An In-depth Brother ScanNCut2 Review: Read Before You Buy

For crafters, it can take a lot of work to set up a die cutter to get the exact patterns and images you want. For those who work with variable designs that aren't quite part of the standard, it can be a time-consuming process to make sure your components are ready to go. The original Brother ScanNCut die-cutter took away that issue by allowing you to scan your images directly into the die cutter and go from there.

The original ScanNCut earned its fair share of mixed reviews. In 2015, it made way for the ScanNCut2, which boosted the same tremendous scan feature with a lot of other extra goodies. If you've been eyeing this die cutter and want to know if it's worth your time, then read on.

What Does the Brother ScanNCut2 Do?

scanncut2 at work

One of the essential things to note is that there are two versions of the ScanNCut2: the CM350 and the CM650W. While they're both the same type of product (a die cutter with a built-in scanner), there's a noticeable gap in some of the available functions between the two. That gap in capacities also leads to a difference in price.

Comparison

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Shared Features:

  • 4.85" Large LCD Touch Screen Display
  • Wireless Network Ready
  • Wireless Connection via PC/Tablet
  • Direct Connection via USB Cable
  • Scanning Color Recognition
  • SVG File Import Capability
  • Pen Holder
  • Standard Mat
  • Middle Tack Adhesive Mat
  • Standard Cut Blade and Holder

CM350:

  • Rhinestone Trial Kit
  • 531 Built-in One Point Designs
  • 100 Built-in Quilt Designs
  • 7 Built-in Fonts
  • 2 Color Pen Set

CM650W:

  • ScanNCut Online Activation Card
  • 962 Built-in One Point Designs
  • 140 Built-in Quilt Designs
  • 15 Built-in Fonts
  • 12" x 24" Scan Function
  • SVG and PES File Import Capability
  • 6 Color Pen Set
  • 2 Erasable Pen Set
  • High Tack Fabric Support Sheet
  • Iron-on Fabric Contact Sheet
  • Touch Pen and Spatula Pad

The biggest differences between the two are that the CM650W comes with a lot more accessories to get you started. Some of these extras are ones you may not even need depending on your range of crafting projects. If you don't have much need for some of the higher support sheets and pens, you may be better off picking up the CM350 and purchasing any other accessories as you need for them.

However, the CM650W does come with the ScanNCut online activation card, which is necessary to take advantage of the wireless features that the ScanNCut2 has. There's also the 12" x 24" scan function, which easily outclasses the CM350's 12" x 12" capacity. This difference is ultimately one of the deciding factors in which version of the ScanNCut2 suits you.

In summary, the CM650W is the higher-end machine, with more built-in designs, more scanning space, and more accessories.

Scanning

scanning design

The scanning feature is easily the biggest draw to the ScanNCut series, and the ScanNCut2 delivers when it comes to performance. It lets you scan almost any design or image, detecting and creating cut lines. Once it's picked up the picture, you can make any necessary adjustments to what areas you need cut out and let it take care of the rest.

You have three primary scanning modes:

  • Outline detection, which allows you to cut around the outside of a shape
  • Region detection, which makes cuts both inside and outside lines
  • Line detection, which only cuts lines inside the design

Gray-scale scanning is best for most images, and line detection mode is only available for the gray-scale setting. However, color recognition works great for when you're trying to cut around specific colors. The ScanNCut2 lets you select the number of colors, too, making for more accurate cuts.

Blades and Mats

The Brother ScanNCut2 comes with a German carbide blade that provides a fantastic quality of cut, no matter what type of project you're doing. The turn dial makes it easy to adjust the blade depth to what your project requires. While it's a great blade, it isn't quite suited for working with thicker materials, like metal and wood.

blades mats

The size of your mat depends on the model you chose, with the CM650W having the larger of the two. The included mats let you switch out the type to fit best the material you're using. With the low-tack mat, you don't have to worry about delicate fabrics and papers ripping and pulling while the ScanNCut2 works with them.

Touch Screen Display

touchscreen display

The ScanNCut2 boasts a much bigger screen than its predecessor, with the display measuring in at 4.85". The high-quality image makes it easy to see what's going on. What's also great is that the screen allows you to handle a lot of selection and edits of your project, including:

  • Welding shapes and fonts
  • Changing size and location
  • Add margins around shapes
  • Manipulating fonts
  • Rotating and mirroring images

In effect, you can efficiently operate the ScanNCut2 straight from the touchscreen without even needing to connect to a computer. Because of this feature, you can use this die cutter in any situation, which is excellent for those who like to craft on the go.

My Vinyl Direct

Connectivity

As if the fully functional touch screen wasn't enough to keep away the shackle that is connecting your die cutter to the computer, the ScanNCut2 goes one more level and has full wireless capabilities. You can access your computer to download and upload designs straight to the machine and let it do the rest. You can also use the included software to make even more detailed tweaks to your pictures.

The wireless connectivity also extends to tablets and phones. Better yet, the necessary software is handheld compatible. If you happen to create your design on your phone, you can send it straight to the ScanNCut without needing any extra transfers.

One thing to note is that the ScanNCut2 requires an online activation card to take advantage of the wireless features. However, only the CM650W comes with it included. If you purchase the CM350, you'll also be looking at buying the online activation card as an extra as well.

Both ScanNCut2 models have the option for USB connectivity with your computer. However, neither model comes with such a cord included. If you're dead set on putting a wire between you and your die cutter, you'll need to buy it separately.

Use

There is a tiny bit of a learning curve when it comes to scanning, cutting, and drawing, however, the ScanNCut is relatively easy to use and learn. If you follow the included instruction pack, you can even start cutting designs right out of the box.

You can design files through the machine, a tablet, or computer. If you use another program for designing, you'll need to convert it into one that the ScanNCut2 can read. Thankfully, it's capable of handling SVG files, which saves the trouble of difficult conversions. You can naturally also scan in your designs as well.

Once you settle on your design, you just set up the ScanNCut2 with the necessary cutting depth based on your materials, and everything is set to go. If you routinely work with fabrics, it can be best to keep a log about what settings work best with different material types and thicknesses so that you get the most out of your machine.

The combination of accuracy and ease of use make for a satisfying die-cutter across the board.

Pros and Cons at a Glance

Pros:

  • Built-in scanning
  • Multi-device and wireless support
  • Precision Cuts
  • Free software with no need for subscriptions

Cons:

  • Limited cutting space for larger projects, even with the CM650W
  • Software is basic
  • Somewhat more expensive than other die cutters

Pricing

Brother ScanNCut2 Home and Hobby Cutting Machine with Rhinestone Trial...
  • Add sparkle to almost any ScanNCut project with the Rhinestone Trial Kit; Includes all the materials you need to create...
  • 4.85 inches LCD touch screen display, 30 percent larger than before
  • Wireless Network Ready, PC Connectivity, or Stand Alone Over 600 designs and 7 built in fonts

With the two models of the ScanNCut2 having such different capabilities, there is a comparable difference in price as well. The MSRP for the CM350 is $$ while the CM650W clocks in at $$$. That's a big gap in cost, so it's best to consider which features you need as you move forward with your investment. Think about how many of the accessories you'll use if you go for the CM650W.

You should note that, while you can purchase the ScanNCut Online Activation Card for your CM350, it is close to $50. Since you're likely going to get the activation card anyway (since the wireless capabilities are so flexible), that might be enough to justify going up for the CM650W.

Public Perception

The original ScanNCut faced mixed reviews upon its release. It's safe to say that the ScanNCut2 does a lot to improve upon that, and responses are positive across the board. Crafters love the ScanNCut2's capability to scan, cut, and draw without being stuck to your computer. The wireless capabilities work well with tablets, too, give a lot of flexibility for crafting anywhere.

The thriving online community also says a lot about how users feel about this product. Crafts connect to share ideas and features, and both paper and fabric crafters have found great uses for the ScanNCut2's vast array of features.

How it Compares

When you start lining up comparisons, it makes sense to look between the CM350 and CM650W to start. Both the ScanNCut models offer a fantastic range of scanning and cutting options. The CM650W is more of a specialist machine, while the CM350 does more than enough for casual crafters.

CM650wx

Looking at other die cutters, like the Silhouette Cameo and Circuit explore, the ScanNCut is a little limited in what you can do with the included software. The alternatives provide much more flexibility into what materials are available for your projects. The ScanNCut software also has a bit of a learning curve in comparison to the others, plus is a bit more expensive than competing models.

The Silhouette Cameo also far outclasses the ScanNCut2 in size, with a massive 12" x 120" cutting area. If you need a lot more space to work with, especially for vinyl cutting, the Cameo is more suited to your needs.

However, the ScanNCut2 does work better as a stand-alone machine than the others, and it's also the only option for users who want a built-in 300 dpi scanner for their work. This feature makes the product very attractive for people who prefer doing their design work on paper as opposed to screens.

Out of your die cutter options, the ScanNCut is the top pick for paper crafters who want a lot of handmade flexibility in working with designs.

What We Think

As Brother probably intended, we love the ScanNCut2's scanning capabilities. When it comes down to it, the inclusion of the scanner is likely going to be your deciding factor when opting for the ScanNCut2 over other die cutters. The ability to make custom designs and have them neatly cut out without any fuss is fantastic, especially since you can do it without connecting to the computer.

The freedom from wires is also a nice touch with the wi-fi capabilities and large screen for working directly on the ScanNCut2. The high level of flexibility also makes this product appealing, especially for those who focus on paper and fabric designs.

If you like to work with harder materials, like metals and woods, you'll likely be much happier with a different die-cutter. However, if you work with thinner materials and handmade patterns, then purchase the ScanNCut2.

We recommend the CM350 because of the more accessible price. Unless you need all the accessories that come with the CM650W, it's better to purchase what you need so that you get your money's worth. However, if you need a more extensive project space than 12" x 12", the C650W will serve your needs better.

No matter which model you choose, you're getting an excellent and flexible die cutter for all sorts of crafting projects.

Deals

Unfortunately, because of the CM650W’s high specs, you can only get it straight from Brother or in a physical store. That means that $499.99 price tag isn't going to go anywhere.

However, the CM350 is the much more commercial product, meaning you can find it on Amazon. Don't be afraid to hunker down and wait for a deal to make your purchase have even more value (and save a little extra cash so that you can pick up the wireless card while you're at it).

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