Posts Tagged ‘ comparison ’

Physical Comparison: Vitamix Professional Series 300 vs. Blendtec Designer Series

I was holding off on using the Blendtec Designer Series I just got because I wanted to take some good comparison photos of it before I used it.  This post is going to attempt to detail what I see as the major physical similarities and differences between the Vitamix Professional Series 300 (as seen in this post, basically the same as the Vitamix 7500) and the Blendtec Designer Series.  These were the kind of details I would have been very happy to see back when I was shopping for a blender, so I dusted off my DSLR and combined my nerdy interest in blenders with my nerdy interest in photography in hopes that this post will be helpful for some people out there who are looking at these blenders.  (As a camera nerd, I made a conscious decision to take all photos SOOC, no post processing of any type has been done.)

Front and Top Views

The Blendtec Designer Series does a very good job of looking small and sleek. It is smaller than the Vitamix Pro 300, but looks smaller than it actually is. I do like the Blendtec touch panel, but I’m also a huge fan of the simplicity of the Vitamix design and ease of use.

Another thing I really like about the Vitamix is the physical power switch that kills the LED light, minimizes electricity usage when not in use and ensures the Blender won’t be accidently turned on. The Blendtec power button glows fairly brightly as long as it’s plugged in.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered off.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered off.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered off.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered on.

The top of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered on.

The top of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered on.

Back View

One benefit of the larger Vitamix base is that the power cord can be completely wound into the base of the blender or fully extended. The Blendtec has the benefit of a smaller profile, and the cord length should work for most home users, but I definitely appreciated the ability to have a lengthen or shorten the power cord with the Vitamix by winding the excess cable into a guide in the bottom of the blender body.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, showing power cord lengths.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, showing power cord lengths.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, with power cords stored/tied.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, with power cords stored/tied.

Container Blades

One thing that surprised me is how different the blades are. The first physical difference that jumped out when I was looking at these blenders is that the socket connecting the container to the blender body on the Vitamix is much larger than the Blendtec, but I doubt that has a major impact in how either blender performs. The blades, however, are a different story.

The Vitamix family of containers uses a four pronged blade that reminds me of a four-pointed shuriken with two of the four blades pointed up. And blades is the right term, as they are sharp enough to cut.

The Blendtec WildSide Jar and Twister Jar blades vary slightly from each other, the WildSide being larger, but they both have a two blade design. Don’t let the word blade fool you into assuming that they are sharp. They taper on the side of the blade that impacts food, but they are nowhere near as sharp as the Vitamix blades, which I am sure is intentional.

I expect the very different blade designs to have pros and cons for each blender, but don’t yet have enough experience with the Blendtec to know what those are.

The Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series sport very different blade designs.

The Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series sport very different blade designs.

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Containers

The Vitamix container includes measurements up to 64 oz (I’ve actually made double sized batches of hummus before, so it’s blended over 64 oz of hummus on more than one occassion).  The Blendtec book states that WildSide Jar has a volume of 90 fl oz, but for whatever reason only has measurements up to 36 fl oz.  The Blendtec Twister Jar has measurement lines up to 16 oz.  I’m almost certain the WildSide jar would be able to handle 48 oz of almost anything (if not everything) that I’d make in the Vitamix, so I took photos with 48 oz and 12 oz of water in each to show the various sizes.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series containers with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series containers with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Compact 64oz container, Blendtec WildSide Jar and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Vitamix Compact 64oz container, Blendtec WildSide Jar and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Cookbooks

Both the Vitamix cookbooks are larger and thicker at first glance, so if you’re rating them based on how impressive they look on a bookshelf, the Vitamix books win that comparison. I’ve always been a fan of the Whole Foods book that came with the
5200 because of it’s ability to turn the cover into a stand and easily reference a recipe while using the blender.  The Professional Series 300 comes with a nice large hardcover book, but I’m more interested in the contents than anything else, so I’m looking forward to digging into the Fresh Blends book that comes with the Blendtec Designer Series, which apparently has more than 200 recipes.

The cookbooks that come with (from left to right) the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Blendtec Twister Jar (top) and Designer Series (bottom). (101 Blender Drinks [top] also included for scale)

The cookbooks that come with (from left to right) the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Twister Jar (top) and Designer Series (bottom). (101 Blender Drinks [top] also included for scale)

Another view of cookbooks that come with the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Twister Jar (top) and Blendtec Designer Series (bottom).

Another view of cookbooks that come with the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Twister Jar (top) and Blendtec Designer Series (bottom).

Initial Conclusions

Both blenders are impressive beasts.  I’ve used my Vitamix Pro 300 so much that even my second blender container (I have two) is clouded, and the blender is what I’m used to.  The Blendtec is sleek and shiny, especially in these photos, as I waited until after I’d taken these photos to first use it.  Any talk about which is better based on small differences in size, cord length, the inclusion of an on/off switch or a cookbook seems like it would be meaningless for most people, as the real question is:  How do they each perform?

I’m thrilled with my Vitamix, but as I dig though my reasons in that old post, I realize I don’t know enough to know how it compares to the Blendtec yet.  In fact, I’m very hopeful that I’ll find that each blender has it’s strengths and that there will be things that the Blendtec does better.  Looking at the Fresh Blends book, it seems that the Blendtec may have more of a focus on dry grains than the Vitamix.  The Vitamix does have a dry grains container, but I’ve said before that I don’t do enough with dry grains to justify buying a separate container.  Maybe that’s a chicken and the egg issue, and the Blendtec could send me down that road.

Similarly, the Twister Jar is something I’m very much looking forward to using.  I’ve said before that one of the few disadvantages that the Vitamix 7500 and Pro 300 have compared to the 5200 is that the wider container base means that they are not as well suited for very small batches.  While Vitamix does offer a 32oz container, I personally didn’t think it was something I needed, so I’ve made due with the larger container.  I can certainly see the Twister Jar being very good for dips, sauces, baby food and other recipes that are made in very small batches.

I’d love to be able to give a definitive answer on which blender would be good for what kind of person, but I don’t know yet.  Tonight we had pasta, and I wanted to turn some parmesan into parmesan powder, a great use for the Vitamix that I’ve written about before.  I figured I’d try the Twister Jar, thinking that the twister lid might help me mix it more evenly.  The slice of Parmigiano-Reggiano that would easily hit the blades in the Vitamix was long enough that it became stuck in the container, sideways and above the blades, and then mixed unevenly before over-mixing into hot and soft clumps.  I later found a recipe in the Fresh Blends book specifically for mixing Parmesan Cheese, so I’m sure the Blendtec can create better powdered Parmesan in the hands of a more competent user than what I made today, but I clearly need learn some things from the Fresh Blends book and I probably need to learn some other things the hard way as well.

If you’re in the market for a blender, it’s worth pointing out that, similar to the Vitamix refurbished options I’ve written about, Blendtec has a Recertified Blender option.

Please do let me know any question or requests you might have. I’ll learn more about the pros and cons of each blender as this year goes on, and I’d love to share feedback that will helpful to others.

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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.

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