functions without complicated features that they’ll never use (and don’t want to pay for). On the other hand, if you need a machine for light to moderate use, you’ll find satisfaction in Silhouette’s trimmed-down machine.

The Silhouette America Portrait 2 promises a versatile but compact cutting experience for an array of materials up to 2 mm thick.

Silhouette America Portrait 2 Vinyl Cutting Machine

Silhouette America Portrait 2 Vinyl Cutting Machine
172 Reviews
Silhouette America Portrait 2 Vinyl Cutting Machine
  • Silhouette Portrait 2 with Bluetooth and...
  • Cuts a variety of materials including:...
  • Mac and PC compatible software included
  • 50 exclusive digital designs
  • Note: Kindly refer user manual before use

General Features

The Silhouette America Portrait 2 is a personal-use cutting machine that cuts over 100 different materials, including cardstock, fabric, transparencies, vellum, heat transfer material, magnet paper, adhesive vinyl, and other materials up to 2 mm thick.

If you’ve used a Cameo 3, it may help to know that you can accomplish all the same tasks with the Portrait 2 but in a more compact form. It’s compatible with PC or Mac and operates using a USB cable and Bluetooth technology.

When you purchase the Silhouette America Portrait 2, you’ll have access to the design software and can also import your own images. In addition, it’s PixScan compatible for those who want to import printed designs for cutting.

Product Specifics

As described, your Silhouette America Portrait 2 cutting machine comes with:

· Silhouette Portrait® 2

· Power cable & USB cable

· 8-inch wide cutting mat

· AutoBlade

· Bluetooth adapter

· Silhouette Studio® software (download)

· 50 exclusive designs (download)

· 1-month Silhouette Design Store subscription (available with tool registration)

Material Size: cuts material up to 8 inches wide and 10 feet long

Machine Dimensions: 12 x 4 x 5 inches and weighs 6.6 pounds, making it very portable

Pricing: ranges from $135.99 – $199.99, making it more affordable for personal crafting

What Features Make the Silhouette Portrait 2 Stand Out?

1. Drawing Features

Another great thing about the Silhouette 2 is that you can use it to draw out what you want to work on. This allows you to create custom invitations and so much more. Drawing is just the same as cutting, the only difference being that instead of using the blade, you replace it with a pen.

You can purchase the cool Sketch Pen Starter Kit and the Pen Holder from Silhouette to use these drawing features. This Sketch Pen Starter Kit comes with 24 differently colored pens for your convenience.

You will love using your Silhouette 2 to sketch your drawings and see them come to life after you use the Silhouette Portrait.

2. PixScan Compatibility

Silhouette tools continue to impress, and the PixScan is no less. PixScan is a Silhouette technology that turns your hand-drawn sketches into precise cuts. Imagine creating DIY projects and seeing what you've hand-drawn come to life. Pretty impressive, right?

This Silhouette machine will be able to give you precise cut jobs of what you've hand-drawn. This means that your creativity will be uncapped. This applies whether you have your own business or do this as a hobby.

What do you need to create DIY projects like these? A scanner or a camera. Here are straightforward steps you can follow when using this technology.

  1. Place your artwork on your mat.
  2. Use your camera or smartphone camera to capture a clear image of your sketch.
  3. Import the image into Silhouette Studio and add your cut lines.

As simple as ABC.

3. Silhouette Portrait Built-In Software

One of the many good things about Silhouette is that it comes equipped with its custom Studio Designer software. And the best part? You can use this Studio Designer software even when you're not connected to the internet.

Although these Silhouette tools come in very handy, you'll need a learning curve with the Studio Designer software. After some time and you have got the hang of it, you will be able to sketch your own drawings and create your custom designs.

The fact that it can function without the internet gives this Silhouette Portrait an upper hand compared to other cutting machines like the Circut Machines. So you can either design your sketches from scratch or use one of the available ones.

Note that if you want to use some advanced features of this design software, you'll have to upgrade. Some of these features include knife features, SVG files, the advanced eraser, and layers. You can either upgrade to the Designer Edition, which goes for only $50 or the Business Edition that goes for $100.

4. Cutting and Blade Options

This Silhouette Portrait can cut up to 10 feet long of material and 8 inches wide of material. Unfortunately, because of its size, it can't do more than that. This is one of the limitations of this Silhouette Portrait.

Another disadvantage is that the cutting force falls on the weaker side of 210 grams. This means that although it can handle thicker materials like craft foam and leather, it can't handle materials like balsa wood.

Nonetheless, it can handle a plethora of materials, including craft foam, vinyl, cereal box chipboard, tissue paper, cardstock, lightweight fabric, iron-on transfer, rhinestone template, and so much more within this scope.

Now, let's look at the different blade options that come with this Silhouette Portrait.

a). Deep Cut Blade

The deep blade allows you to cut through 2mm thick materials. Therefore, if you're working on leather or craft foam, this is the blade you should use. In addition, this blade is great for creating custom stickers that need thick materials.

b). Auto Blade

This is a great feature with this Silhouette Portrait. This blade automatically adjusts or calibrates itself to suit the material you cutting. This means that it will adjust as you cut thicker materials and adjust again as you cut thinner ones.

This feature happens without you taking out the blade and adjusting it. Fiddling with the blade pressures and depths can be a tedious task, and you'll be thankful for this feature. You get to save time and have a more efficient working time.

c). Standard Blade

This is what came before the auto blade. The blade of this portable machine is often made from Carbide.

d). Fabric Blade

This is similar to the standard blade, but it has a blue-colored housing. As the name suggests, this cool blade is made to cut fabric as you use this Silhouette Portrait machine.

5. Working with Thicker Materials

These Silhouette cutting machines allow you to cut through thick materials such as leather and craft foam. In addition to the Silhouette Design store feature, this ability gives you extra convenience because it doesn't limit what you can cut with this Silhouette Portrait.

This Silhouette Portrait gives you a convenient 2mm clearance that allows you to handle thick materials such as these. This also differentiates this Silhouette 2 from the Silhouette Portrait 1. Therefore, if you've used the Silhouette Portrait 1, you'll love this upgrade.

In addition to being convenient, this Silhouette 2 feature means that you'll be getting better value for your money.

6. Bluetooth Compatibility

What is a machine without Bluetooth compatibility in this day and age? Nothing. If you've used the Silhouette Cameo, you know that this is a very convenient feature to have. Luckily, the Silhouette Portrait 2 has joined the ranks of the Silhouette Cameo in this regard.

You can comfortably use Silhouette Design on your couch when creating custom stickers and then send these designs to your Silhouette Portrait. Talk about wireless cutting. The Bluetooth range is about 100 feet, and you can sync up to 5 devices using your Silhouette account.

The advantage of this is that you can either use this Silhouette Portrait at home, in classrooms, in labs, and other places you want without worrying about dealing with wires. Check out the Silhouette website for the guide on how to set up your Bluetooth connectivity.

One thing to note with this Silhouette Portrait Bluetooth feature is that it is not included in all Silhouette Portrait 2 machines. Therefore, you need to check the product description to see if your chosen one comes with Bluetooth.

Nonetheless, if you get one that doesn't have Bluetooth compatibility, you can always get a Bluetooth adapter to make things easier.

7. Portability

You'll love this feature, especially if you don't work from one workstation. You can comfortably move your Silhouette Portrait from one place to the next, thanks to its size. After all, it's designed to be a beginner desktop vinyl cutting machine.

They don't want you to struggle as you work with it. In addition, it weighs about four pounds which makes it highly portable. However, don't assume that it's not as powerful as other bigger machines. The features above prove otherwise.

Now that we know what features we'll enjoy with this almost-perfect machine let's look at some pros and cons.

Pros

  • Very portable
  • Comes with an auto blade that adjusts automatically
  • Powerful
  • Easy to use
  • Has a maximum cutting length of 10 feet
  • Comes with Bluetooth compatibility
  • The Silhouette software works without internet
  • Comes with drawing abilities
  • Allows you to do DIY projects with ease
  • Can work over 100 types of materials

Cons

  • Has a limited cutting width because of its size
  • Advanced software features come at a cost
  • Has a weak cutting force of about 210 grams

Silhouette America Portrait 2 Verdict: Useful and Economical Purchase

Overall, this compact cutting machine is a great buy for those who want value, affordability, and simplicity. It’s easy to install, quiet (compared to most machines) and comes with user-friendly software.

Some crafters will be disappointed to learn that it costs to download additional designs from the software, but the average price is about 50 cents each, which should ease the sting. You’ll also get some free designs included with the Silhouette Studio software.

When it comes to performance, the Silhouette America Portrait 2 smoothly cuts most materials, but you’ll need to purchase the deep-cut blade for materials closer to 2 mm.

Be advised; if your goal is production and quantity, then you’ll want to consider purchasing an upgraded model that is designed for heavier use.

Crafters who want a simple machine for light to moderate personal use won’t be disappointed with the Silhouette America Portrait 2.

Now that we've looked at the Silhouette 2 let's look at another Silhouette Portrait that has been taking the market by storm, the Silhouette Portrait 3.

Silhouette Portrait 2 vs. Silhouette Portrait 3

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Silhouette Portrait 3 Electronic Cutting Tool
2,270 Reviews
Silhouette Portrait 3 Electronic Cutting Tool
  • Silhouette Portrait 3 with Bluetooth and...
  • Cuts a variety of materials including:...
  • Mac and PC compatible software included
  • Automatic tool detection
  • Note: Kindly refer user manual before use

Another great alternative to this Silhouette 2 is this Silhouette Portrait 3 with similar features. One notable difference is that the Silhouette Portrait 3 is a bit more expensive than its predecessor.

Another difference is that this Portrait Silhouette 3 works like it's advertized. So you can expect all the features listed to be what you get. Sometimes this isn't usually the case with the Silhouette 2, as some customers have stated.

You definitely won't have to worry about Bluetooth connectivity not working with this option. One of the features you'll definitely enjoy with this is matless cutting.

Matless Cutting Capabilities - A Unique Feature

Maximum cutting force makes you get clean cuts. However, things are a tad different when it comes to matless cutting. What does this mean? Have you ever had a packet or package or even stickers that weren't completely cut but had small holes around that allowed you to pop them out?

This is the work of matless cutting. This is one of the features you'll love about Silhouette machines, in addition to incredible precision. The advantage of matless cutting is that you don't have to use a cutting mat.

In addition to not using a cutting mat, this feature allows you to work with various materials. You can also use this feature with the Silhouette Portrait 3. Of course, you still won't need a cutting mat with the Silhouette Portrait 3.

Another advantage of this cut is how quick it is. Because it doesn't cut through the whole material, it works faster.

Now, let's briefly look at some pros and cons of this Silhouette Portrait 3.

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Has a small footprint
  • Uses a convenient Silhouette Studio software
  • Allows you to print and cut
  • Uses auto blade
  • Cuts most of the common materials
  • Allows you to do DIY projects with the PixScan technology
  • Has Bluetooth compatibility

Cons

  • Mostly limited to paper cutting and vinyl cutting
  • You have to trim your material to fit the width

Frequently Asked Questions About the Silhouette Portrait 2

1. How does Print and Cut work on the Silhouette Portrait 2?

You can either use PixScan or print your image on paper using the Silhouette software. If you choose to use PixScan, place your image on the provided mat and use your smartphone to take a clear picture.

Once you're satisfied with the image, upload the image to the Silhouette Studio software. If you choose to use the second method, use the Silhouette software to print the image with registration marks. These registration marks allow your Silhouette Portrait to cut precisely.

2. How can I get the Silhouette Studio software for free?

The basic version of the Silhouette Studio software is free to use and comes with amazing features. You get this version for free when you purchase your Silhouette Portrait. Feel free to download it from their website when you get started.

Feel free to download the software even before you get the machine to acquaint yourself with it.

3. Which is easier to use, Silhouette or Cricut?

That depends on what you want. The Cricut software is great for opening and cutting files. However, if you want to design your own art and create DIY projects, the Silhouette software works better.

Another great thing about the Silhouette Studio software is that you get to keep any images purchased from the site.

4. How does the Silhouette Cameo 4 Automatic Tool Detection work?

The automatic tool detection tool allows the Silhouette software to sense what type of tool has been inserted into the machine. Once this detection happens, your Cameo 4 automatically populates the said tool with action points.

You can populate these action points in the Send panel. However, only this machine features this amazing possibility. Check for the Tool Holder 1 and the Tool Holder 2 of the machine once you get it to familiarize yourself with the process.

These Tool Holders are where the tool is inserted. You can also insert a tool adapter in place of a tool. The metal strip in one of these Tool Holders is what informs this Silhouette family machine what has been inserted.

This information is then relayed to the Silhouette software. This feature gives this Silhouette machine an edge over other Silhouette products. Nonetheless, you'll always enjoy incredible precision when it comes to Silhouette products.

About the author

Jane Melcher

Jane is a stay-at-home small business mom. She makes more than her husband selling her creations on Etsy.

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