Ninja, Vitamix share top spot in latest blender Ratings

Consumer Reports News: January 30, 2013 03:38 PM

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In Consumer Reports' latest blender Ratings, featuring a dozen new models and a slightly revised scoring system, a $60 blender and one costing $450 are tied for first place, ahead of eleven other recommended models. We also reveal a number of duds, including one from Food Network celeb Sandra Lee that sets a new low for underachievement.

For our latest blender report, we eliminated the cheese grating test, after readers told us this is not a task they do often in the blender. As a result, we had to recalculate the overall scores for all models in our Ratings, minus the cheese grating score. When we did, the $60 Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004 pulled even with the $450 Vitamix 5200 atop our Ratings, both with an overall score of 91 out of a possible 100.

Overall scores aside, these are two very different devices (and not just in their price tags). The Ninja features a unique top-mounted motor that you have to press down on to operate. And it comes with three containers of varying size: a 48-ounce pitcher, 40-ounce processing bowl, and 16-ounce chopping bowl. We used the largest container for our various blending tests, in which the Ninja made a superb smoothie and frozen cocktail, pureed soup to smooth consistency, and crushed ice into fluffy snow.

The Vitamix performed equally well in those tasks, and it looks like a conventional blender, with a 64-ounce container that sits on the blender base. Unlike the single-speed Ninja, the Vitamix 5200, like the newly tested Vitamix Professional Series 750, features multiple settings, allowing you to chop, cream, blend, grind, churn, and even heat. We put that last claim to the test in a separate evaluation, making a hot tortilla soup in the 750 model. The Vitamix blended the various ingredients to roughly 140 degrees in about five minutes. The Blendtec Total Blender Designer Series, $460, which also makes our latest recommended list, achieved similar results. None of the Ninja models we tested make heating claims.

As for the underachievers, we've already alluded to the Sandra by Sandra Lee 53156, by the semi-homemade queen. The $45 device was dismal at making smoothies and only slightly better at purees for an overall score of 9. Other newly tested models that scored below 25 were the NutriBullet NBR-12, $100, the Hamilton Beach Power Elite Multi-function #58148, $40, the Kenmore 4702, $36, the Frigidaire Professional FPJB56B7MS, $130, and the Big Boss Multi Blender, $50.

Fortunately, the 13 models that make up our recommended list give you plenty to choose from, ranging in price from $60 to $650. In addition to studying our Ratings, we suggest you check out the recipe claims on the manufacturers' websites, since many of today's top-performing blenders are surprisingly versatile.

Daniel DiClerico

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