If you go to Cricut.com and sign up for their message boards you can get a lot of great tips and lots of cricut owners are always willing to help out. I have read on there that the cricut is awful to try and cut felt with ... the blade gets too tangled up in the felt.
I just ordered the Cricut Expressions from HSN. They are the only site that offers an extended warranty and they have a lot of great bundles. In hind-sight, I should have ordered a bundle with access versus carts b/c I plan to buy the SCAL program so that I don't have to buy the carts.
The biggest reason, for me, why I didn't go with a Sizzix was b/c you are limited to the size of lettering that you can buy. They only go up to 2" - maybe 2.5" if you're lucky and I want to make bigger.
If you check out CL, there are people selling their dies for cheap. In my area there is a lady who has 4 sets of alpha's that are retired for $25 a set.
If you go with a Cricut, on the website in the message boards area there is a member who has a store and she has carts for $30-$35 on a daily basis. Versus the $90 at JA and elsewhere.
Good luck with whatever you choose
PS. If you join the cricut message board (the website) you are NOT allowed to discuss SCAL - it will get removed. Cricut has something called Design Studio or something like that, that is similar to SCAL (I'm guessing at this).