8 Best Vinyl Cutter Reviews (Updated 2019)

Best Vinyl Cutter ReviewsFinding a high-quality vinyl cutting machine can be a difficult task. There are tons of tools on the market, and most of them perform the same top-level task: cutting vinyl. However, if you genuinely want a professional-level end product, you are going to want to do some research to ensure you receive a vinyl cutter that matches reliability with speed, and that you aren’t left with a useless machine.

Poor quality vinyl cutters will lead to wrong outputs and negative feelings towards the entire process. One of the most significant errors in judgment that we have noticed with those considering purchasing a new cutter is that they only look at factors such as price, speed, and force before pulling the trigger on a new machine. This approach has many faults, and instead, we suggest putting the focus first on practical use and capabilities, and then a more comprehensive range of factors and features.

But in the world of vinyl cutters, which reign supreme? Let’s dig in for more.

Vinyl Cutter Review Center 2019

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In our extensive research, we have found eight vinyl decal machines that we have determined are the best on the market. They range significantly in almost all aspects and cover a massive array of features, options, and types. Let’s check each one of them in detail and tease out what features make them useful and unique.

#1 – Cricut Maker

Cricut MakerThe Maker is the latest vinyl cutter option available from Cricut. As it is still relatively new to the market, we believe that it has already done quite a bit to cement itself as a beautiful vinyl cutter option. But, what makes this vinyl cutter a unique choice?

Features of the Cricut Maker

For starters, the Maker comes with a rotary cutter, that is far superior to its counterparts. Any vinyl cutter can do its job on fabric and such. However, it takes the strength of a rotary cutter to perform the brute force necessary for that extra deep cut (we discuss cutter depth further into this guide). This is one of the most reliable vinyl cutters for its price range cut wise.

Additionally, the Cricut Maker comes with a new software update. While Cricut once used Flash exclusively, they have since switched to the web-centric Design Space software suite. This software package provides far stronger usability and better user experience overall. However, this means that it requires a higher speed internet connection than some may have to work correctly. But Cricut thought of that as well, providing owners an offline option that integrates with the Design Space iOS app.

Instead of storing files and designs in cartridges, the Cricut Maker allows users to save their work in cloud storage. However, it should be noted that this also requires relatively high internet speeds.

The Cricut Maker’s older sibling was the Explore Air 2. Unlike the previous model, it arrives without the patented Smart Dial. As one may be aware, Smart Dial works wonderfully to select proper settings. However, with advancements in the vinyl machine technology of the Maker, the Smart Dial is no longer a requirement to get everything done.

Finally, the Cricut Maker vinyl cutting machine comes with a two-tool capacity. What this means is that you can switch between tools without needing to stop. This provides ample workplace efficiency, and the ability to take care of multiple cuts to material in rapid succession. One can even add in a pen and scoring tool, allowing you to switch between the two without a long pause in between.

What We Enjoyed

  • The Cricut vinyl cutter machine was one of the most reasonably priced machines we researched, and with its robust feature set, is one of the best pound-for-pound vinyl cutters we found.
  • Thanks to their rotary blade, the Maker can work with fabric and thicker materials (up to 2.4 millimeters to be exact) than just vinyl.
  • Ditching the aging Flash base and going with the internet and cloud-based Design Space software suite provides a substantial boost to the overall effectiveness.
  • The adaptive tool system with the Maker automatically controls the direction of the blade.

What Could Use Improvement

  • While the Design Space switch and cloud storage for design files is a beautiful new addition, those with slower internet connections may experience difficulties getting things to work correctly.
  • The cutting area is 12 by 24 inches, which may seem a bit limited when compared to alternative options in our list.
  • Unlike some competing vinyl cutters, the Cricut Maker does not come with a knife blade pre-packaged.

Our Final Verdict

Overall, we are highly impressed with the Cricut Maker. While marketed as an entry level vinyl cutter, it is a durable option for people of all skill levels and comes with the accessories and features to make it a power player in any household. This reflects in many of the vinyl cutter reviews for this product.

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#2 – USCutter Vinyl Cutter MH 34″

Uscutter Vinyl Cutter Mh 34The USCutter Vinyl Cutter MH 34″ is one of the most popular cutters that straddles the line that exists between commercial and personal usage. This machine is a stellar choice for large-scale homeowner and small business setups. It is slightly less expensive than most average desktop vinyl cutters. However, despite this, it provides a far larger cutting width. The 34-inch edition, the one reviewed here, can cut up to 31-inch wide materials.

Features of the USCutter Vinyl Cutter MH 34″

The MH from USCutter comes with an amalgam of accessories, including vinyl rolls, a knife, a squeegee for accuracy, transfer tape, and magnetic blanks. Additionally, owners receive free customer service and support for life, via both chat and phone, from the friendly professionals at USCutter.

The only thing that we found problematic with this machine is the lack of a basket for materials. A materials basket is a pretty important part of the vinyl printer, as it prevents the development of static on your vinyl workpieces when passing the sheets through the machine. A lack of a materials basket is a commonality in larger vinyl cutters, and the USCutter Vinyl Cutter MH 34″ is no exception.

What We Enjoyed

  • The USCutter MH has some highly innovative spooling capabilities inside the machine. These were impressive, incredibly functional, and not something we expected in a vinyl cutter at this price point.
  • While a more substantial and broader vinyl cutter, the MH is still compatible with standard cutting blades. This product also comes with three blades pre-packaged, another great advantage.
  • This product comes with a pen adapter, which affixes to the cutter in place of a blade and allows for drawing instead of cutting. It also provides USB functionality, allowing it to connect to a PC.
  • The blade holders of the MH are Roland compatible and can be easily accessed without having to take apart the vinyl cutter printer, which is the bane of existence for some higher powered large cutters.

What Could Use Improvement

  • As we mentioned, the complete lack of a materials basket is the most significant drawback to this machine.
  • While there is a USB connectivity option for PC, there is no compatibility with Apple computers, completely disregarding a quarter of the computer market.

Our Final Verdict

Overall, this is a high-quality product capable of a wide array of work. While it has a few drawbacks, we believe that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and make this the best large-format vinyl cutter that we have found in our research, and one of the best vinyl cutting machines we found.

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#3 – Silhouette Cameo 3

Silhouette Cameo 3The Silhouette Cameo 3 has quite a bit going for it. This vinyl cutter boasts some impressive features, including a dual carriage and fully automated blade settings. Dual carriages are impressive, as it means owners can handle both the tracing and cutting processes in a single step. However, the features go a lot deeper, into something relatively unheard of with vinyl cutters.

Features of the Silhouette Cameo 3

One of the most significant advantages of the Silhouette vinyl cutting machines is the community that surrounds them. Once purchased, users have access to a message board full of crafters and cutters who provide very insightful wisdom.

Additionally, the Silhouette Cameo 3 comes with Silhouette’s Studio design based software, as well as recently integrated Bluetooth technology, making this one of the most tech-forward vinyl cutters we have experienced. While it may appear as nothing more than a standard out of the box printing option, the Cameo 3 is an excellent intermediary point for those looking to get into the vinyl cutting game. Finally, the Silhouette Cameo 3 easily supports an extensive range of potential materials beyond vinyl, including fabric and paper.

What We Enjoyed

  • The Silhouette 3 comes with built-in Bluetooth functionality, allowing for seamless integration with a variety of devices, including both Mac and Windows computers and operating systems.
  • This product comes with a wide variety of accessories in the original package, including a dust cover, power cord, and USB cable, among others.
  • Automatically adjustable blades decrease work time and help alleviate the possibility of injury when manually adjusting blades between cuts.
  • This product comes with a touchscreen that is very sensitive and large enough to keep from causing improper or repetitive button pushes.

What Could Use Improvement

Many have noted that the Bluetooth is complicated to set up correctly, and is prone to disconnecting at times.

When compared to higher priced home vinyl cutters and commercial cutters as well, the cutting force of the Silhouette 2 is relatively weak at 221 grams per second.

Our Final Verdict

Overall, we were quite impressed by the Silhouette Cameo 3. With its valuable and knowledgeable community, Bluetooth connectivity, seamless touchscreen, and Mac compatibility, it is one of the most reliable vinyl cutters on the market dollar-for-dollar.

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#4 – Cricut Explore Air 2

Cricut Explore Air 2The Cricut Explore Air 2 has been around the block a few times, first coming to market in mid-2015. Since its introduction, it has experienced incredible sales success, becoming one of the most popular vinyl cutters manufactured. This product set Cricut apart in terms of iMac style fashion-forward focuses, including allowing users to pick between chic color choices.

Features of the Cricut Explore Air 2

One of the most notable features of the Explore Air 2 is that it is incredibly quick, all thanks to the “fast mode” available. In addition to speed, the Air 2 lets you cut an insane amount of items, from card stock to vinyl, leather to even thin iron.

Are you the type of person that has very close ATD (attention to detail)? If so, the Cricut Explore Air 2 has a good amount of customization and flexibility to ensure the final details don’t go untouched. It can also utilize Cricut’s pens, which can replace the blades, offering stunning “handwritten” project results. Additionally, users of the Cricut model here have over 350 fonts at their disposal, providing them the ability to develop custom designs in minutes, or create their own custom fonts and store it for future use!

Another excellent addition for the Cricut vinyl cutter is its “smart set dial,” which assists in discovering the most robust settings for your projects. Also, with its Bluetooth connectivity, you can use a desktop, laptop, phone, and even iPad to design and cut.

Much like the Cricut Maker, the Explore Air 2 comes with Cricut’s Design Space software suite. This software is notoriously simple to use, and is cloud-based, making it almost impossible to lose your designs. Also, hundreds of pre-made designs exist in the repository for Design Space as well, which can save you time in the cutting process if something already exists.

What We Enjoyed

  • This cost-effective product is chock full of innovative spool functions and comes packed with features like USB and power cables, a blade holder, a pen holder, and more.
  • The blade holders are Roland compatible, meaning that they have quick access for changes and replacement.
  • The easy-to-use vinyl cutter has multi-color workflows, allowing users to work without the need to swap between rolls, making things far more efficient.

What Could Use Improvement

  • The Design Space software offered by Cricut is web-based, meaning you will need a fast internet connection to use (although there is offline access on the iPhone).
  • Don’t try cutting sandblast resist vinyl or fabric with this vinyl cutter. Many have noted that it does not do a good job cutting these materials.

Our Final Verdict

Cricut makes beautiful mainstream products for a wide variety of craft work at reasonable prices. While there are a few doubts, overall this is one of the most popular vinyl cutters on the market today, and with good reason. We had no question putting this on our list of the best vinyl cutters.

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#5 – Brother CM350

Brother Cm350Brother’s CM350 vinyl cutter is more commonly known as the “ScanNCut2”. This cutter is a direct rival to the above mentioned Silhouette Cameo 3 and Cricut Explore Air 2 in terms of price, convenience, and popularity. We are fans of its built-in scan feature, something not found in competing machines, and its wireless transfer of designs, cutting the need for bulky and inconvenient cables.

Features of the Brother CM350

Cricut’s Design Space software has a required monthly subscription, as well as the need to buy cartridges in many cases for navigation. Instead, Brother’s ScanNCut Canvas software is free and tablet compatible. Sadly, some have noted its lack of comprehensive capabilities and lack of user-friendliness. As such, we recommend this vinyl cutter for people using existing designs or scanning in their hand-drawn designs for cutting.

The Brother CM350 has an impressive cutting width maximum for a desktop device at 11.5 inches wide. Additionally, the machine has a large touch screen, making operation a snap! Additionally, the vinyl cutter is not an atrocious monster like some alternatives, so it won’t look out of place if you keep it on your desktop. Finally, the cuts made with this machine are notorious for being very precise and reliable time after time, something many have grown to appreciate about the Brother brand.

What We Enjoyed

  • The in-built scanning functionality is something impressive that we didn’t notice with any of the other vinyl cutters on our list.
  • Options for both direct and wireless connectivity and use with both Windows and Mac machines and devices allows us to use any equipment necessary to get the job done.
  • This product works wonderfully for more than just vinyl, excelling at fabric and also mixed media related crafts, resulting in a genuinely cross-functional cutter.
  • Unlike Cricut, the design software involved with the Brother CM350 is not a subscription model, so there are no recurring costs.

What Could Use Improvement

The primary point of improvement for this cutter is the abilities provided by the software package. Lagging far behind Cricut’s software suite, there have been many issues with sluggishness and lack of proper functionality with Brother’s ScanNCut Canvas.

Our Final Verdict

Overall, we were very much impressed with the Brother ScanNCut CM350’s offerings. While the software was a bit dated and issue-prone, everything else about this machine blew us away for functionality, ease of use, and feature sets. What we have grown to expect with the Brother brand of products.

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#6 – Silhouette America Portrait 2

Silhouette America Portrait 2The Silhouette America Portrait 2 is the follow-up to the original Silhouette Portrait, with enhanced functionality and feature sets that make it an outstanding vinyl cutter for a variety of needs. This product has become extremely popular in recent years, mainly due to the fantastic versatility offered. This machine lets owners cut vast ranges of materials, going beyond vinyl into card stock, fabrics, heat transfer material, transparencies, paper, vellum, adhesive, and magnetic paper.

Features of the Silhouette America Portrait 2

Unlike Silhouette’s previous models, America Portrait 2 is both Pixscan and Bluetooth compatible. Additionally, this machine arrives with automatic blade features, streamlining many processes, and ensuring the safety and operation of the device is practical and straightforward. There are four blade options with this machine: AutoBlade, deep cut blade, standard blade, and fabric blade.

Additional noteworthy options and functionality in the Silhouette America Portrait 2 include compatibility with both PC and Mac computers, a powerful suite of preconfigured designs, and lightning fast printing with laser-focused accuracy. Also, unlike software by Cricut and Brother, there is no need for an internet connection to get work done.

Finally, much like many of the other vinyl cutter options, we have gone over in the course of our product reviews, this option comes at a surprisingly affordable price point. And the price is well worth it, especially with a laundry list of improvements that Silhouette has made to this upgraded version of the original and successful Portrait vinyl cutter.

What We Enjoyed

  • With its Bluetooth and Pixscan functionalities, PC and Mac compatibility, as well as well-timed auto blade functionality, this is one of the most work-effective vinyl cutters we have found.
  • This product has extreme versatility, with the ability to cut a wide range of materials and access to over 50 pre-made exclusive designs.

What Could Use Improvement

  • While there are four blade options available with the Silhouette America Portrait 2, we wish that a few others would have come as accessories with the main product.
  • The basic version of Silhouette’s design software is somewhat limited, and upgraded versions of the software are another $50 and $100 respectively.

Our Final Verdict

Overall, the Silhouette America Portrait 2 is very similar to our above-reviewed Silhouette Cameo. The most crucial difference between the two is the size, with the Cameo being far larger (and it also comes with dual carriages). If your budget is not very limited and you are looking for a larger machine, the Cameo should be considered. But if you want portability and price to play in the Portrait is the best option for you.

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#7 – Brother DC200 DesignNCut

Brother Dc200 DesignncutBrother’s DC200 DesignNCut is a lower cost alternative to the ScanNCut reviewed above. Remember, as the name suggests the ScanNCut is a dual-function scanning and cutting machine, while this product is wholly focused on the cutting aspect.

Features of the Brother DC200 DesignNCut

The Brother DesignNCut does not have an inbuilt scanner, a display screen, or any pre-installed patterns. Remember, it’s only for cutting. This means that the cutting capabilities are stronger, and the wifi connectivity found with alternatives remains the same at a drastically reduced price point.

With this connectivity, you can integrate with the ScanNCutCanvas software suite offered by Brother, and use that to handle all of your scanning and modification needs.

What We Enjoyed

  • Brother themselves said it best regarding their software: No annual fee, no subscriptions required. With it’s easy to use interface, you can start and edit your projects with ease.
  • Alignment and usage are simple and straightforward. There is minimal need for user experience in vinyl cutting to get started using this machine.
  • Much like the “other Brother,” the DesignNCut has a possible pen attachment, that allows you to print designs on the workpiece before cutting.

What Could Use Improvement

  • We wish this machine came with more accessories when purchased out-of-the-box. Brother touts their line of accessories for the machine, but it arrives quite barebones.

Our Final Verdict

Overall, we were quite impressed with the DesignNCut for its user experience and multi-function capabilities. If you are looking for a reliable mid-range vinyl cutter, this is an excellent option for you, although accessories will need to be purchased separately for use. Think of this as the KitchenAid mixer of vinyl cutters.

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#8 – Xyron Creative Station

Xyron Creative StationThis is a step in a different, more spartan direction. The Xyron Creative Station is a solid vinyl cutter that has one interesting feature: there is no electricity involved in the process. It is a relatively compact machine that contains a foldable crank-style handle.

Features of the Xyron Creative Station

This machine is far more compact than other machines that have made our list of the best vinyl cutter. Most of this compactness comes from the need for no electronic external or internal components. However, despite its diminutive sizing, the Creative Station has many functions. It works for more than just vinyl cutting, and forays into lamination, sticker development, and magnet creation.

As we have mentioned, the Xyron Creative Station doesn’t need any electricity, and doesn’t require batteries, and it doesn’t even use heat. You heard that right. Instead, it utilizes dropped-in cartridges that are a breeze to change out to ensure the function needed is achieved. Additionally, this machine comes loaded in advance with a 25-foot by 9-inch adhesive cartridge. Other options for cartridges include:

  • Permanent or repositionable adhesives
  • Adhesive/laminate combination
  • Magnet/laminate combination
  • Dual-sided laminate

What We Enjoyed

  • There is next to no barriers to entry for using this machine. Put your workpiece in and turn the crank, that’s it! This is the simplest and most easy to use vinyl cutter on our list.
  • No need for power, batteries or heat means that you won’t have to worry about replacing batteries, power draw issues, locations of outlets, or burning your workpiece (or home!).
  • With this machine, it is simple to laminate objects that are larger than what you would find with electronic vinyl cutters.

What Could Use Improvement

  • This machine requires constant presence when using. If you stop turning the crank, your workpiece stops being manufactured. Additionally, some have complained of excess residue.

Our Final Verdict

Overall, we were surprised about how impressive this machine was. It’s small size allowed it to be put anywhere and stored away quickly and easily, and its lack of electronics made it near impossible to break. While it isn’t a conventional vinyl cutter, and acts more like a utensil, we still found it high-value enough to include in our list of the best vinyl cutters.

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Best Vinyl Cutter Buying Guide

To try and alleviate some of the burdens that come with a decision such as this, we have researched and created a guide to finding the best vinyl cutter. This comes with several suggestions that we have based on product history, reviews, brand capabilities, features, our in-depth research, and our expertise. Let’s start with the basics!

What is a Vinyl Cutter?

Vinyl cutters are pieces of equipment usually used to trim vinyl and associated materials into shapes or letters. Typically, a vinyl cutter will be about the size of a desktop computer case, although some are much larger.

Some models of vinyl cutter can be connected to a computer via a cable or wirelessly, while others are reliant on cartridges to send and receive instructions on the designs to be trimmed. Regardless of the source, the machine works like a printer, with a slider that moves back and forth over the material being worked on. However, instead of printing on the material, it makes small cuts.

Once complete, the vinyl or other material is removed from the cutter and then peeled off the backing, then used for cards, scrapbooks, t-shirts, and additional heat pressed materials, signs and other crafts.

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Vinyl Cutter

If you are starting in the vinyl cutting world, the perfect vinyl cutter for your needs should place the most important focus on a machine with viable performance, as well as extended durability. However, there are plenty of additional factors that should be considered before purchasing a vinyl cutter.

There are a ton of models out there, and filtering out the junk can sometimes be challenging. Here are some of the most common factors that should be considered before purchasing a vinyl cutter.

Factoring Purpose

Vinyl cutters can be sequestered into two categories that cover almost all machines: commercial and personal. Which machine purpose you are going to want to purchase is dependent on what the intended use will be.

If you are planning to create complex signs and designs in large volumes, you should look for commercial models that are well-suited for welding, printing, scanning, and more. Typically, these models will allow you to work on many other materials as well, not just vinyl.

However, for home use and hobbyists, you will be just fine with a smaller, more personal machine. These models will almost always come in more compact sizes. They will be quieter and more effective at smaller, quicker jobs. Additionally, their affordability and ease of use make them perfect (albeit limited in options and capacity) machines for beginners.

Factoring Cutting Depths

It will be noted that many vinyl cutting machines come at a variety of cutting depth options. Most manufacturers will inform users that the depth will be dependent on both the machine blade itself and the pressure applied to the blade. The max cutting depth that is possible for most models of vinyl cutter is two millimeters.

We highly recommend that you select a machine that has as high of a cutting depth as possible. This ensures that you will have a far easier time cutting paper and thicker materials such as leather.

Factoring Driver Motors

Different models of vinyl cutter will also utilize different motors. Two main options are commonly used: mechanical motors (or steppers) and servos.

Digital servos have been proven to be the smoother-working of the two. They provide far more precise movements of the cutting heads as well as drive motors. This improves the overall accuracy of the machine. Conversely, as actual gears drive the mechanical stepper motor, it can become quite noisy while being operated. Additionally, it provides limited accuracy when it is used to cut smaller images.

While the motor type may be more of personal ideology, we highly suggest going for servo motors if your budget and allocations allow.

Factoring Compatibility

Compatibility is something that many beginners will not pay close enough attention to when they are shopping for vinyl cutters. However, this is a very crucial consideration, especially given that you will be able to have your vinyl-cut design on all materials.

Look to see what kinds of materials the machine you are looking to purchase can cut besides vinyl. Search for one that states it can cut many materials. However, don’t believe everything you may read. Look to user reviews and product reviews as well, and ensure that they genuinely do cut through a multitude of materials. The more materials the machine can cut, the better it will be for your needs in the long run.

Factoring Ease of Use

Ensure that the machine you are planning to invest in arrives with simple to use operational mechanisms, and are as easy to use as possible. Check how simple it is to perform standard and routine tasks, such as cartridge replacement with printing pens, loading paper, and vinyl into the machine and more.

We also highly advise that you confirm your vinyl cutter works appropriately with some of the most common ancillary materials, like leather, magnetic paper, and adhesive paper.

Some vinyl cutting machines arrive prepackaged with software that works to make your working processes far simpler. These machines provide a variety of free designs as well that can be utilized for quick projects, perfect for beginners.

A few of the other factors that contribute to vinyl cutter ease of use includes automation settings, wireless capacity, and more.

Factoring Availability of Accessories

In your search for the best vinyl cutter, you may also notice that packages and accessories vary wildly from product to product, even those we reviewed above. Some cutters include just the machine and a manual. Alternatively, other devices provide additional tools and accessories, prepackaged. Examples of some of the included tools are vinyl trimmers, hooks and spatulas, pickup tools, and more. Some even come with vinyl sheets of varying colors, sketching pens, adhesive papers, and more.

In our professional opinion, purchasing a vinyl cutter that arrives with additional tools and accessories will help you save money and hassle further down the road compared to buying them separately. This is similar to our opinion about accessories for a screen printing machine.

Factoring Warranties

Vinyl cutting machines have a lot of moving pieces. As such, they are prone to malfunctioning. Even the highest quality, best vinyl cutting machine is error-prone from time to time. Even the most experienced vinyl cutter users can agree on that. For this reason, ensuring you get a model that provides users with some warranty period is a consideration that is often overlooked in this small appliance.

Besides ensuring that your machine is of high quality, warranties act as a safety net of sorts. If your device stops working correctly, you can use the warranty to request a replacement or have the issues solved by product experts.

Factoring Overall Product Cost

Regardless of the simplicity or advancement of the vinyl cutter you are looking to purchase, the cost is most likely one of the most significant considerations that you are taking into effect right off the bat. As with all other products on the market, vinyl cutters will vary wildly in cost. Models that come at a higher price will likely be of higher quality, and vice versa.

Don’t let this discourage you, though. It is still very possible to discover a very high-quality and handy vinyl cutter that matches your personal preferences and needs at a far lower cost than what you may have anticipated. Just be smart when researching, and use buyer’s guides and extensive product reviews like ours.

Sources:

Wikipedia

Makezine

Chron