My first die cutter was the Epic...first the handle fell off and then the PLASTIC gear broke while I was running a die through...(It was repaired and I keep it as a back up only) I got a Big Shot for my birthday and fell in love with its wider cutting space and the plain heft of it. I use it almost every day and it recently quit cutting and embossing ...on just one side...(Yes! I did call the company, they thought the bearings needed replacig). I felt I got a good deal the first time ($65.00 4 years ago) and had really gotten my money's worth so I purchased another one (Walmart on line had a great deal, I think it was $58.00 and it was shipped to my store so no shipping). 2 years ago for Christmas my husband got me a Cricut and I expanded its use by getting a program called Sure Cuts Alot that allows me to down load free SVG's from the Internet and use the cricut with my computer. I have some REALLY beautiful cuts that I have received for free). The new cricut is not compatable with the program. That being said, I find I only use my Cricut occasionally because I really like the more finished edge of the dies. It comes in handy when you have to make something that you don't have a die for (as I did a few months ago when I had to make a baby card so I found a carriage on one of my cartridges). My friend makes the most beautiful banners using both Cricut and dies. I think both electronic devices to die cut and the different by hand die cutting machines have a place in our craft rooms. I am doomed to using my Big Shot forever though because I am addicted to all the beautiful dies (especially Memory Box, Cheery Lynn and Spellbinder). My friend has a Jaguar and she is constantly frustrated with its performance and wishes she had purchased a different electronic one. I think they all come with their own form of frustration...Everyone I know who purchased an electronic cutter thinking they would never buy dies again...failed....
There is a LOT of good information in this thread....good luck!
Here are a couple cards I made using some SCAL cuts on my Cricut
The first uses Scal along with Spellbinder and edgepunch
Framed Inchies Thank You card by jasonw1 - Cards and Paper Crafts at Splitcoaststampers
This has mostly things from SCAL:
Thank you card by jasonw1 - Cards and Paper Crafts at Splitcoaststampers
This last one the flower and the label was from free SVG's but I think you can really see the rough edges on them!