Looking for a smaller but still extremely versatile cutting machine? Check my Cricut Joy Xtra review! It has all of the features of the original Joy with a few more. Learn about it and see my initial projects here. Cricut provided the machine and materials for this review.
My Cricut Joy Xtra review…is this little machine right for you?
Hey all! It’s been a while since I’ve tried a new Cricut machine. Things have been going just fine plugging along with my Explore 3—and I actually gifted my original Cricut Joy to a teacher last year.
So I was really excited to get the opportunity to review the new version of the Joy—the Cricut Joy Xtra. The truth is that, while the Joy is a fantastic machine, your machine is only as good as the projects you make.
And the Joy didn’t have exactly the functionality I was looking for in a machine. It became hard to justify hoarding so many machines when my Cricut Maker and Explore 3 could do everything I needed the Joy to do.
So I was delighted to see the Joy Xtra come onto the market. It does everything the original Joy does and more, all while remaining smaller and more portable than other Cricut machines. So let’s jump in and have a look!
Cricut Joy Xtra pros & cons
Not into reading? Here is a quick list of high-level things I think are important about the Cricut Joy Xtra machine. Enjoy!
- Compact and portable: The Joy Xtra is a small and versatile machine, making it ideal for those with limited crafting space or who prefer easy storage.
- Larger cutting size: The Joy Xtra can cut shapes larger shapes than the original Joy.
- Print-then-cut functionality: Unlike the original Joy, the Joy Xtra has print-then-cut functionality, allowing you to create stickers and other printables.
- Compatibility with a variety of materials: The machine can cut a range of materials, including vinyl, iron-on, cardstock, labels, Infusible Ink, and more.
- Suitable for personalized apparel: While the original Joy is not designed for personalized apparel, the Joy Xtra’s larger size makes it suitable for such projects.
- Comparable pricing: The Joy Xtra is only slightly more expensive than the original Joy, making it an affordable option for crafters looking for expanded capabilities.
- Print-then-cut requires an inkjet printer: Like other machines, to fully utilize the print-then-cut functionality, you need an inkjet printer.
- Smaller work area: While the work area is larger than the original joy, you can’t cut shapes as large as you can on Explore, Maker, and Venture machines.
- Lack of specialty blades: If you want to work with specialty materials (e.g., basswood, leather) and blades like the knife blade, you’ll need a Maker machine.
- Cricut Joy Xtra pros & cons
- About the Joy Xtra machine…
- A quick rundown of Joy and Joy Xtra similarities
- Cricut Joy vs. Cricut Joy Xtra: How big can they cut?
- A reminder about Smart Materials…
- Can you make stickers with the Joy Xtra?
- What kind of projects is the Joy Xtra best for?
- Testing the Joy Xtra to make two projects
- Cricut Joy Xtra wrap-up
So tell me about the Joy Xtra…
Us small-house, no-craft-room girlies love a small yet versatile machine. If I’m not using a machine, I want to be able to tuck it away in a closet or up on a shelf.
Cricut markets the Joy Xtra as a “fits-in-any-space, looks-good-anywhere smart cutting machine.” That’s music to my ears! And I know this is kind of nit-picky, but I love that it is a neutral color. Wasn’t big on the bright teal Joy.
Also worth noting—if you’re considering a Joy Xtra, the two closest machines you’re also likely considering are the original Joy and the Explore 3 (or 2 Air, which is an older machine but totally valid choice). So I’ll be adding in some comparisons throughout.
A quick rundown of the Joy and Joy Xtra similarities
Let’s touch on a few of the similarities to get those out of the way. Both machines use the same premium fine-point blade and have one tool clamp. They can also both cut vinyl, iron-on, cardstock, labels, etc. (See this list for everything the Joy Xtra can cut.)
They are also both compatible with the same computer/mobile operating systems, and each connects via bluetooth. And the machines use the same Joy branded pens and markers, as well as the foil transfer kit.
They aren’t far off in price from one another, either. The base price on the original Joy is $179, while the Joy Xtra has a base price of $199. So let’s see what that extra cash gets you.
Cricut Joy vs. Cricut Joy Xtra: How big can they cut?
So what’s different? One key difference between the machines is immediately evident when looking at them. The Joy Xtra is a bigger machine. While the Joy is 8.4 x 5.4 x 4.3 inches and 3.9 pounds, the Joy Xtra is 12.5 x 6 x 5.5 inches and 6 pounds.
So they are both extremely portable machines. But the Joy Xtra’s bigger size means that it can cut shapes up 8.5 inches wide using smart materials (and 4 feet long using smart materials). If you’re using a Joy Xtra mat, your max cut size is 8.2 x 11.7 inches, so an A4/U.S. letter piece of paper.
Compare this to the original Joy’s max cut of only 4.5 inches using smart materials (same length, though—4 feet long with smart materials).
This really opens up what you can cut size-wise on the Joy Xtra. The jump from 4.5 inches to 8.5 inches wide is a big one. In fact, it’s bigger than the jump from the Joy Xtra’s max cut width to the Explore 3’s, which is 11.7 inches.
A reminder about Smart Materials…
And because I’ve mentioned Smart Materials a few times, remember that those are the materials you can simply load in the machine and use without a mat. If you buy the machine only, you’ll need to purchase a mat.
However, if you buy the machine and materials bundle, it comes with a mat, sticker paper, and other materials to get you started. I saw a few negative reviews online that the machine didn’t come with a mat…but none of them do. Just something to keep in mind.
Can you make stickers with the Joy Xtra?
Yes, absolutely! That is another key difference and a huge selling point of the Joy Xtra. The original Joy does not have print-then-cut functionality, which is trademarked as an “Easy Printables” sensor.
And you know what that means…you can make STICKERS on the Joy Xtra! I have a post all about making stickers on a Cricut machine. It’s one of my more popular posts, I think because I use a regular home inkjet printer and test different types of sticker paper.
So I’m really excited that the Joy Xtra has print-then-cut functionality. My daughter is in school now, and I’m going to show you some stickers I made using this machine and my home inkjet printer.
Note that your printer does have to be an inkjet printer for your Joy Xtra’s “Easy Printables” sensor to be able to read the markings. One of these days I’ll invest in a fancy inkset printer…but for now, it’s just me and my HP DeskJet 375.
What kind of projects is the Joy Xtra best for?
Obviously stickers 🙂 And quick, smaller projects like vinyl decals, labels, cards, custom mugs, and more. Of note—the Joy Xtra uses the same card/insert system the original Joy uses. But it has a different Xtra-sized mat.
The Joy and Joy Xtra are also both compatible with cutting Infusible Ink using mats. So if you want to use the Joy Xtra to make custom mugs using the Mug Press, you can do that, too.
Cricut’s website says that the Joy isn’t designed for personalized apparel, while the Joy Xtra is. That’s because of the size difference…but honestly, if the design you want to cut out for your item is Joy-sized, it can be used for apparel.
Testing the Joy Xtra to make two projects
I’m going to be testing the Joy Xtra today to make two projects. First, I wanted to make a few small vinyl decals—quick, and easy. Using both regular vinyl and a mat, as well as Smart Vinyl.
And then after that, I’m making some stickers for my daughter’s teacher using an avatar of her. My daughter thought the idea was cool, so I hope the other kids do, too!
Project #1: Easy vinyl decals
From unboxing to finishing the decal on the wall was about 15 minutes—woo hoo! I synced the Joy Xtra to my laptop so we could be mobile and I could actually do the cutting in her room.
First I did a “fairy house door”—have you ever seen those decals on the bottoms of walls or homes? I thought this would be perfect. I picked a color I thought my daughter would like.
Then this project was as simple as me picking some vinyl, putting it on the mat, and cutting it. The Joy Xtra cut beautifully using regular vinyl on the mat.
After that I decided to test the Smart Vinyl. I went a little nuts cutting out a bunch of different stuff. Labels for light switches, a retro cat in a few different colors, a little face for my earbuds case, and an artsy face for a plant.
Project #2: Making stickers
For the second project, I really wanted to test out the sticker-making capabilities. As I mentioned before, I don’t have a fancy printer—but I do have a color inkjet printer that has worked fine in the past when making stickers.
And it worked fine for this project, too! I designed a few stickers for my daughter’s teacher using a blonde avatar in Canva. Then I uploaded those images to Design Space and used the offset feature to add a border around them.
I sent them to my printer, which was pretty seamless. Then once I was done printing them, I loaded them into the machine following the prompts in Design Space. And cut the sticker out!
Also of note, I did this all in my sunroom on the coffee table to show the portability of this. As of now, I don’t have a craft room. They turned out awesome!
After I finished those, I made a few ready-to-make sticker projects from Design Space. Including some moths and rainbow gems. These were both perfect projects for testing out the holographic sticker vinyl, too.
Here’s a look at that process. Really impressed with the holographic sticker paper. Even though it requires an extra step (layering on the holographic sheet), it helps brighten the colors and make the designs pop.
Cricut Joy Xtra wrap-up
Well that’s my review of the Cricut Joy Xtra! Overall, I think this is a fantastic machine that provides a lot of functionality at the price point. It isn’t that much more expensive than the original Joy, but it provides a wider workspace.
And while being smaller than the Explore machines, it isn’t that much smaller. It cuts all of the common things you might want to cut—vinyl, iron-on, Infusible Ink, paper, etc. And, of course, you can make stickers!
If this sounds up your alley, the Cricut Joy Xtra might be right for you. I expect that this will now be my go-to machine based on its ability to be easily stored, its lightweight feel, and its versatility.