Customer Reviews: Hamilton Beach 51101B Personal Blender with Travel Lid, Black
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on December 26, 2008
I got this for my 17 year old son to make smoothies. He made the most delicious peach smoothie from ice and the Big Train Fruit Tea Smoothie Blast syrup also bought on Amazon. The consistency was smooth and perfect, just like a professional frozen drink. I asked him to make me one. On the second smoothie the motor died. We thought maybe it needed a little "rest" but sadly, it was the end of the road for that blender. When pressed for details, my son admitted that he noticed a burning smell before the motor stopped dead, and yet he kept pressing that button! Bottom line: great design, lightweight, nice personal cup size, easy storage and cleanup. The motor is just not very powerful, and can't take long blending times. Still, we are going to order a replacement and see if a bit more TLC while blending gives this blender better shelf life. Seems like it worked for some of the other reviewers.

Update: we got the new blender and it is working out great. You just have to be careful to pulse the blender as you go along, and stop for a few seconds (10?) if you start to smell the motor smell. Ice is blended into drinks very well, with no big chunks. The only downside is the no dishwasher requirement. I feel pretty tempted to try it, but as this is already the second blender I will resist.
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on January 29, 2011
I'm about to buy my 3rd one. I've got one at home, and one I take on the road with me. I'm buying a new one because the one I've had for a little over a year has finally gotten a small crack at the bottom and leaks slightly; I don't know if it's because I had stored it for a short time in sub-freezing temperatures, or just because I've used it until it cracked. Who cares? It's $12, that comes out to a buck a month. I use it anywhere from 2-10 times a week, depending on how warm it is and what I'm in the mood for.

I was reading some of the other reviews complaining about several things, and I wanted to address my thoughts on those issues after having used one of these for about 2 years.

Leaking around the lid: I just now filled it 3/4 full of water to test it out, since I usually make smoothies or shakes with it, and they are much too thick to leak. Yes, it will leak a bit around the slide cover of the travel lid, if you are blending thin liquids. It wasn't very bad, and if you hold your hand over the lid it won't get everywhere. All I can think of is that some of the reviewers aren't snapping the lid on completely and it's leaking around it. I've never had a smoothie leak through or around the lid.

Not blending anything solid/only blending stuff on the bottom. People, if your mixture is too thick, it can't get down to the bottom to blend up correctly. A large kitchen blender will blend thicker stuff because (a) it's got a more powerful motor, and (b) a much larger blending container. When you are using this, it's better to put the liquids in first, and then the harder stuff up top; otherwise, you are going to have a very thick mixture on the bottom that can't rotate up and let the thinner stuff down. This isn't a design defect, it's just physics and the way things are. When I make smoothies, I put the ice in last, and it grinds up large chunks of ice very smoothly. If it's still a bit too thick to blend up, I add a bit more milk or juice or whatever so it will work properly. Once it gets going, it has a nice whirlpool effect and everything gets blended well.

As far as the smoking motors, I have had no problem with either of mine. You can smell the motor bushings when you use it, but it's the same smell you get from every electric motor, just ask anyone who owned a model train as a kid. I only blend for less than 20 secs at a time, so maybe that's why I have never burned the motor up. You can't leave it going continuously like you might a large kitchen blender.

People, this is a one serving blender, and for $12, you get more than what you pay for. I'm sure there are better ones out there, but not for even twice the price of this one; if I have to buy a new one every year, I can live with that. You can't compare it to a full sized kitchen blender and expect it to do everything the big one does. I thought about taking one star from it for a couple of things I would recommend changing about it (I think a blending lid would be a good idea, and it would make it easier to clean if you could separate the blades from the bottom), but in the end I decided that I couldn't expect those things from, once again, a $12 blender.

In conclusion, it does what it professes to do (makes smoothies and shakes), does it very well if used properly, and does it for what I consider to be a bargain price. That should be the gold standard for 5 stars, in my humble opinion.
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on May 12, 2010
This is an amazing value for the price! I have a full-sized blender, but it was just too much for what I needed (1 serving smoothie), and was annoying to clean such a large thing afterwards... so I wanted something smaller. I LOVE the design of this blender - it's a very simple 1-button machine that allows me to throw everything in it, blend, and then just twist off and GO! The lid slides open to allow for drinking my smoothie directly out of it (so it serves a double purpose). The design of the lid is very good - it's very easy to sip the smoothie from this (it has a nicely designed drinking lip), and the size of the container is perfect for my car cup holder. After you are done with base, the cord twists and locks into a recessed area in the bottom of the blender, making cleanup even easier. The blender looks awesome just sitting on my countertop, ready to make smoothies at any time! The only thing I could possibly wish for is more power.

1) This is a perfect smoothie maker! Has been able to handle almost anything (see Cons below for more about this) I've put in there, even frozen fruit.
2) The design is just genius to me. I'm able to make a smoothie and go in 5 minutes. After blending, just twist off and go, and lid slides open to allow you to drink/sip... it's totally portable. Device itself is very small, takes up little space on your counter, and does look nice (especially since the cord is pretty much concealed at base of blender). I actually like that it only has 1 button - makes it easier for me.
3) Cleanup is a breeze. Splash some water and a little soap in there and swish around, dump out and air dry, or just let water sit/soak for a few minutes if the food is harder to get off. I've read from other reviews that the lid can become a little flimsy, so I always handwash it. Dishwashers can warp some delicate plastics sometimes...

1) As stated on some other people's reviews, there IS a burning smell if you push button for too long or if you throw something in there that it cannot handle. Always pulse this thing for maybe 20-30 seconds at a time, do NOT just keep your finger on the button for too long. This is basically just a baby blender, so it's a little more delicate than many of us are used to.
2) This little blender is not able to handle large & hard items very well - I wish it had more power. Examples of things the blender has had trouble with: big pieces of cubed ice, whole frozen strawberries. I used the crushed ice dispenser from my fridge when I need ice, and cut the whole frozen strawberries in half when I need those. If you stick something in there that it cannot handle, the blade is just going to freeze up on you (i.e. get stuck).
3) The blade is small, so it's not always as easy as "blend & go" - sometimes I have to pulse a couple of times and then "help" it by mixing the things at the top into it with a spoon so that everything is able to make it to the blade at the bottom and get blended properly. This isn't a big deal to me, although I know that the super expensive blenders that people use for smoothies, like VitaMix or BlendTec, don't require help from spoons as much as this one :)
4) This blender does not blend as well as more professional blenders. I've had a green smoothie (i.e. has spinach in it) from a pro blender and it's perfectly smooth and blended, you don't see any food particles at all, looks beautiful. With this blender, you do see the small pieces of chopped up spinach mixed in it (they ARE small, however). This doesn't bother me at all personally, although it grosses some of my co-workers out :)

1) Because this blender is not very powerful, I've found that it works better if you put the liquid and/or soft items in FIRST and then begin to blend in the frozen items and ice.
2) Remember to pulse, do not continuously blend for more than 20-30 seconds I'd say (or you will get the burning smell!). I actually pulse for about 10-15 seconds myself (I want this thing to last me a long time!)

Despite the cons, this VERY inexpensive blender has still been an amazing purchase for me. You definitely get more than your money's worth, in my opinion. I have owned and have used it everyday for 2 months now and it works fine as long as I remember that it isn't super powerful and might need some "help" sometimes. The design of the blender is amazing though and is what makes this stand out from other blenders. It makes it so easy to create a smoothie and go. I am kind of lazy but wanted to change my diet. I have a full-sized blender but it was burdensome - too much - too big - a pain to clean. This blender has made it SO easy that I'm now drinking extremely healthy smoothies everyday, full of things like spinach, veggies, fruit, yogurt, flaxseed oil, and organic raw egg yolks. I've lost 7 pounds and am FULL of energy now also. I'm so happy!! This little blender has made a large positive impact on my health. I'm sure I'll eventually get a VitaMix one day since I'm eating the smoothies so much now, but only when this one dies on me (let's see how long it lasts).

UPDATE Aug 2010: Originally bought this blender May 2010. It's August 2010, and the lid finally cracked - well, I guess I got what I paid for. The crack is getting bigger and starts to leak liquid now as I blend. I've used it almost daily now for 3 months... since I know that smoothies are going to stay a part of my diet now, I am considering upgrading to a Vitamix blender.

UPDATE Aug 2011: I have officially trashed this little blender and am downgrading my rating to 3 stars because it's no good for long term use. I bought another one soon after the lid cracked on the previous one (hey, at under $20 a pop, I didn't think much of it to just buy another). WELL, a couple of months after purchasing that 2nd blender, the bottom of the plastic cup cracked! Grrr... The mechanism/motor of the units worked just fine each time, it was the VERY cheaply-made plastic container/cup that makes this product a bad idea for long term use. I have purchased a Ninja Prep Pro system and although it's not a Vitamix, it's a HUGE improvement over this little blender (and the Ninja is also Consumer Reports' #2 blender right now, right behind Vitamix!)

UPDATE Oct 2015: I purchased the Ninja Prep Pro in Aug 2011. It was a far sturdier option than the Hamilton Beach (although larger, with many more pieces!). The motor was much stronger and so it was capable of handling most of what I wanted. It did not crack/break. Even with that one though, things did not get blended completely. I was fine with it, but it didn't impress me. FAST FORWARD TO 2013: I got married in Nov 2013, and one of our wedding gifts was the Vitamix 750 Pro!!! THIS thing is a forever thing. It has not once struggled with anything I've thrown at it. It can handle anything, and everything is blended COMPLETELY. It's solidly built - is very heavy. We've used it multiple times per day, every day since Nov 2013, and not 1 issue (and we'll probably never have one since these things are built to be used all day long - this is what higher end smoothie shops use). I know someone who has a Vitamix that is over 20 years old, and it's still working fine. This will last us almost forever. The warranty on them is outstanding as well. I was right, Vitamix is the only blender that works for me. I highly recommended Vitamix! The only question/problem with Vitamix is the cost. Vitamix is the absolute best blender on the market. I hope I can encourage people to buy a Vitamix - buy this blender, and it will perform amazingly for a lifetime. Or, you can buy many blenders over a lifetime that will be horrible, or only work so-so for you. At the end of the day, the cost is probably actually the same...
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on March 8, 2014
I purchased this item on June 13, 2013. It has been used twice a day, morning and evening. After each use the electric cord is wrapped and secured into the base in its designated place.

I plugged it in this morning and sparks flew everywhere with a flash of light and a loud electrical bang. Luckily, I did not have my hands anywhere near the problem, nor was the counter wet. It tripped both the GFI and the breaker.

I have posted a picture of the problem, with the base removed. The integrity of the electric cord has been slowly breached since purchase.

WARNING: Check Your Electric Cord At The Grommet For Any Failure

I have posted a picture to indicate the failure and for reference.
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on November 7, 2008
Works nicely for mixing up those breakfast protein shakes but the lid started cracking after only 3 months of daily use so when mixing it leaks at that point, I have to try to plug it with my finger to stop it from leaking onto the counter, other then that i'm happy with how easy it is to use and clean.
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on July 23, 2011
Most of the reviews I've read here below 2 stars are failing to treat this blender with care. If you are making smoothies, make sure you do the following:

1) Always put liquid like nectar into the cup FIRST - very important. It should be at least 1/3 of the contents.
2) Don't stick large pieces of fruit into the container. Cut them up into 1" or less cubes. This will make it easier to blend.
3) Do not put large ice cubes in the container. It will get stuck between the container and the blades. The blades are not big. If you push your luck too far and hit the blender button, the ice cubes will get stuck. You can burn out the motor that way, let alone break the container.
4) Do not fill the container more than 75% of the contents. That will prevent any explosion and leaking.
5) Do not press the button for long durations. Do quick presses to let the contents move around and displace itself. If you get ice cubes stuck and continue to press, you will burn out the motor.
6) Always lock the cup into the base. It is really easy to just shove it in the base and hit the button. Don't. There are icons on the cup that align with the base. Use them to avoid problems.
7) Watch the contents in the cup. If they are stuck and not moving, stop pressing the button. Take those items out and cut them into smaller sizes.
8) You will know you are pushing your luck too far when you start to smell an odor coming from the unit. Stop blending and let the motor cool down.

I've made many smoothies this way and they turn out pretty good. But just don't expect professional quality because the blades and motor are nowhere near a professional/commercial quality blender.
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on May 24, 2014
Works great for those mornings before work, however, the jar broke with the normal load, few ice cubes, protein shake powder, and almond milk, it just broke, ok things break but that is not even why I'm giving this thing 1 star, I cleaned up all the mess from the shake, turned my computer on and look everywhere for the jar by itself, only the manufacturer site has it, and it charges half of what the whole thing is, plus the shipping, in my case $14 in Brooklyn NY. That is insane, I hate disposing the working part, but I'm not paying more for one jar then the whole thing, and I'm not buying a whole new one so it can break and then I'll have only motors.
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on July 9, 2014
I have been using my blender happily for about 6 months. It's been great, particularly for the price (I paid ten bucks from Amazon Warehouse). One of the keys to its use is to remember it doesn't have an on/off button but a pulse button. It's not meant to be run for long, unbroken periods (think of what the human "pulse" is: on, off, on, off). I expect pulsing is the key to not frying the tiny motor. Because the cup is plastic, I avoid using any greasy or oily substances (like peanut butter) because plastic just doesn't clean up the way glass does. Also, the bottom is not removable but all of a piece so it can be tricky to really feel like the blades and bottom are properly cleaned. For these 2 minor issues, I ding a star. I really like my blender.
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on March 29, 2015
This blender, of course, isn't going to be as powerful as the bigger, more expensive blenders but for the price it's great. The small size makes it easy to clean and carry and being able to drink directly from the blender cuts down on dishes. Also, I've found that it's more than powerful enough to incorporate frozen bananas and frozen berries into my smoothies. It can even handle green smoothies for the most part. It can't really handle kale, though -- in the first picture I've uploaded (the one without the lid) you can see that the kale still remained in little flakes that were somewhat off-putting. They were too small to taste, but they definitely messed with the texture. In the second picture I used spinach instead and you can see that there are no flakes (the tiny dark spots are bubbles), just a smooth, thick smoothie.
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on May 15, 2009
I am so glad I bought this little blender. It is exactly what I need for making smoothies. I have a Back to Basics smoothie maker with a pouring spout and that is fine for making smoothies for the whole family, but I also make them daily for myself alone, thus the need for this personal blender.

When I make my smoothies in this little blender, I use 6 to 8 ounces of plain yogurt, 4 frozen strawberries (available at the dollar store), 1 TBS wheat grass powder, 1 TBS ground flax seed, agave nectar for sweetening, and top it off with some milk to make it more fluid. I also use bananas when I have them. The result is good, but a little gritty because of the flax seed. I don't mind, though, because I am feeling great. The flax seed not only lowers my cholesterol, but my joints feel better as well.

This product is easy to clean, and that includes getting ground flax seed out of it. You have to pulse it, instead of keeping it on full blast, but it doesn't take long at all before the frozen strawberries are all blended, and I can enjoy my smoothie. It makes great milkshakes, too.

I have had mine for about 6 months now, and I love it. If it broke tomorrow, I would go right out and buy another one, because it is so handy. You can take your smoothie drink with you, because of the handy container, but I drink mine at home, so I can't really say how it fits into the cup holder in the car.

There is a burning motor smell almost every time you use it, but it doesn't seem to be a problem for this little machine. You will have to make sure it is properly seated in it's motor base before you turn it on.

I also like that it doesn't take up much counter space. I can leave it out, and it's not in the way.
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