on March 19, 2011
I spent about a year looking at the 5200 and comparing it to its competitors before buying it last month from Costco. I cook every meal from scratch, and I'm very interested in eating healthier meals. I'm not a vegetarian at all, but I have been eating more of a raw food diet and have been feeling better since. The Vitamix makes it so easy and extremely tasty to eat 3-5 servings of veggies and fruit in a single smoothie.
A few points I've run across researching and in my own experience. The 2 hp motor compared to a 3 hp motor: I love my 2 hp and I'm pretty sure I would not spend the extra money for a 3 hp motor. The key to performance is not the watts or hp, but the ability to perform the task at hand. The science and math geeks calculate work using hp or watts, torque, heat, and other numbers. Since no company (Blendtec, Vitamix, etc.) provides the full specs of performance for their motors, it's unfair to say "A 3 hp motor is better than a 2 hp motor". Just look at car engines... a high hp engine may have low torque or high torque, and be faster or slower, or better gas mileage, etc. So, in terms of performance, the 2 hp Vitamix has been fantastic. To properly calculate "performance", you need to get numbers like the rpm and watts used against a certain resistance and include heat generated/lost in the process. If you don't have *all* those numbers, you're just speculating and making up stuff. Not a fair comparison.
The Vitamix seems much quieter than the Blendtec. Both are loud, but the Vitamix is not a piercing deafening loudness. Even if you see YouTube videos, you can still hear people talk over the noise of the Vitamix, so it's not that bad.
It is difficult to scrape every last bit of food from the Vitamix, especially when it's thick like hummus or peanut butter. I've ground raw cacao beans with some water, coconut oil, and honey, and the motor handled it just fine (it sounded like it was going to break since it was so loud and whiney, but it didn't overheat). But once it was done it was difficult to get the thick goop out. I did buy a spatula that was long and thin with a silicone scraper that fits in between each of the 4 blades at the bottom. It takes a little extra time but I've found I don't waste any food anymore using it. The Blendtec container makes this whole process of getting food out much easier. BTW: Blendtec won a lawsuit against Vitamix since Vitamix stole their Wildside container design. However, Vitamix never intended to use the WildSide container on home blenders, only commercial ones, so it doesn't even affect my decision.
I love using the variable speed control. If you like keeping in touch with your food, controlling how you want it done, chopped, blended, and having very quick responses with the manual controls, then the Vitamix is perfect. People have said "there's no pulse button" on the Vitamix, but you just flip the switch on and off quickly and it works the same. No need for another button or knob that says Pulse on it. If you don't care how your food is made, as long as it gets done right, get the Blendtec. It's more "set it and forget it" kind of technology. I have a friend that just bought the Blendtec and loves it because she does not want to be too involved with her smoothies... just throw everything in, hit the button, walk away, come back and its ready. Personally, I like to play with it more and make it work how I want it to.
Blendtec doesn't have a tamper, and Vitamix does. Some people gave me the impression that you must use the Tamper for Vitamix to work properly when making smoothies and ice cream and such. That made me think Vitamix was inferior since Blendtec would do all that without a tamper. However, now that I have a Vitamix I've realized that thinking like that is incorrect. I rarely use the tamper in the Vitamix as long as the ingredients are in the right order and as long as there's enough liquid. Also, I can vary the speeds to get the mix blending better on the Vitamix. The Blendtec uses that variable speed approach as well, but it just does it automatically. Many reviewers said they had to add extra cycles or use the pulse on their Blendtec anyway, even after their preprogrammed cycle ran. So I figured I'd get the Vitamix since I can just do it all correctly from the beginning. When you make sticky thick items (again, like raw chocolate from cacao beans, or peanut butter, or hummus), the tamper is essential. The Blendtec users have to stop the machine, open it, use a spatula or scraper and scrape down the sides every few seconds. Vitamix just keeps going while you redirect the food or smash it down into the blades. The tamper also is more efficient for redirecting food, not necessarily beating your food into the blade. It's primarily intended to prevent air pockets from forming. Air pockets form in the Blendtec too, so you have to stop it, open it, and use a spatula anyway.
The Costco price for the 5200 was $395 when I bought it. I thought that was great, but then I realized as I walked out the door that tax was 8%. Brought the price to $427. Keep that in mind when budgeting. Some online deals or a deal direct from Vitamix may be cheaper if you factor in the tax at a store.
The height of the Vitamix doesn't bother me. I just set the container on the counter next to the base. I put the container lid on top of the motor base. Looks fine. If counter top space is a deciding factor, get the Blendtec, it's shorter.
I also like the history of Vitamix products. Its been around a long time, and has always been a top branded product.
The warranty on the Vitamix is 7 yrs standard, can increase it to 10 years (turns out that inside the package I found a coupon that says they'll do the extra 3 yrs for only $75, which is a huge savings from the $120 online). The Blendtec does 3 yrs standard, but Costco negotiated with them to include 4 extra years free just to be competitive with Vitamix. That's a great deal, but my concern was why they don't just do 7 yrs standard in the first place. I guess it's to keep their price lower than Vitamix. Plus Vitamix's warranty is simple: the whole thing's covered, motor, container, blade, everything. Blendtec seemed to split everything up. The motor, container and blade assembly have separate durations of their warranty.
As far as preprogramming, Blendtec claims that Vitamix doesn't do that and that Blendtec is so technologically advanced. Well, Vitamix does it, but it costs more, since it's in their professional and commercial versions. I'm not sure if it's true, but I feel like I'm getting a solid workhorse from Vitamix without the bells and whistles of a preprogrammed circuit board, and that Vitamix has such higher quality that if I wanted to get preprogrammed cycles I would have to pay extra for a good quality product. Blendtec offers the technology, but its so much less expensive that I'm concerned that they're doing it cheaply. Again, just speculation, but that's kind of how most businesses work.
I've seen Blendtec and Vitamix demos on YouTube. One video showed Blendtec as blending faster and effortlessly compared to a Vitamix. In my experience with the Vitamix, I have not noticed a difference in speed. It blends and destroys everything I put into it within seconds, and makes a beautiful, super smooth smoothie in about 20-30 seconds. Vitamix suggests blending smoothies for 1 minute most of the time. I have rarely needed to blend anything that long. I've made smoothies with kiwi, carrots, apples, spinach, ginger, lemon, honey, ice, and water (all in the same container), and it blended everything perfectly within 20 seconds (no tamper either, just make sure you add enough water to get it's vortex working).
Cleanup is as easy as they say. Few drops dish soap, fill it halfway with hot water, blend on high for 30-60 seconds, rinse, and your done. I generally wipe it with a soap dish cloth as well, but I don't think it's necessary. I usually just do that with oily and thick stuff. Make sure you clean it immediately though, don't let it sit for 5 minutes or a day later and expect cleanup to be that easy!
I also bought a dry container from Vitamix. The reviews said both Vitamix wet container and the Blendtec container can do grains and dry goods (make your own wheat flour, rice flour from rice, even blend popcorn kernels into a corn flour), but just does not create a super fine flour. The down side was that all plastic containers get foggy or cloudy over time because the hard kernels smack into the walls and cloud it up a bit. If you want to keep your wet container clear and new looking, you need another container anyway. The dry vitamix container does a better job grinding ingredients than the regular Blendtec container. But, Blendtec makes a grain mill for $199. If you grind more than a pound or so of grain daily, then get the Blendtec grain mill. The dry Vitamix container is $99-$120. The blade is different than the wet container, so don't interchange them. I use the dry container for flax seeds (some people through the seeds into their smoothie while its blending, but I like to grind it to a powder first, either in the dry container or a coffee grinder, then add it to make sure it's ground up properly), rice, and chick peas. You can also make bread dough in the dry container. I haven't tried that whole process yet, it looks a little inefficient, but looks like it will work well.
I thought I'd use the Vitamix 5200 a few times each week. Now that I own one, I use to 1-3 times/day, sometimes 5x/day if I'm doing a few different recipes. I absolutely love it!