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Nov 3, 2013 06:32 PM

Un-impressed with Vitamix

So I finally bought a Vitamix 5200 and I have to say, I guess I was expecting a lot more for 500 dollars.

1. The container sits loose on the base, like it's going to fly off if I don't hold the container down from the top (I called Vitamix and they claim this is "normal"). It's just bizarre that you have this extremely powerful blender with blades going at 100mph or whatever and the container is loose and moving side to side while it's on.

2. I made a triple berry (blueberry, strawberry, blackberry) smoothie and the Vitamix did NOT pulverize the berry seeds. Are you kidding me? For 500 dollars I want you to pulverize diamonds if it put them in there!

3. It does blend better than your standard $100 blender at Macy's but I'm not sure 400 dollars more better. The controls don't even have auto-shutoff settings for "smoothie," "shake," etc.

Is the Blendtec better at pulverizing than the Vitamix? Is it also sturdier? Does it have settings for foods, drinks etc? Maybe I bought the wrong Vitamix. I dunno. I am disappointed.

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  1. There are some comparisons to Blendtec among the Amazon comments for the Vitamix 5200, the vast majority of which are rave reviews.

    1. We got a Vitamix as a hand-me-down from a family friend who wanted something that would fit under her cabinets. While I am happy with the $100 price tag, I wouldn't be willing to spend $400 on one. The blender that it replaced, a chrome and avocado osterizer, which was beginning to smell just the littlest bit like burning electricity when it ran, worked just as well. The main benefit to the vitamix is that you don't have to disassemble the pitcher portion to clean it.

      My in-laws have a blendtec, and it's so complicated, I find it a little intimidating to use (ridiculous, I know), but the vitamix is so simple (a couple big switches and a dial) that I much prefer using the vitamix to the blendtec. And I haven't noticed a difference in function between the two.

      12 Replies
      1. re: LaureltQ

        I have a Blendtec and once you own one the control buttons become easy. we've had ours since 2007 and works like brand new. it's strong and sturdy but you do have to hold the top to ensure nothing flies out. I once got lazy and the top came off. I've made so many things in our Blendtec however, there are a few things that have been fails and perhaps it's just the nature or the limitations of a blender or I was doing something wrong. First, we tried to make cashew butter. it just never emulsified and was crumbly and clumpy. i suppose I should have added some oil. The other fail was ice cream and the one ingredient banana ice cream. The "ice cream" was sort of like a milkshake. it never became "ice cream" and when I put it in the freezer it just came out cold and hard. Banana ice cream was a tough one too. supposedly you're supposed to be able to put a frozen banana in a blender and it comes out like ice cream. well, mine came out like frozen crumbly banana pieces. I emulsified it with some coconut milk and it was again like a milkshake.

        1. re: LaureltQ

          I find it interesting that you find the Blendtec complicated. I've always found it easy, but I'm so accustomed to it that the Vitamix looks too foreign and 'intimidating' to me (too minimalist I think?).

          1. re: Tovflu

            i'm with tovflu here - i consider myself more of a minimalist. i've checked out the latest vitamix and THOSE buttons seem complicated to me! why do you need a "wash" button?? just turn the thing on… why do you need a smoothie vs. cold desserts button? just turn the thing on… the blendtec is completely user friendly (the pre-programmed cycles make sense to me!), seems smaller overall, the lid is easier to deal with (just because it's lighter weight), and is a great machine. plus, mine has a counter on it: i've owned it 6 months: we've turned it on over 900 times. that means, counting wash cycle, we've used it over 450 times - making it cost effective in my mind. I never realized how much we would use our high speed blender!

            on the plus side for vitamix: i DO love the big new container (it is wider at the base than my blendtec, but i think if i got the wild side jar it would be about the same).

            1. re: rmarisco

              Interesting. I haven't seen some of the newer Vitamix models. My Vita-Prep 3 has:

              ON/OFF switch
              HI/VARIABLE switch
              Variable speed dial

              That's it and that's the way I like it.

              1. re: cacio e pepe

                Cacio, do you find that your Prep 3 sounds "rough" or kinda choppy when running on variable speed in the ~3 - 5 range?

                1. re: MacGuffin

                  Mine doesn't seem like it holds a constant speed at those settings. It'll go up and down, almost like it's pulsing, but doesn't sound as though it's coming apart.

                  1. re: LaureltQ

                    I called technical support in the commercial division (they're the last word in these matters; I only posted because it was late Friday). It's apparently quite normal, especially for an empty container or running the base without the container. Interestingly, for comparison's sake, I tested my 5000. Same thing, just not as loud.

                  2. re: MacGuffin

                    It does. Nothing drastic, but I do notice it. Seems a little like a muscle car engine idling. When you open it up more it's much smoother. Same for you?

                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                      My blade runs incredibly smooth.

                      That doesn't mean the contents don't "bounce" a bit and give a sound that could be confused for the blade speeding up & slowing down...but that's exactly what that sound is in my unit...just the contents bouncing around. Speed up or slow down the blade and it forms a perfect vortex.

                      1. re: JayL

                        "That doesn't mean the contents don't "bounce" a bit"

                        My concern was performance with an empty container or no container at all. I was testing a new machine prior to actually using it and so was running it empty. The "roughness" isn't something one would notice if the container is loaded. Sorry I didn't make that clear when I posted.

                      2. re: cacio e pepe

                        Ditto. And as I said, same thing with my old 5000, just quieter. I ran across a deal too good to pass up for the Prep 3 and rather than put $100 into my 5000 (I didn't notice the blade assembly had loosened and the bearings are stripping--totally my fault for not checking), I bought this one, although not without misgivings (i.e. the warranty). Still, the tech support guy I spoke to was very pleasant and registered my blender as well (thank goodness it wasn't hot at that price). It's a lot louder than my 5000 and frankly, I don't notice any difference in performance or results. I'll eventually trade in the 5000 on a "next generation" model, probably a refurb.

                  3. re: rmarisco

                    Those settings are for a more powerful blender. My friend has a blender that even has an ice cream setting and i put frozen bananas in with a little hemp/soy milk(only about 2 tbs to get it more lubricated), it is amazing! Just like ice cream! Texture is beyond perfect. So the settings are for different modes of the motor to do best what you are using it for. The motor will run at different speeds and pulse differently based on the setting. It is even powerful enough to make cashew butter (though you always need to add a lubricant which can be water, juice, milk, oil, etc. And the blender has air bubbles that get in it when making ice creams, butters, and any thick food. I just push the food down with a spoon to get out the air). I even blend soups for a creamed effect in that blender! If you want a blender that does everything and is an all in one device and you do not need an ice cream maker, food processor, whisker, etc. Then get a really good blender that has a lot of settings and a very powerful motor. The speed of the motor isn't as important as how powerful it is. I just checked, it is an Oster blender. It all comes down to lifestyle. Do you like to cook for yourself or do you buy food from the store and eat out all of the time. I am vegan and have specific diet needs, so i make everything myself. Here is a great video on blenders. Equipment Review: Best Blenders:

              2. to add to your list:
                imho, if i'm spending that much money, i want a GLASS blender jar.

                1) i've become less trusting about the safety of plastic
                2) glass jars go through the "heated wash" cycle of my dishwasher perfectly, whereas plastic ones don't. why do i want to spend so much in order to do more dishes by hand?
                3) visually, all the plastic jars get cloudy, and i don't like the idea of a very costly item that looks "old" and cloudy

                7 Replies
                1. re: westsidegal

                  I'm pretty happy with my Vitamix, but I agree with westsidegal about the plastic blender jars. Mine are getting cloudy. They also dry with spots on them, unless you dry every nook and cranny by hand. Glass would have been so much better.

                  I have not found the jars particularly easy to clean, especially after blending fresh herbs and oil together. If the blade needs to be wiped to remove residue, it's a bit awkward, not to mention dangerous, to plunge your hand down deep into the jar with a cloth.

                  I too had trouble achieving anything approaching peanut butter, without having to add oil and eventually hot water to the peanuts in the jar. The salesperson insisted that the wet items jar was the appropriate jar, but considering the difficulties I had, I'm wondering if I might have fared better using the dry items jar, which I've never used, by the way. Short of grinding grain into flour, I'm not sure why I would have need for it.

                  1. re: 1sweetpea

                    RE: making peanut butter. The salesperson was right--the dry jar is best for nut butters. There are two things that will make nut butters easier:
                    1) using enough nuts (ideally 3 cups for narrow VM containers, 4 for the wide one)

                    2) it's easier with roasted nuts.

                    You'll most likely have to use the tamper, but you shouldn't need to add oil or water.

                    1. re: artiek

                      I too have trouble making nut butter in my 750, but I think i is because I only make a small amount - I cannot be trusted having peanut butter in the fridge… no self control. So I make just enough for one or two sandwiches, plus a spoonful, or two, to tide me over until I can make my sandwich.

                      I have a heck of a time getting it all out and off of the blades. A VM rep told me to make a smoothie right after I make the nut butter… it doesn't take it all out, but sure makes a difference, plus I get a nut taste in my smoothie.

                      1. re: Canthespam

                        Have you considered getting a 32-oz container? A bit of added cost, but it will make your small batches of peanut butter much easier....

                        1. re: artiek

                          I have only made it in my 32 oz container, my bad for not mentioning that. - The 32 oz is the one I use daily for my smoothies and smaller things. It is really really hard to scoop out the peanut butter … very narrow on the bottom. I have never made a big batch, so I haven't used the 64 oz. In fact, I rarely use the 64 oz except for soups etc..

                    2. re: 1sweetpea

                      I just got a Pro 750 and I've had no problems with making nut butters (peanut, cashew, almond, and tahini) or with cleanup afterward. Filling the jar with warm water a couple drops of dish soap and running on high for a minute has taken care of cleaning the blades and the inside of the jar. A quick wipe around the rim and the outside with a soapy rag and a rinse and the jar is clean.

                      1. re: cstefan206

                        Try my friend Lea Ann's trick and make a smoothie in the jar before cleaning it.

                  2. I think this just isn't the product for you. You can spend all the money in the world, but if it's on something that isn't meeting your needs then it's not the right purchase.

                    You have to remember that the Vitamix is a product for the food industry. Yes, they've had a presence in the home market and are expanding their line to increase consumer appeal, but they are mindful of keeping that "professional" reputation.

                    They don't have a "smoothie," "shake" or other settings because it's not useful in the professional kitchen. The 6000 line has a timer, but that comes at the expense being into dial in the speed of the blades.

                    I kind of have to laugh at the suggestion that the Vitamix isn't sturdy. I've got a 3 HP engine in mine that can run several hours a day for years. I can't think of any appliance that I own that is sturdier. The container does lock in once the coupling mechanism locks into the drive socket. The way that drive socket delivers power to the container is also why a glass jar for a Vitamix is currently a challenge to design safely. I do prefer glass, but, as with my Cuisinart, I'm fine with the plastic here.

                    Blackberry seeds floating in a smoothie are a tough get for any blender. The Vitamix will eventually break them down, but it'll turn your ice cold smoothie into soup before that happens, I think. I think this is an unrealistic expectation of any blender.

                    In the end, the Vitamix doesn't seem like the choice for you. I say return that sucker and use the $$$ to get a blender at 1/5 the price. Get something that works for you.

                    Me, I adore my Vitamix. I will be very surprised if I ever need to buy another blender again.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                      Seconding the idea that maybe this just isn't the product for you. I feel as though your expectations were...a bit high. Three berries with the smallest seeds, you're bound to get some seeds that haven't been totally demolished (unless you plan on standing there all day running the thing)...

                      I have a Blendtec and adore it but from your post I suspect you won't be much happier with it. I feel like mine sits stable on the base, but maybe I'm not interpreting that right (judging by artiek's post). It blends pretty much everything I throw at it, including things I don't intend to, like when I accidentally left a pit in a date I tried to blend :( ( It has also tolerated a lot of abuse without having any issues *knock on wood*). If my Blendtec ever died on me, I would happily buy another, even at the admittedly crazy (for my budget) price, but it is still just a blender and you have to look at it within that context.

                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                        "You have to remember that the Vitamix is a product for the food industry."

                        Vitamix produced home-use blenders exclusively long before it started (successfully) manufacturing blenders for commercial use. And you're right--glass is a major safety hazard for a machine this powerful. If you catch "Papa" Barnard's infomercial, he demonstrates why, very early in the game, the company went from glass to stainless steel: (this is really cute, BTW).

                        1. re: MacGuffin

                          "oh mother, mother, mother..."

                          this man was amazing! what a preacher!!!! i wonder what happened to him?
                          also, i had no idea vitamix had been around for so long.

                          that video is great - it should be all over the internet! it needs to go viral. thanks for the link - i loved it!

                          1. re: rmarisco

                            " i wonder what happened to him?"

                            He died. :)
                            Seriously, isn't he WONDERFUL? I don't know why the link for this is broken on the company's site. He's obviously passionate about his product and it's a family business, still in the same family. I think his great-granddaughter is CEO at present. And I just found this (something of which I was unaware): . This lady would've been "Papa's" daughter-in-law.

                          2. re: MacGuffin

                            I just watched this video - thanks for the link! "You are what you eat." I LOVE that this guy was making smoothies in the 1950's!!

                            I look at my Vitamix and think "man, I don't have the Bakelite handle!!" LOL.

                            I wonder if any of these old machines are still around.

                            1. re: breadchick

                              He really was a visionary, wasn't he? I'll bet his kids and grandkids adored him.

                              I've seen some pretty old ones on eBay. Not unpredictably, they still run fine. My 4000 was at least 12 years old when I traded up to a 5000, and it ran as well as the first day it arrived.

                        2. Many (most?) first time users are unsettled by the way the container sits on the base, but it really is perfectly stable. Actually more stable than a Blendtec, although stability isn't really a problem with any of these blenders.

                          I have yet to see (or hear of) any blender capable of completely liquifying blackberry seeds.

                          If you want auto-shutoff settings you could consider exchanging for the 6300/Pro 500, which are currently a steal of a deal if you look at the reconditioned units.