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I currently don't have a blender after purchasing my own home and am looking to get one for making smoothies primarily, but also for pureeing for soups, etc.

I had a smoothie maker that I won as a prize; it was very obviously a cheap unit. It barely handled frozen fruit and yogurt. Ice cream and frozen fruit burned up the motor.

I am aware of the extreme "Home Improvement"-style "Binford-3000" Blendtec blenders (also as proposed in this question) but they are extremely expensive and I don't plan on incorporating cell phones or garden rakes into my smoothies.

What should I look for to get a quality blender? I don't want to purchase an inexpensive one three or four times in the next few years. I'd prefer one that will last a long time and prove to be a good kitchen tool.

Edit:

In shopping for blenders, it seems that most seem to be between $30 and $150. Obviously there are some questionably cheap ones and many that exceed that range. So for the purposes of this question, assume that range to be the budget.

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What is your budget? –  hobodave Aug 5 '10 at 6:11
    
I'll add budget info in the question, a good point. –  JYelton Aug 14 '10 at 0:25
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6 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Look for a strong motor and thick blades. If the blades are thin, they're likely to warp over time. The motor needs to be able to spin those blades through the liquid.

Look for a thick glass container. The plastic ones are unlikely to deal with the heat of things like soups and sauces being dumped in.

Check the gasket between the glass container and the piece that attaches the blades. A thin, flimsy gasket is likely to start leaking before a thicker, softer gasket.

Look at the number of teeth on the connection from the motor to the blade. The more teeth, the greater the surface area being used to distribute the power to the blade mechanism and is less likely to wear out.

Overall, as with many things, one of the quickest ways to tell a good one is to weigh them both. The heavier item is better. No one pays for shipping extra weight unless it's there for a good reason.

(note that the "heavier" rule doesn't apply to electronics like cellphones/computers, etc. where the cost of making it small is actually higher)

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All good points (although I'm not sure on glass vs. plastic; I've have a hand-me-down blender w/ a plastic container that's probably lasted 30 years, although I'll admit I don't use it every day). ... but one point to add -- look inside the carafe/mixing container -- it should have significant baffles (ie, not be round and smooth). You need them to force mixing to occur, and not just spinning things around the container. And if nothing else with the weight, it keeps it from walking across your counter when you leave it on for a few minutes. –  Joe Aug 5 '10 at 2:10
    
Another important feature is a lid that seals tightly for the life of the blender. –  Tim Gilbert Aug 5 '10 at 2:43
    
On the topic of "weight = quality", one of my slotted cooking spoons developed a rattle in the handle, I popped off the end cap to see why, and inside there was a small metal weight inside that broke free of it's glue. –  Nick T Apr 3 '12 at 1:21
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In addition to the points mentioned by the others, you also want to have the base tapered so that it expands upward. The smaller the base the better contact the blades will have with the food.

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If you're looking for something with a long lifespan, then I'd also consider spare parts, and how long you expect the model to be around.

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In addition to the points of the previous answer I would like to add:

  • Volume of the bowl
  • Durability of the clutch

The clutches in many of the ones I have seen are made of plastic and can very easily wear out fast if they slip or aren't engaged properly before power is applied.

If the chopper bowl is too small then everything will be liquefied instantly because the chopped pieces don't have enough space to move out of the way before teh blade hits them again. I got a philips HR1611 recently and it's totally impossible to chop anything, everything gets pulverised. This makes the chopper attachment more or less pointless because you can always liquefy things with the stick attachment.

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For smoothies you should look for something with plenty of room beside the blades. The blender I have at home is similar to this picture.

Cuisinart Blender

The spinning blades are in a well which makes it difficult for frozen material to get under. For juices and soups this blender is fine but whenever I make smoothies it reaches a point where the blades are spinning in an empty cavity. Contrast this to a state of the art blender like Blendtec.

enter image description here

The bottom is very wide as well as the blade. More than enough room for any sort of thick liquid to get down there and thoroughly blended. When shopping around for blenders, try to be aware of the space available for the liquid to move.

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Look for something well-made with a 5 prong blade.

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The question is what features to look for in a blender, rather than a specific model or brand. You should modify your answer to reflect this. –  JYelton Jul 31 '13 at 18:04
    
It has the features mentioned in this forum, and what the the person was inquiring about, if you read says budget but of quality...read the whole article and edit JYelton –  Lee Jul 31 '13 at 18:11
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This isn't a forum. Also I wrote the original question. What I am advising is that you expand on what qualities make Teafal a good choice. The 5-prong blade is a great start, perhaps you could expand on what "made well" means here. –  JYelton Jul 31 '13 at 18:17
    
I've edited this down to the part that purportedly answers the question - the actual features of the blender, not the make/model - but as JYelton (the person who asked the question!) said, this isn't a very useful answer. How do you tell if it's well-made? How does a five-prong blade make it better? (Is it more important than all the other great attributes mentioned in other answers?) –  Jefromi Jul 31 '13 at 19:23
    
And unless I'm looking at the wrong thing, Tefal's blender doesn't even have a 5-prong blade –  Jefromi Jul 31 '13 at 19:46
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