Pros:Sturdy, powerful, effective, and easy to clean.
Cons:Might just make your regular blender obsolete.
The Bottom Line: This blender is a solid deal. Don't hesitate!
I really wish I'd gotten one of these sooner! Instead I feel as though I have wasted years struggling along with my regular blender, trying to make pesto, hummus, smoothies, etc., with only limited success (constantly having to stop the action in order to stir things around and poke solids down towards the blades). I have a very small kitchen, so I avoid buying gadgets and appliances that I think might be frivolous. But I saw this handheld blender marked down heavily (for some reason only in the cobalt color), and so I took the plunge.
Recommend this product?
What can I say except that my regular blender hasn't seen any use since!
This KitchenAid handheld blender is so extremely efficient, easy to use, and easy to clean that I find myself blending stuff much more often. Pesto and hummus are a snap. Smoothies are simple (I know that others have claimed it won't crush ice, but I find that it makes quick work of the icecubes I throw into smoothies... so I'm not sure what sort of ice-crushing they're referring to.) This blender is pretty good at not splattering, so smoothies can be made right in the glass, if you want. Soup, of course, can be blended right in the pot.
The housing for the blades is stainless steel. Some people may think that this means it can't be used in nonstick pots, but I think that it can, as long as one doesn't continually stir and scrape the pot with it. (The blades themselves won't come into contact with the pot.) If you move it a little more deliberately, it shouldn't pose any problem. After all, the stainless steel housing comes to a fairly blunt edge, not a pointy or sharp one. And the stainless steel makes it sturdier and easier to clean, in my opinion.
As others have mentioned, there are 9 levels of power. It's nice to have so many gradations -- though I've rarely felt the need to go above 4 or 5. The extension cord is ample. The plastic exterior is smooth and easy to clean. The whole appliance has a good weight and feel to it. It's pretty long, and so it can take on a deeper stockpot, no problem.
It comes with a one-quart container (with lid), which is very useful, if basic. For more money, one can buy a version that comes with more accessories -- enabling one to do small chopping jobs, etc. I haven't tried those accessories; I find that even without them, the blender can do a bit of chopping anyway.