Yes, you do need a computer to use a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine to its optimum functionality.
All Silhouette cutting machines – the Cameo, Portrait, and Curio – use Silhouette Studio design software, which can only be used on a desktop or laptop computer.
The Cameo series machines - Cameo 4, Cameo Plus, and Cameo Pro - currently list the following system requirements:
- Operating system:
- Windows version 8.1 or higher
- MacOSX 10.10 or higher
- 2 GHz processor
- 4 GB RAM
- 2 GB available disk space
- USB port
- high speed internet connection recommended
Can I use a Mac with Silhouette Cameo?
Yes, Silhouette Studio is available for MacOS desktops and laptops. However, iOS devices – like iPhones and iPads – are not sufficient to run the Silhouette Studio software. You can use the Silhouette Go app for iPhone or iPad (see below) to open and cut pre-existing projects, but you can't use your phone to create or extensively edit designs.
Interestingly, Silhouette Studio's Mac compatibility puts the Cameo machines in a unique category – they are among the few roll-fed vinyl cutters that run on MacOS. Most commercial vinyl cutters run solely on Windows computers, so if you're a dedicated Mac user, Silhouette Cameo machines – particularly the wider cutters like the Plus or Pro – can be a reasonably-priced choice for small business cutting. In fact, the Cameo Pro is the only Mac-compatible 24" vinyl cutter for less than $750.
Can I use a tablet with a Silhouette Cameo?
Yes and no. Yes, you can use a tablet or other mobile device to open and send projects to your Silhouette Cameo machine, but no, you can't use a mobile device to design with the Silhouette Studio software.
The newly-released Silhouette Go app for Android, iPad, and iPhone allows you to access saved cut files from your library and send them to your Bluetooth-enabled machine (Cameo, Portrait). The app is not meant as a replacement for Silhouette Studio; it does not allow extensive editing of your designs, and fonts must be grouped/welded/converted to path in order to be used as cut files.
A bonus, though – Silhouette Go allows you to open and use SVG files saved to your phone, even if you just have the free, basic edition of Silhouette Studio! With Silhouette Studio, you must upgrade to the Designers Edition in order to use SVGs, but the Go app allows you to send SVG cut files directly to your Cameo.
Instructions for downloading the Silhouette Go app here.
Read more about the Silhouette cutting machine lineup here.