Well, I always say, it depends on what you want to do and how much you want to spend. You must also consider if you want a cartridge based system or a computer based system.
Cricuts are nice starter machines. The base price used to be cheaper than other systems. However, that is not the case anymore. Moreover, you have to think about the cost of cartridges. Yes you can find them for $15. BUT that amount can quickly add up! Before you know it, you have spent several hundred dollars.
The Eclips and Ecraft are also cartridge based system. However, they can also use third party software (SCAL and or MTC). You have the best of both worlds, but you have to remember the cost of the cartridges. I don't have either machine so I cannot give my opinion on them. I have read that most people do not like the Ecraft for one reason or another.
For around the same amount of money as the Cricut, you can purchase the Cameo which is a computer based system. You can download the software for free. You can also purchase images for 99 cents or less. You can also merge your images to cut. If you upgrade to the deluxe, you can design your own images or import SVG files. You can cut true type fonts. So in other words you pay for the machine and you can cut what your heart desire with little additional cost. The downside to the Cameo is it is not built for heavy cutting. Some have successfully cut cereal weight chipboard. I have not tried this on mine. I highly recommend this cutter for people who stick to cutting paper, vinyl or card stocks. It cuts beautifully.
If you want something a little more heavy duty (to cut chipboard) you may want to look into a Gazelle, Zing, or Pazzle. I have the Gazelle and I highly recommend it! I have cut so many different materials on it without issue. Also customer service is second to none! I have not used the Zing or Pazzle, but the uses of these machine loves them.
There are also heavy duty cutters such as the Cougar, Silver Bullet and Klick N Kut cutters. But you are looking at a nice bill
So I tried to be unbiased. Ultimately the decision is yours