I ordered Vitamix 5200, but was upgraded by kitchenuniverse because they were out of it. It's the same machine except for an upgraded book and different color base.
things I can now do (or not do)with my Vitamix: 1. dont have to section oranges or lemons. healthier this way too. (just peel and remove seeds) 2. don't have to peel garlic (healthier? maybe. definitely more whole) 3. don't have to chop carrots (still a good idea to quarter apples) 4. sell my ice cream machine, and juicer 5. make smoothies while baby is asleep in the next room(can go as fast as variable 5 w/out much noise at all, it can still crush ice effortlessly at this speed). Even at the highest speed, it's as noisy as a regular vacuum, and I usually don't need to go full speed for very long anyway. The only time you need to go long (5-7 minutes) is for heating up soup, but why? adding hot water before blending is a greener alternative. 6. make as little as a cup of smoothie at a time (vortex action still works well, and so easy to clean, why not? there are so many good recipes to try in the included book and I only want to make a little bit at a time to test them out) 7. fill it to the top and make smoothies for everyone (the tamper is needed when I make this much strawberry daiqueri, but it comes out perfectly smooth from top to bottom) 8. don't always need to add liquid to a recipe before blending. (tamper comes in handy when not using liquids) 9. grind peppercorns, coffee beans. 10. turn ice into snow in less than 3 seconds (havent' done it personally, but it's on the demo dvd)
for those who wonder why it's so easy to clean: there are no parts to disassemble and reassemble. just add water, a drop of soap and turn on high. Sometimes it'll still leave bits that dried on, but just wipe it manually, no big deal. It's the assembly and disassembly that makes people not use their regular blender as often as they want or should.
some say the blendtec (competitor) doesn't need a tamper because it blends so well. Don't believe it. The only reason it doesn't need it is because the machine automatically raises and lowers the speed at intervals to get things into the spinning vortex. Umm...you can do that w/the Vitamix manually and you can do it better than a pre-programmed machine. The blendtec boasts 3 HP while Vitamix is 2 HP. I cant even imagine needing to go any faster than the Vitamix already does, and trust me I have a big imagination. The blendtec is even preprogrammed so you can walk away from it while it prepares your recipes, but do you really want to walk away from a machine this powerful? I believe in simplicity and that is the major advantage of the Vitamix over the blendtec. Yes the blendtec fits under the cabinets and a Vitamix does not, but that's not a big deal to me because my Vitamix takes centerstage on my kitchen island.
Overall, if all you need to do is make a couple smoothies, this blender will disappoint you because of its price. It can do so much more, but you can only appreciate it if you are committed to changing your lifestyle too. I've been transitioning to raw vegan for about a year and I wanted a Vitamix since the beginning but wasn't ready to take the financial plunge. Let's just say when I finally bought this machine, it brought me to a whole nother level. I can't imagine going raw without it. Try buying the following books along w/your Vitamix "green smoothie revolution" by Boutenko, or any of the multitudes of raw food cookbooks on Amazon. The books will help you appreciate your machine even more, inspiring you to keep up with a healthier, more conscious lifestyle. This is truly a machine that you can fall in love with.
**update** I've had this Vitamix for 2 months now and I've been using it at least twice a day. I noticed some peculiar things which I would like to share.
- took it to my mom's house...it was significantly louder. I'm not sure why, my counter is made of granite, hers is a laminate type material. ceiling height is about the same. *shrug* - decided to keep my ice cream maker. It makes sorbets just fine, but ice "cream" tasted very watered down (at least the ones in the included book did). I may adjust by freezing the milk or cream cubes instead of using ice cubes. - I put two cups of flax seeds into the regular bladed container, turned it on and it became flour in a few seconds. (it was beautiful) I'm confused why a dry blade exists or why it's even needed. I can get rid of my coffee/spice grinder now. - something fun....turn the dial from 1 to 10 and back and forth...it really does sound like a Ferrari engine!