Archive for the ‘ Shopping for a blender ’ Category

Why I Absolutely Love Vitamix

I’ve had good experiences and bad experiences with companies.  A particularly bad experience with Sony, for example, means I actively avoid Sony products, and Bike Nashbar has been great enough that I use them almost exclusively for my bicycle related purchases,  but, for the most part, my experience with companies’ service levels is centered around pretty good and pretty bad.  That said, I recently had an experience with Vitamix that has absolutely blown me away.

In the last several posts before this, I posted multiple videos comparing the Vitamix 7500 with the Vita-Mix 5200. (I’m writing “Vitamix” as it appears on each blender.)  For that reason, I had both blenders on my counter, side-by-side, with both tampers out.

Just a few days before going down to Florida to my parents’ house for Christmas, I started making a frozen mocha drink, and realized that the large block of frozen coffee was just going to bounce around on top of the blades unless I used the tamper to push it into the blades.  So while watching the coffee spin, I took the clear handle off the top of the lid, reached out and grabbed a tamper with my right hand and–you guessed it–I stuck the long Vita-Mix 5200 tamper into the shorter and wider Vitamix 7500 carafe while it was spinning at top speed!  CRACK!
The blades kept spinning, but the jolt to my hand let me know immediately what I’d done.  I took out the tamper, and…

picture of a broken tamper

This is what happens when you stick a 5200 tamper in a 7500…

The part of the tamper that had broken off had already been blended into multiple pieces, and I knew there was no way to save my drink, so naturally I dumped the contents of the blender into the best place possible:  The garbage disposal.  Realizing that I’d followed up one dumb move with another, I decide the best way to get the pieces of the tamper out of the garbage disposal was to turn it on.

Yikes.

I spent the better part of a half hour picking pieces of tamper out of my garbage disposal. Both the blender base and the garbage disposal were now working fine, but the tamper was shattered and the nut that holds the blade assembly in place had been jarred lose by the impact and the blade came off. I’d managed to run my 5200’s tamper and 7500’s carafe in one fell swoop of stupidity.

Having fixed what I could and identified what I couldn’t fix, I drove back to work and called up Vitamix to see what they could do.  Now, I’ve dealt with Vitamix’s support team once before, but that was something that I expected would be covered by Vitamix’s warranty.  I did not know what to expect this time, as I knew I was at fault here.  The woman on the other end of the line laughed with me at my story, and then told me that they would take care of both the 5200 tamper and the 7500 blade assembly.

I explained that I was heading to Florida in just a few days, and I was hoping to bring my 5200 with me as a Christmas gift for my parents.  Even better than replacing both parts for free, she sent the blade assembly to my neighbor (since I wouldn’t be here to get it) and sent the tamper to my parents’ address, so the tamper would show up while I was there.

True to her word, the tamper showed up while I was at my parents’, which allowed us to make four batches of hummus while I was down there.  The blade assembly (which I just changed without trouble) showed up at my neighbor’s while we were away. I’d read a lot about Vitamix’s and their competitors (particularly the Blendtec) before buying mine, and I was pretty sure the 5200 was right up there with the best of them when I bought it, but between the improvements in the 7500 and the absolutely amazing service, I’m certain as I can be that there’s no better blender out there than my Vitamix 7500!  (If you are interested in picking one up, I do recommend buying it directly from Vitamix.com
)

Hopefully my experience are helpful for anyone who’s wondering what kind of service Vitamix provides.  I can confidently say they have exceeded my expectations!

Update (3/23/2013): In addition to the refurbished 5200 I mentioned, there is now a refurbished 7500/Pro 300/Creations Elite available. I wrote a post about it, and I think it’s a fantastic option to consider for anyone thinking about picking up a Vitamix.

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Is the Vitamix 7500 worth the extra money?

I received the following comments on one of my YouTube videos:

nice video. I’m very happy with my 5200 which I purchased at costco for a good price. I don’t plan on getting the 7500 but do you think it’s worth the extra money? great video and looking forward to more.

The answer to that question is a qualified “yes”.  (Obviously, the biggest qualification is how much “extra money” someone’s paying for the 7500.)

To give better context to my answer, I thought I’d share my updated feedback on the Vitamix claims for the 7500 that I originally shared in a post back in September:

  • Greater than 2 horsepower motor to process dense ingredients with ease

Yes, the Vitamix 7500 does process dense ingredients with ease. I still don’t care about the horsepower number, as I’m just interested in how the blender actually performs.  That said, it definitely performs.  The original hummus recipe that came in the 5200 cookbook instructs you to “Blend for 1 minute, using the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades while processing.”  The Roasted Red Pepper Hummus recipe that comes in the recipe book for the 7500 uses the exact same instructions, but when I made hummus with the 5200, I found the tamper to be necessary.  When I make the same hummus with the 7500, not only is the tamper not necessary, but the way the hummus blends, it’s clear that it’s all being processed evenly.  The sesame seeds I use are completely blended and the texture is excellent.  Even in my first attempt, the tamper was not necessary to make a Banana Milk in the 7500, and carrots and similar vegetables blend in the 7500 smoothly where the tamper and water were needed for the 5200.

Simply put, the tamper stayed in the 5200 lid when not in use because I needed it more often than not, but the tamper isn’t needed for the vast majority of the same recipes when I use the 7500.

  • Vibration dampening technology for noticeably quieter performance

Yes, it is noticeably quieter.  As I answered in the comments section of an earlier post, the 7500 is definitely quieter than the 5200, even at full speed.  At lower speeds, the difference is significant, but at it’s highest speed the difference is definitely not huge, and would be very low on the list of improvements the 7500 has that I’m appreciative of.

  • Ultra-responsive Variable Speed Dial and pulse feature for precise recipe creation

The speed dial now offers speeds 1-10, and that’s it.  It used to be that you needed to dial from one to 10, and then flip the switch to high to blend at high speed.  That “High” switch has been replaced with a pulse switch.  This does make normal use slightly easier, as you need only deal with the dial.  While the instructions state to always start the blender at 1 (as with the 5200), in both normal use and when using the pulse switch, the powering on of the blender seems to automatically throttle itself on the 7500, and accidentally starting it on 10 or high doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on the 7500 as it did on the 5200.  (Full disclosure:  It’s so easy to use the blender without resetting to one every time that I left the lid off of some frozen pina coladas I was making when adding some stevia, and turned the blender back on [thinking it was set at one] while it was still at 10.  Only my face and dignity suffered, the blender had no problems spinning up to high speed.)

  • 64-ounce container designed to fit under most kitchen cabinets.

As I mentioned in my first post, I don’t really care about this.  I’m sure it’s nice for others, but it’s not why I upgraded.  There is an unexpected beneficial side effect that I’ll mention below.

Now, there are a few things not on the list above that I really like.  The biggest difference is the power switch on the side of the blender.  I don’t know whether the 5200 uses any more power than the 7500 while plugged in but not in use, but with two young kids, I appreciate the fact that the blender has an on/off switch that makes it substantially less likely that someone will accidentally turn it on.  The LED lights when the blender is on are a nice touch as well.

I’m also pleasantly surprised by the benefits of the wider blender container.  Part of the need for the tamper with the 5200 was the tendency of food like celery, carrots and frozen bananas to stay upright longer, requiring a longer blending time, and a large handful of leaves, such as spinach, could easily become stuck above the blades due to the narrow container.  The blender container on the 7500 means leaves fall into the blades and vegetables that would stay horizontal in the 5200 longer fall into the blades quicker on the 7500.

Now, I recognize that most people aren’t going to want to spend +$500 on a blender, but the Vitamix 5200 is not that much cheaper, so if you’re willing to pay for a new 5200, I would recommend buying the 7500 if you can afford it.  If someone is weighing their option between a refurbished 5200 and a full price 7500, I would say it comes down to how much you’re willing to spend and how much that extra bit of performance is important to you.  As I mentioned in my last post, if you’re somehow able to find someplace that has sells Vitamixs that has a 20% coupon that doesn’t exclude Vitamixs, that could be a better deal than buying from Vitamix.com.  But in my experience, and current prices at Vitamix.com, I’d say the answer to whether the Vitamix 7500 is worth the extra money depends on whether you view the refurbished 5200 (or a great 5200 Costco deal, as the commenter above found) as the best bang-for-your-buck.  If you’re willing to spend the extra money on the 7500, I definitely believe it is the best home consumer blender you can buy, and a noticeable improvement over the 5200.

Update (3/23/2013):  In addition to the refurbished 5200 I mentioned, there is now a refurbished 7500/Pro 300/Creations Elite available.  I wrote a post about it, and I think it’s a fantastic option to consider for anyone thinking about picking up a Vitamix.

Hunting for Black Friday specials on a Vitamix

Update (11/28/2014):  This year Vitamix has excellent promotional pricing on most of their Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Next Generation Blenders available as of this update.  My post with more details is here.

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I like window shopping.  Or, more accurately, I should say I like hunting for deals on the web.  When i bought my Vitamix 5200, it was only after multiple days of making sure I tracked down the best possible deal.  I cannot say the same for the 7500 I just bought, and with all the Black Friday deals going on, I decided to go hunting for Black Friday blender and, more specifically, Vitamix deals, and I was very happy to see that there currently is no better deal available for the 7500.

Whether it’s a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon, or a coupon from some other retailer that sell Vitamix blender, there’s inevitably terms like this:

 The discount cannot be applied to gift cards, shipping, or sales tax. Offer excludes the following: All-clad, Alessi, DKNY, Dyson, kate spade, Kosta Borda, Miele, Monique, Lhuillier, Mambe, Nautica, Orrefors, Riedel, Shun, Skybar, Swarovski, T-Tech, Vera Wang, Vitamix, Waterford, Wusthof, or Zwilling, Baby Jogger, BEABA, BOB, Britax strollers, Bugaboo, Bumbleride, ERGObaby, Maxi-Cosi, Mountain Buggy, Mutsy, nap nanny, Orbit Baby, Pediped, Peg Perego, Quinny, Robeez, Svan, Teutonia, Uppa Baby, baby furniture, diapers, wipes, baby food, portrait studio services or formula”

Now, that said, if anyone is interested in a Vitamix, and you live a near a brick-and-mortar Bed Bath and Beyond, and they’re happy to extend 20% off to their Vitamix blenders, that’s possibly the best deal you can get.  Along with a “20% off your entire order” coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond, I also received an HSN.com coupon for $20 off an order of $40 or more (Coupon Code #115924 for anyone who’s interested in using it, since I won’t), but unlike QVC, HSN.com doesn’t sell Vitamix blenders.  QVC sells the “Creations II” along with the 5200, but as far as I can tell, those are the same blender, and the Certified Reconditioned from Vitamix.com for $329 is a far better deal in my mind.

It looks like there was some kind of Black Friday Vitamix special in 2011, but there’s no news about any Vitamix Black Friday specials that I can find this year.  There were some dubious sites linking to high priced Vitamixs at Amazon, and there were some sites talking about last year’s sale, but it seems like, at least at the moment, the best deal anyone is getting on the 7500 or a (refurbished) 5200 is from Vitamix directly.

Update (11/23/2012):  As seen on this page, now through Cyber Monday, Vitamix has taken $50 off the 5200 Healthy Lifestyle package.  If you’re looking for just a blender, my new post gives my answer on whether not the 7500 is worth the extra money.  If you’re interested in a new 5200 (not the Vitamix 5200 Vitamix 5200 or the newer 7500, both of which I recommend) and a dry grains container, this is a good sale, otherwise, I still recommend the refurbished 5200 or the newer 7500.)

Update (3/23/2013):  In addition to the refurbished 5200 I mentioned, there is now a refurbished 7500 available.  I wrote a post about it, and I think it’s a fantastic option to consider for anyone thinking about picking up a Vitamix.

Making a Banana Milk in the Vitamix 7500 and Vitamix 5200 side-by-side (with video)

One of the very first things I made with my 5200, and one of the reasons I bought it, was Banana Milk.  Basically, blend a frozen banana and milk.  It’s awesome.  Unfortunately, it will eventually (or quickly) break normal (weaker) blenders, and getting the entire banana blended so there are no chunks left takes time or a good blender.

Now, with the 5200, I got pretty good at learning how to use the tamper to quickly make awesome banana milks with no chunks, but I wanted to see if the 7500 could do the job in a reasonably similar amount of time without using a tamper.  I also just wanted to blend something in my 7500, and I knew my son would help me drink the second banana milk.

I made a video, which is below, but the summary is:  Yes, the Vitamix 7500 handles a frozen banana without a tamper better than the 5200, likely because of a combination of the larger jar circumference and improved power.  I would likely still use a tamper regardless, but who knows, maybe with the right mix of milk to banana, I might find myself skipping the tamper altogether for future banana milks.

Anyone interested in asking questions about the 7500, 5200 or the differences between the two?  Let me know in the comments!  Anyone interested either of the blenders in the video?  (The Certified Reconditioned Vitamix 5200 or the new Vitamix 7500?)  They’re both at Vitamix.com and you can get free shipping with coupon code: 06-006651)

Update (3/23/2013):  In addition to the refurbished 5200 I mentioned, there is now a refurbished 7500/Pro 300/Creations Elite available.  I wrote a post about it, and I think it’s a fantastic option to consider for anyone thinking about picking up a Vitamix.

Bachelor Man Green Smoothies (★★★★☆) and I ordered a Vitamix 7500!

My family is finally back home after spending five weeks in Japan without me.  (I will be able to get time off work to accompany them year, but work kept me from being able to go this year.)

While they were gone, I used my blender a lot, as my cooking skills are limited when it comes to recipes that don’t involve a blender.  I made a frozen mocha drinks, peanut butter, banana milk and the like, but what I made almost every single day was a particular combination of vegetables that I figured I’d share the recipe, as I’m pretty fond of it.

Bachelor Man Green Smoothies (★★★★☆)
2-3 cups of spinach
half a green bell pepper
half a large cucumber
3-4 stalks of celery
cilantro to taste (I was using a lot)
small slice of fresh ginger
1 apple (I wasn’t very particular on what kind, but not huge)

I’d blend all that up, and by the end of the five weeks I found myself adding water to start because it made the blending easier, but early on, I’d try to blend it with as little water as possible, bike in to work with a biking water bottle filled with the dense mix and mix it about 1:1 with cold water from the water cooler at work to enjoy throughout the day.

I am sure that that mix does not sound attractive to people who haven’t had green smoothies, but as a fan of ginger, cilantro and spinach, the above mix seems to be the ingredients that consistently hit the spot.  The four star rating is basically only because I recognize that other people won’t be nearly the fan of this that I am, but it is my favorite green smoothie.  (For whatever reason, apples seem to work better than everything else as a light sweetener.)

Now, the other news is that I actually did go ahead and order a Vitamix 7500.  On a lark, I called up the person at Vitamix that I bought my blender from, and was asking about the 7500. Turns out that she’s actually had a few people mention that they called her because of the post I made in 2011, and she said she’d love for me to share her details again:  Brenda Kilbane at Vitamix, 1-800-848-2649, extension 2305, and free shipping code 06-006651.

Turns out that if you’re an existing Vitamix 5200 owner, you can trade in your 5200 for $100 off.  Now, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to do that, but it’s cool that there is a trade-in option. Another available option was that I can try the 7500 for 30 days and return it without paying anything, which makes trying out the 7500 risk free.  Since that’s the case, I decided I’d like to try the Vitamix 7500 and 5200 side-by-side and see how they both perform in different mixes.  One of the main things that prompted this is the amount of using the tamper and/or adding water that I was using for the Bachelor Man Green Smoothies above, and I did decide I want to try the 7500 out for myself and see how it might perform.

If the 7500 is a better blender, I’ll likely keep the 7500 and give my 5200 to my folks for Christmas.  They were crazy about my blender the last time they visited, so I know they’d like it and get a lot of use out of it, and I’d be happy to keep the blender I’m most comfortable with.  If the 7500 doesn’t seem like an improvement to me, I’ll probably return the 7500 and keep the 5200.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get my parents a refurbished Vitamix 5200, since it’s substantially cheaper than the 7500.

Expect to see some updates in the near future on how the 5200 and the 7500 stack up side by side.  If anyone has any specific questions about the 7500, just let me know!

Vitamix 7500 now available

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Vitamix 7500.  Now it’s actually available.

I don’t have anything new to say about the blender, but I was interested to see the price, which wasn’t available a few weeks ago.  Right now, in my mind, the main options for people in the market for a Vitamix are a $529 Vitamix 7500, a $449 Vitamix 5200 with a compact container, or $329 Certified Reconditioned Vitamix 5200 with the 64-ounce container.  All three have free shipping with coupon code 06-006651.  (2017 Update: That code does not work, you can get free shipping by visiting Vitamix through this link.)

I basically said as much in my earlier post (the first link above), but now that I know what the actually pricing is, I’m very glad I bought the blender I did, when I did, for the price I did.  Make no mistakes, the non-refurbished models come with 7-year warranties instead of 5-year warranties, and there is something to be said for the joy of buying something that’s brand new as opposed to refurbished.  I am sure there are those would look at all the information and choose one of the more expensive of the two options above, but if my blender went missing tomorrow, I would buy the refurbished model again in a heartbeat.  Now, granted, my blender, which gets a lot of use, has already been serviced by Vitamix once, but I that was a very positive experience that is influencing my decision, ensuring that I have no regrets from my original purchase last year.

Edit:  Actually, I think I might be too quick in writing off the 7500.  I was making a green smoothie the day after making this post and realized that I was adding water to thin out the mix, and remembered reading about the “process dense ingredients” blurb about the 7500.  My 5200 blender is plenty powerful, that doesn’t mean the 7500 isn’t noticeably more powerful.

If anyone out there has first hand experience with both blenders, I’d be very interested in hearing some opinions from people who’ve been hands-on with both.

Vitamix 7500, coming soon to a kitchen near you

Update: I did buy a Vitamix 7500, see my unboxing and a side-by-side comparison

Update 2: I comment on the new 7500 features in this post.

So, I just checked my mail today, and I had a large envelope from Vitamix.  They were writing to let me know that the Vitamix 7500 is coming.  Apparently the Vitamix 7500 will be available from September 17th.

Now, I usually tend to get excited about buying new tech toys, and sometimes get a little bummed when my toy is no longer the newest, fastest thing on the block…and while the 7500 looks cool, I actually don’t really see anything that makes me care that I have the “old” 5200.

The letter I got does mention some of it’s new features:

  • Greater than 2 horsepower motor to process dense ingredients with ease
  • Vibration dampening technology for noticeably quieter performance
  • Ultra-responsive Variable Speed Dial and pulse feature for precise recipe creation
  • 64-ounce container designed to fit under most kitchen cabinets.

Now, considering that I didn’t buy my blender, let alone my car, on a published horsepower figure, I’m not sure how that compares to the 5200, although I don’t have a problem “processing dense ingredients”.

The quieter performance will probably matter more to other people, but to be honest, a quieter blender than the 5200 could, and likely will, still be significantly loud. You don’t buy a blender this nice, and this powerful, without simply accepting that noise will be a byproduct of it’s usage.

The speed dial seems unchanged, but rather than a “variable/high” switch, they’re going with a pulse feature.  I don’t know if that means that “high” will now be 10 on the speed dial and pulse will be something you have to hold down, or how that will work.  Since all my recipes and experience with my blender are based on the “variable/high” switch, I’m actually wary of change in this area, as I’m not sure if this new feature would actually be an improvement based on how I’ve learned to use my blender.

As for the 64-ounce container being designed to fit under most kitchen cabinets, this is something I definitely see being helpful for other people, but my blender base and blender container are both prominently on my cabinet counter top at all times, so, again, not a benefit for me.  I do like to make smaller recipes if I’m just making a drink for myself, so the skinner, taller container seems like something I might prefer, but I can absolutely see the shorter, fatter container being a selling point for people who don’t want a blender on their counter at all times. 🙂

Looking at the New at Vitamix part of the Vitamix website, there’s not yet any mention of the Vitamix 7500, but it looks very similar to the Professional Series 750 blender that is available on that page for $689.00.  (The two main difference I would expect to see are that the 750 on that page includes some icons in addition to a speed dial that goes from 1-10, and I expect the 750 costs more than the 7500 will.)

Either way, I don’t think the new blender is likely to disappoint people, but I’m definitely very happy to continue rocking my 5200 for the next however many years I have until my warranty expires, and even then, I’ll probably just use my 5200 until it just doesn’t go any more. 😉

My guess is that the 7500’s pending release is why the Reconditioned Blender with 64 oz. Container is in stock in black, red or white for only $329, and despite my tendency to like shiny, new toys, that’s probably the route I’d take if I were in the market for a blender today.

Update (3/23/2013):  In addition to the refurbished
Vitamix 5200 I mentioned, there is now a refurbished 7500/Pro 300/Creations Elite available.  I wrote a post about it, and I think it’s a fantastic option to consider for anyone thinking about picking up a Vitamix.

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