I have several cutters including the Cameo. I have manual cutters too. Both manual and electronic cutters come with their own sets of plusses and hassles.
The intricate dies for manual cutters are fussy to cut. Then so are the electronic cutters. Wait till you have to scrape your mat of those teeny tiny pieces and they are all over your carpet even though you have an elephant trash can your using. Ask me how I know this!
I cut out a lot of intricate designs on my electronic cutters. I am the one who is cutting intricate on electronic over manual.
3d items is where the Cameo does really shine especially the intricate items like lace baby carriages and such. The big question is how many 3D items will you be making that will make up the cost of the machine? I ask myself those things before I make a big purchase.
Before I bought the Cameo I asked myself how much would the machine pay for itself with the things I wanted it to do. Print & Cut- Yes, it's paid off. Intricate design cutting- Yes, it's paid off. Intricate vinyl work- Yes, it's paid off.
Definitely the manual die cut companies will be around forever unless the owners retire or sell. Manual die cutting will always have a place. The market has modelers, quilters, jewelry designers, polymer clay artists, and all the other artists of different mediums using those manual cutters and the beautiful dies.
Embossing with the electronic cutters- You can emboss but the Cameo is not going to do a deep emboss. It's a 335 gsm machine so it will be a soft emboss like embossed vellum for example. The Big Shot is a 7000 lb pressure machine. Big difference in number. It's going to do a much deeper emboss. Yes, you can emboss with the electronic cutters and it's a beautiful technique but you won't get that deep emboss. Deeper emboss for electronic machines you will need to look into heavier cutters such as the Zing at 700+ gsm or Gazelle at 500 gsm.
You can make embossing folders with the Cameo to use with the Big Shot, Cuttlebug and other manual machines.
You do have to take in the cost of consumables for the machines. Cameo blades are expensive at $15. You can't replace the blade you have to replace the whole housing. Mats can be reconditioned. If you choose not too mats are around the $12-$15 range. If you do recondition your mats you will need a big can of quilt basting spray around $6. It lasts forever.
Cameo blades do last a long time. Even experts make mistakes. The tips of the blades break off easily. You won't even be able to tell and your cuts will be ragged or ruined. It's best to have two or three blades on hand when learning your machine.
I hope that helps.