Pros: Amazingly Incredibly Good For Everything But Milkshakes
Cons: Pitcher Too Tall; Doesn't Do Thick Milkshakes Well
Our old blender, a Waring BB180, was more than adequate for everything. I gave it a very positive review a couple of years ago. However we -- you're not going to believe this -- misplaced it and needed to replace.
We started looking at Vita-Mix because of the reputation and a "why not the buy the best?" philosophy which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.
It's not that I can't explain the bargain I got at SLT, but it would take too many words. Suffice it to say that the price for a new machine with all of the accessories was a unique stroke of good fortune at the time. However, if you're considering this blender consider also that it's either discontinued and replaced or about to be replaced.
The new top-line home kitchen blenders add some useless gimmicks, the real "improvement" in the replacement models is a redesigned pitcher.
The current pitcher is too tall to fit under most kitchen cabinets. That's not much of a problem with us because our top cabinets were mounted too close to the counter, and NOTHING fits.
A bit more problematic is that the geometry of the old, tall pitchers does not promote the right vortex for efficient blending of a very few types of ingredients with a very few others. As a practical matter, that means that the machine transfers too much heat before blending a lot of ice cream with a little bit of milk.
So, you can forget smooth, thick milkshakes. Slightly thinner milkshakes, no problem.
One design quirk which actually promotes better blending is the recommendation to start almost every task with the switch set to "adjustable," and the dial at low speed, then crank the rpms until you get the right speed -- which is always "10." Sorry, no 11. The slow start prevents hydrostatic glugs and promotes more even mixing.
Speaking of which, the top is vented, so combined with the slow start and ramp-up, no steam pressure explosions. Nice! Go ahead, try to make an argument for a stick blender.
Ice? Like buttah. It's so fast there's no melting from environmental temps and no heat transfer either. It's not quite Rocky Mountains powder, but it's as close as any blender will get you.
For every other purpose other than thick shakes and malts, and I mean every darn one of them, this thing is beyond perfection. Amazingly powerful, amazingly well designed, amazingly rugged, amazingly turns ice into dry snow; amazing bar blender; amazingly secure top, amazing with hot purees, amazingly does everything, amazingly and so on.
I'm not sure if any blender is worth $500 for a home kitchen. The four star value rating is expressly limited to the "such a deal price," and includes the caveat that no blender is worth even $300 unless your significant other really wants one. What's a few bucks extra if it makes someone happy?
All I know is we love our Vita Mix and if you want one you'll have to buy your own.
PS. We found the Waring and gave it to The Daughte,r so don't ask.