$21.15 - $62.99
3 Stores8 Reviews
Pros: looks good next to my Mr. Coffee; container doubles as a travel cup; makes smoothies
Cons: weak motor; can't really handle ice cubes; short power cord; olfactory disturbances
I decided to make this the Summer of the Smoothie, and so I set out to find a small blender. The Hamilton Beach 51103 Single-Serve Blender was among the least expensive at my local Target, and it was small, black, and looked simple to operate, so I snapped one up.
On the box are the following bullets:
Travel lid lets you drink from jar
14 oz. capacity
Great for fruit smoothies, icy drinks, shakes and more
Stainless steel blades
The "icy drinks" thing sold me, as I knew I'd be using ice in my smoothies, and I needed something that could hadle ice cubes. Elsewhere on the box we're told that the thing can be stored upside down with the cord wrapped around the base (I didn't care), and that you can use the plastic container as a travel cup (implicit in the bullet about the travel lid). Cool.
Set up was a snap. The power cord is only about two feet long, but there's an outlet right next to where I intended to put the unit, so the short cord wasn't an issue for me. The clear plastic container attaches to the base with a twist, and the black plastic top fits snugly into the container. A small sliding "door" covers the sippy hole while you're blending.
I decided to get straight to work. I rinsed out the container and made a smoothie with the following ingredients:
I forget whether it was in the unit's instructions, or maybe I'd read it elsewhere, but I knew to put the more liquid stuff on the bottom, the mushy stuff in the middle, and the ice cubes on top.
The container didn't quite twist to the fully shut position (a disappointment), but I got a decent seal and pressed the "pulse" button, the only control on the unit.
The four little blades whirred, the ice cream and bananas descended and spun, the ice cubes made threatening clacking noises against the plastic container, and my mouth watered.
Then I smelled burning rubber or plastic.
I released the pulse button and decided to be safe and do my blending in 5-second bursts (I believe another Epinions reviewer made the same prudent decision), rather than risk blowing the thing up.
There were no clouds of smoke, and the unit did not stop whirring, but I had a sense that the ice cubes were at the limit of what the small motor in this unit could handle.
After about 10 bursts, I had my first smoothie. To be honest, everything was well blended with the exception of some small chunks of ice, about the size of large Summer hail stones (maybe 1/2" in diameter). The smoothie was delicious, with just the right amount of icy crunch, and I didn't mind chomping up the remaining hail stones as I sipped.
Clean up was a snap. I just rinsed out the container and the top with hot water and they were ready to go again. Unlike one of the other Epinions reviewers of this product, I have not yet had a problem with stuff getting stuck under the blades.
Subsequent smoothie experiences have been pretty much the same as the first. The burning rubber or plastic smell was there for maybe the first ten smoothies, but I haven't noticed it lately. My hunch is that the motor had to "break in." The smoothies continue to taste yummy, but I haven't figured out a way to make the thing give me a hail-stone-free smoothie experience.
Importantly, the unit is compact, as advertized, and it looks sharp next to my (also black) Mr. Coffee and Braun bean grinder. The container does function well as a cup--I haven't had any unhappy spill-all-over-my-keyboard experiences, or anything like that.
Do I recommend this unit? Its maximum capacity is about 14 oz., slightly more than a can of Coke. Its motor is weak, and although I've had it for two months or so, I won't be surprised if it just stops working one hot Indian Summer morning. And your smoothies will have hail stones in them if you use ice cubes.
But I'm still glad I bought it.
If you have kids and need to make more than 14 oz. at a time, or if you're going to be making anything more complicated than smoothies, I'd go with something bigger, more powerful, and with more settings. But if you just want to make smoothies for one or two people, and don't mind hail stones, then what the heck.