This device is well-made. It's biggest advantage is the total ease of cleaning after use - a real pleasure just rinsing under the faucet.
It's very powerful and can digest things such as ice cubes easily if they'll fit within the cage.
It's elegant to the eye and fairly comfortable in the hand.
The biggest downside is that you must keep a firm grip on the mixing vessel, or if the machine hits something big it can twist the vessel right out of your hand - spewing the contents all over the kitchen countertop, cabinets, and floor. Don't ask.
Another problem is that anything large and hard - like the frozen strawberries I get at Trader Joes - don't fit into the machine's jaws and thus elude the blades. Of course, my first reaction to this problem was to compensate in my typical way, by pressing down harder, and now the machine has slightly bent blades - and a slight wobble.
That slight wobble means that the machine now feeds more unevenly into the mix. So tonight I was chopping two ice cubes into milk, and when an ice cube caught the blade the milk splashed out despite my firm grip on the tumbler. When using this device there is no protective top as with a blender.
As I said, there's plenty of power. But the downside to that is the cord snaking over your countertop, collecting food.
They give you a nice plastic mixing cup; very high quality. But it's way too small to be of any real use.
In short, when using this machine have a large open area to work in. Don't expect to grind big hard things. Don't force the machine too much. It requires more time and more attention than a blender.
Biggest advantage over a blender: easy to clean. I wish it were near as easy to use.
__________________ Follow up: about three weeks into this thing I've straightened out the bent blades, eliminating the wobble, but I've reverted back to my 30 year old cheap blender anyway. The SmartStick is a well-made tool, but it's useful only if what you want to chop will readily fit within the blades' protective cage. If that's not the case, you're going to spend a lot of time and effort trying to get large chunks fed into the blades.
My almost exclusive use for the device was to make protein smoothies, which entailed blending full-sized ice cubes and sometimes large frozen strawberries. For that use, SmartStick just wasn't worth the hassle, especially considering that if you rinse out the full size blender right away, cleaning the larger machine isn't so bad.
I questioned the SmartStick's feed opening being so small. But I suppose if it were larger the tool would feed too aggressively, and it would jump out of hand when hitting something large and hard, which would be dangerous and messy. So I think the present design must be a necessary but unfortunate compromise.
Bottom line: the SmartStick is a great tool for some uses, and not for others.