Saturday, February 9, 2013

More on my Cricut Craft Room Review

Just a little follow up to my post about the Cricut Craft Room.  I brought my laptop up to the craft cave and started linking all my cartridges.  After you log in you have to connect your Cricut and insert the cartridge, follow the prompts for about 4 clicks and it's done.  On to the next cartridge, over and over again.  If you have a boat load of them like I do, this is going to take a while.  I got about half way through mine before my attention span wandered.   

I'm hoping that once they are linked, I don't ever have to load the cartridge again to cut from it.  The existence of digital cartridges makes me think that will be true.  But we'll see. 

When looking for your cartridge in the long, long list of ALL Cartridges, they are alphabetically listed, but if you own one designed by Teresa Collins, you'll find it under T for Teresa rather that C for 'Chic and Scary'.  Duh.

One very odd thing is happening.  If you own a Cricut you probably have the 'George and Basic Shapes' cartridge.  This was the one they gave away for free when you bought the Cricut during its first 12-18 months on the market.  When I bought my Expression, they gave me 'Plantin Schoolbook'.  I had to buy the 'George' font separately.  No big deal.  I only mention it because 'George and Basic Shapes' is likely the most owned cartridge they have and I am not able to LINK it.  I've tried it twice now, and both times it hangs up.  I guess Provo Craft still has some bugs to work out of their Craft Room...

More to come as I get them all linked and start to play. 

Updated as of 2/16/2013

Just some more things to note as I've completed linking my cartridges started to cut from the Craft Room

HOLD THE PHONE - don't remove your Design Studio software just yet folks.  I've got a number of projects that I built using DS.  They are saved on my hard drive as .cut files.  I tried to import them into the Craft Room today and it was a total fail.  I updated my DS product from the Support page and took yet another firmware update, but no go.  When I want to cut those again, I'll be heading back to DS to do it. 

I have another cartridge that Craft Room will not let me link.  Pagoda will not link with the Craft Room, telling me a rather unhelpful message "This cartridge cannot be linked.  It has been changed".  What the hell does that mean?  I've never used it and yet somehow it's changed?  I guess when I want to use those images, I'll be heading back to the old Design Studio software.  Since I had to take another firmware update today I tried to link 'George' again.  Nope, still a no go on that one. 

While you are cutting from the Craft Room - forget trying to do anything else with your PC.  It takes total control of your computer while it's cutting.

The interface was pretty slow.  I filled a 12x12 page with 3" horse shoe shapes.  I wanted to move them away from the edges a bit more.  I was able to do it, but the response time was slow.  This is probably a function of my Internet connection.  When I am upstairs, the signal from my router in the basement is OK, but not like it is when I'm on the first floor.  Something to consider if you don't pay for maximum speed from your service provider like I do. 

As it turns out - I was correct when I said that linked cartridges never have to be loaded into the Cricut again as long as you use the Craft Room.  However, you have to have one cartridge loaded for the thing to work.  It can be any one.  Since 'George and Basic Shapes' was in my error pile, I used that when I cut shapes from '3 Birds On Parade'.

If I had to give the Craft Room a grade right now, I'd give it a B-.  (see my next update below)
  • I like access to digital images, not having to buy cartridges that take up space in my craft cave will be great. 
  • I like not having to load the cartridges any more.  It means I can move all that I already own to boxes in the basement rather than on the shelves in the cave.  (except of course those two I can't link...grrrr)
  • But since I can't use my .cut files from Design Studio in the craft room, that is a big negative.  And, this will make me keep my cartridges on the shelf rather than in that box in the basement.  Provo Craft has GOT to figure out a sync between DS and the Craft Room.  I tried to use 'Cricut Sync' but it failed as well. 
  • And, with two cartridges unable to be linked, I can only asuume there are others out there like that, and the only reason I don't know about them is because I did not buy them. 
  • Moving the images around on the page is slow.  If you are using an irregular shaped paper, like scraps, it is not a smooth click and drag.  You can do it, but you have to play with it. 
  • The way the Craft Room depicts the different layers on a given image makes it SUPER easy to get everything the right size.  Each layer is a different color and they are all shown on the same tab.  That way, if you are trying to cut and orange coat to fit your brown scarecrow, you can actually lay the coat over the scarecrow and size the coat right to him.  When you cut, it cuts one layer at a time and shows you where they are on the page.  Nifty. 
UPDATE #2 - 2/18/2013

I've never been one to give up, so I started poking around on the Cricut site and found in the FAQ's the trick to converting your .cut files from Design Studio to project files you can use in the Craft Room.  All you have to do is open them in DS and save them again as .gypsy files.  Then the Craft Room will let you upload them.  Yeah!  Apparently the update I took the other day is what let's me save them as .gypsy files.  Who knew?  Since there is a way to convert, I have to raise my grade of the Craft Room to a solid B+. 

I've been playing with one of their digital valentines I bought for $1.78 the other day.  It's going to be an Easter card when I'm done with it. It works quite well now that I have the hang of layering.  I will say, it's a bit tricky when you resize the card.  I was shooting for A2, but had to go a little bit bigger to make it look reasonable.  I think the card is optimal at A6 or A7, but again, I made it work.  It will fit in Martha Stewart's A2 envelope just fine.  Hers are designed larger because she assumes you will have chunky embellishments to account for.  Way to go Martha!  You know us so well. 


Andrea said...

I think Cricut is trying to keep up with the Silhouette and the like, but are failing miserably.

Even their Design Studio was mediocre at best and their attempt to move to the web as you've described is just as bad.

Too bad. I'm actually considered getting a Silhouette Cameo. :)

Chinglish12 said...

Have you experienced some serious lagging when working in the CCR? When I work in there, sometimes it takes a quite a while to load the cartridge images and a lot of times when I'm moving images on the mat, the program will freeze on me. Thanks in advance for any input on this.

Anne King said...

@Chinglish12 - The Craft Room takes a lot of horse power to run. Because of this, I find it 'takes over' my entire desktop when I'm working in it. Like you, I find I have to wait a while for things to move around. And, probably not like you, but typical of me, while I'm waiting I'll open another tab in IE and go do something else. When CCR is up, that's just not possible. There are probably some minimum standards for your computers memory posted on the site somewhere. If you computer is older, it may be that you need to upgrade. (It's easy to pop out old,slower SIMMS for new faster ones.) It may also be a function of your internet provider. I pay up for the fasted possible speed at my house. And,I monitor it so I know I'm getting my money's worth. If you can upgrade your speed with your provider, that my help too. Sorry. Probably not the answer you wanted.

Angela said...

I just found out that they discontinued the gypsy. Pretty upset...but, found out I can upload my files to CCR? I don't have an account yet, contemplating on making one. I've made multiple designs using different carts on my gypsy and read somewhere that it will only cut with that specific cart plugged in. Will I be able to cut these from CCR after they've been uploaded even if it's from multiple carts? Do I need a cart plugged into the cricut still?

Anne King said...

Yes, your gypsy files will work with CCR. No worries there. Before you can cut anything gypsy file or not, you have to link your cartridges. Once you link them all you never have to load them again. You do have to keep one cartridge loaded to cut but it can be ANY cartridge, and you won't have to switch if your files were built with multiple cartridges.

Anonymous said...

I heard that once you link your cartridges they are linked to YOUR CCR account. Is this true? If so, you can never lend a cart to a friend or sell them to someone else? Hmmmm... I think I'll stick with my Expression and my MTC software. I buy cartridges as needed but mainly cut my own images and fonts, dingbats, etc. Best thing I ever did was buy MTC software and return my E2 for an Expression. Just my experience, which is worth about 2 cents ;)

Anne King said...

@Anonymous from the 9/13 post...Yes once you link your cartridges they are linked to your CCR account. You can still share them with friends. You can do it the old fashioned way by handing it to them, or you can log into your account and let them cut from it, or you can share your user ID and password with them and let them cut whatever they want whenever they want, until you change your password. The last one means they too will have to install CCR on their PC. Not a big deal because it's freeware.