Yeah, but is it a Good Blender?
Sep 4, 2010 (Updated Feb 14, 2011)
Review by Kenny M
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Okay so my blender recently died. The plastic parts in the drive apparently wore out or stripped. In my quest for a new blender, the main thing I was looking for was an all-metal drive. Well, so much for that all-metal drive thing. The main reason I took a chance on this particular blender is its removable strainer. When I make my smoothies and fruit drinks, I'm kind of tired of the tiny seeds or particles in the mix. I was looking forward to the strainer removing those particles and enjoying my drinks even more.
Recommend this product?
While doing my "blender research" on the internet, I happened upon this deal at buy.com. This "Agua Fresca" blender was a mere $20.81 and about $9 for shipping. I thought, that's a great price for a 10-speed blender with a 700 watt motor, the strainer and a large carafe.
Five days later, the box showed up and I was immediately taken by all the plastic. Even the carafe was plastic. At first I was perturbed, then reminded myself that I spent less than $21 on it. I mean, are the all-metal drive blenders (that cost 3 to 6 times more) that much better? In a word...yes.
Metal vs. Plastic:
In all-plastic drives, a set of plastic teeth on the motor base turn another set of plastic teeth of the carafe - which, in turn, turns the metal blades inside the carafe. Over time, these teeth strip out and render the blender useless.
In all-metal drives, there's a small multi-point star-shaped female gear hole in the base and in the carafe is the metal "geared-nipple" that supplies better and more long-lasting grip in the drive mechanism. People who know tools: think star drive or Torx.
If you're using a blender in a commercial capacity or using a blender every single day, you really should opt for the all-metal drive blenders. Plastic drive blenders are really made to be disposable and last anywhere from 1-4 years depending on usage.
The base has about a 8" x 6" footprint and the 56 ounce plastic carafe is about 9-3/4" tall with a combined height of about 15". The carafe has incremental measurements in the plastic and a top door for inserting ice cubes and other small things while the blender is on. The removeable top cap also doubles as a 1 and 2 ounce measuring cup. One thing that struck me as odd is how short the electrical cord is - it's only 24" long. My last one had a 36" length. I guess it saves the company money, what with all that copper and such (shrugs).
The Power Panel:
There are seven buttons on the face. "OFF" being furthest left. The next two are the ""LOW" and "HIGH" selectors. The remaining five buttons are the speed selectors and in either low or high make the ten speeds. The first two speeds are for the "pulse" action - meaning the on/off/on/off action for "Grate" and "Ice Breaker" in high and "Stir" and "Aerate" in low. Underneath the buttons is printed, "Wave~Action."
What's this "Wave Action" all about? With most blenders, the carafe is either round-ish or triangular-ish. The mixture really just rotates around and around and some gets thrown back in the center - toward the blades. With this model, the carafe has three sections that taper inward which forces the mixture back toward the center for better mixing.
All blenders are loud to one degree or another. There's nothing like trying to whip up a mix of pancake batter on a Sunday morning and waking up the entire household, but that's usually with a 400-500 watt motor. This puppy has a 700 watt motor so you know it's even louder. Oh boy, this thing sounds like a small wood chipper so best to wait until everyone is awake before using this appliance. If you really want to wake the kids with a jolt, crush some ice with this bad boy. That level of decibels will surely wake the most stubborn of teenagers and supply endless laughter as they jolt out of their post-party comas. Ask me how I know!
When using the strainer, you should rinse it out immediately because if allowed to dry, it can be a real tough job to clean. The plastic carafe should probably be cleaned by hand in lieu of a hot dishwasher. If the carafe should lose its shape and the top won't fit any longer, you'll probably be looking for a new blender again.
I have to say that this blender really works well whipping up the batter. No problems at all.
So I filled a bowl with ice and poured them into the carafe then hit the "Ice Breaker" button in a pulse type of way. When I said this machine was loud, it's four times as loud with the ice in the carafe. You might need ear protection - seriously. After about a minute, there were three layers: snow at the bottom, crushed chunks in the middle and untouched ice cubes at the top. So this machine is not so proficient in the ice crushing department because the snow build-up at the bottom stops the ice at the top from getting lowered into the blades. If you want snowy ice for snow cones, probably best to get crushed ice from your fridge and then put it in this blender.
Here's where this blender (and its integrated strainer) really shines. Once the juice base of your choice is put into the carafe, simply toss in your favorite frozen fruit chunks and the strainer actually keeps the larger seeds, pulp and other "stuff" from being poured into your glass. After all, they're called smoothies - not roughies.
While there is a selection for making shakes in this blender, I find using a stand-up shake maker type of blender works best.
My blender has a 10-speed motor but in reality you only really need three speeds and a powerful motor. Most of your high-priced commercial blenders are only two or three speeds. If you want a workhorse of a blender, expect to spend at least $50 on a decent blender and up to a couple hundred dollars for the better models. This $20 blender will probably last a couple years, but it's the strainer element that really sold me - I had never seen that option before. I rate this blender 3.75 stars, and one whole star is for the strainer, otherwise this is a light to medium use appliance that will need replacing much faster than the metal-drive blenders out there. Again, I think this blender is decent, but only comes in at a 2.75 if not for the strainer element.
UPDATE: After having used this blender for a few months, I need to tell you NOT to use the rough surface of the sponge to clean it - only use the soft side of the sponge or a paper towel. Otherwise it leaves rough scratches in the surface of the plastic.
Amount Paid (US$): 21
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