Pros: Enough horsepower for woodworking, makes drinks in seconds
Cons: Lexan container scratches easily, bigger than average footprint, price
My previous disappointment
Yesterday I posted a review of the Black and Decker Problend. Lets just say it was a less than favorable review. The main thing that annoys me is the Pro in the name of that product when it isnt even really good enough for home use.
Today I felt the need to post a review on something that actually works the way it should. Vitamix doesnt need to toss the word Pro on their products. The price is enough to make you realize that they are pro grade. But more importantly, these are the machines that you often see when you get a frozen drink at the bar or coffee shop.
The cost of this machine is going to eliminate a lot of potential buyers right away. Vitamix doesnt make a cheap blender. However, lets keep in mind that the last cheap blender which I reviewed worked like a cheap blender. The Vitamix might clock in at over $300, but its going to last longer than six cheapies will at $50 a pop. More importantly, its going to do what it is meant to do.
A friend of mine bought one of these and brought it to work after we gave him a hard time about spending $300 on a blender. It is a little odd for your average twenty-year-old to spend half a paycheck on a kitchen appliance. However, this guy is a health nut. He decided that he wanted to be able to make puree of anything regardless of whether it was edible or not.
The demo he gave us was pretty impressive. He told us that the blades spin fast enough to actually cut small seeds in half releasing the nutrients that normally pass right through the digestive system. In fact, Vitamix claims that this blender will even cut banana seeds. Thats a pretty tough claim for me to comment on either way.
What I will say is that this is a top-notch blender. We tossed four or five types of berries, a banana, ice cubes and some yogurt in the machine, ran it for about fifteen seconds on high speed and had four smoothies ready to go. What would have taken five to ten minutes of mixing, shaking the container and swearing was accomplished in a few seconds.
Not only was it quicker, but the drink was actually smoother. The end result was truly smooth with no big chunks of ice. It was a professional grade drink.
In retrospect, the design of this machine looked similar to those we used in the coffee business. In fact a little quick research indicated that Vitamix was the brand of commercial blender we used. The differences between the home models and the commercial ones are few.
The 5004 features a 2 horsepower motor in its rather large base. Lets put this into perspective. I have a ten-inch table saw that will rip trough a four-inch thick piece of wood like butter. It only has a 1.5 horsepower motor. Heck Ive seen electric snow blowers with less horsepower than this blender puts out.
The blade on this sucker turns at an unladed speed of 37,000 RPMs. Again, lets put that into perspective. A really high RPM on a motorcycle engine is in the 10,000 to 12,000 range. Perhaps a better comparison would be power tools again though. The most frightening tool that I have is a router. It spins a specially shaped blade at high speed to put decorative edges on wood or cut channels. It essentially turns wood to dust at a rather amazing rate. A typical router spins at about 30,000 RPMs with no load.
As you can see, the 5004 is a very, very powerful blender. It could be the only kitchen appliance that even Tim Taylor wouldnt need to soup up. I dont however recommend this unit for wood workingmaking wood into a drink, maybe.
This unit is a pure drink-making machine. Vitamix makes some other models that apparently make bread dough and chop nuts. The 5004 however has only two speedsfast and really, really fast. For reasons I dont understand, these are labeled as Low and High on the unit.
This is a big unit. The base of the 5004 is larger than your typical blender. It has to be a little bigger to contain all that power. It measures eight inches wide and nine inches deep. The base alone sits seven and a half inches high making it higher and wider than the typical blender. But it isnt typical and is well worth a little extra counter space.
The 5004 comes with a 48-ounce mixing container. While it might seem to be a little cheap at first since it isnt made of glass, it isnt. Glass breaks when dropped and is relatively inexpensive when compared to the polycarbonate material of the 5004. Polycarbonate isnt cheap. In fact at about 3/8 thick it will stop a bullet. While I dont think this container will be capable of shielding users from gunfire, it isnt going to break when you drop it . . . even repeatedly.
In my opinion, the container makes a pretty big difference in the quality and consistency of drink blending. The bottom of the container is square rather than round. This seems to force the mixture through the blades and eliminate air bubbles that stop the process.
The container is marked in ounces on the side for handy reference. It features a rubber lid with a removable center. I dont know that the removable center is really required. If you are blending while slowly adding ingredients with this machine, your puree will actually overheat and become warm. Its best to toss stuff in all at once and let it rip for thirty seconds or so.
The only negative to polycarbonate is that it does scratch rather easily. Careful cleaning of the container will keep it looking good for a long time though. Avoid using abrasive cleansers, brillo and scotch-brite pads on the container. A new container costs about $100.
In fact the best way to clean the container is with warm water and dish soap. Just put the water and soap in the container and run the machine. Rinse it out when you are done and its clean. Another nice feature is that the bottom of this container doesnt unscrew. Ive seen at least one household blender that would sometimes come unscrewed while blending. (You want to talk about a big mess?)
If you want a true pro quality unit that is going to last for many years, this one is tough to beat. The price is going to put it out of reach for all but the most serious frozen drink enthusiast. Still, I think that it is well worth it. For the typical consumer who might make a few drinks in this a day, it will likely last twenty years or more. In food service we were using these to make fifty plus drinks daily. I never had one fail in over three years.
Those who enjoy entertaining, granitas, milkshakes or frappes often will find that this machine is well worth the investment. You simply cannot find a machine that makes a better drink than this one.
© 2005 Scott Noble All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.
You might also be interested in the wannabe Pro blender - Black and Decker Problend.