My old blender has developed something of an inferiority complex since our latest kitchen gadget arrived. The old one (which cost something like $20) began fading into the background starting a few weeks ago, when I tried to make my son what seemed to be a simple smoothie with milk, frozen berries and a frozen banana. Tried being the key word, as I ended up mostly frustrated as I stopped and started and rearranged ingredients with a spoon.
I’ve long thought about getting one of those fancy-schmancy high-powered blenders, the best-known brands being Vitamix and Blendtec. But even with a Costco-style good deal, the standard model Vitamix would set me back nearly $400. Not in the budget. A reconditioned one is a bit cheaper, but still not in the ballpark of what I have available.
In this kind of situation, my first instinct is to look for a used model on Craigslist or eBay, but what I found is that Vitamixes retain their value for a long long time. Even machines made in the 1980s were fetching upwards of $200. And, while they’ve obviously lasted a long time, there’s no guarantee that they will continue to work, or work as well as something new. And, back then, folks weren’t as aware of things like BPA in plastics.
I wanted something that would make smooth green whole-fruit, whole-vegetable smoothies. More than one member of our family has ADD/ADHD, and I know poor breakfast-eating habits just make things harder, so I was hoping to introduce a protein- and healthy-fat-full smoothie breakfast routine. And ADD/ADHD aside, we could all use a few more vegetables and fruits in our diet.
The Research Process
So, looking closer at eBay and Amazon, along with sites where people discussed blenders, I carefully researched every option. I watched comparison video after comparison video — not very exciting, I have to tell you. And, finally, I discovered a couple of options that seemed to be somewhat lesser known. Both were touted as being 3 horsepower machines (Vitamix claims 2.5 HP), and both had the Vitamix-like tamper and variable speed control.
One was a blender made by a company called Cleanblend, which was available on Amazon (30 reviews w/5 stars) and been reviewed very positively on YouTube. It was priced at $199, with a 2-year warranty.
The second, sold mostly on eBay but also available on Amazon(only 4 reviews) was the New Age Living BL1500 Commercial Blender, which comes with a 5-year warranty. The eBay seller had a very positive history, review-wise, and all of the commenters who bought the blender seemed to be very happy about it. The seller seems to have all different types of listings, both fixed price and auction. But the bottom line was that you could get it for as little as $140.
But neither of these is a good deal if it’s a scam or not what it seems. Both the Cleanblend and New Age Living web sites look kind of amateurish and sketchy. For example, on the New Age Living site, there’s a bit at the bottom that says “social links go here.” Didn’t anyone finish making the site?
And the Amazon reviews on New Age Living were kind of questionable, too, with several different reviewers managing to post the same review to the white, red and black versions of the item, but had reviewed nothing else before or since. There was one critical review, however, and it appeared only on one color. Hmm… Anyone who did their research wouldn’t likely buy it at Amazon, though, because it was priced significantly higher there, so these issues didn’t turn me off as much as they could have.
So, yes, this isn’t really about the blender… yet, but more about my purchase process, because I’m hoping this review saves someone some of the hemming and hawing I had to go through as I did my research.
For price reasons, along with the reassurance I got from the eBay reviews, and because of the 5-year warranty, I chose the New Age Living BL1500 blender, and it arrived on Friday (this review was written by Pamela Parker Caird and published 2014/08/02). From what I’ve been able to deduce, the company is run by a guy in Ontario, Canada, and he has the machines made in China and imported.
How Does It Work?
But what you really want to know is how it works, right? So far, very well. It has been easy to use and clean and has powered through things like broccoli florets, a whole apple (with core) and that pesky frozen fruit. Ice cubes are no match for this blender. I really like having the tamper, as, especially with frozen fruit, it has been needed.
So far, I’ve made mostly smoothies but also tried a iced coffee drink and chopped up some cooked chicken for chicken salad. Any problems I’ve had have come from my own inexperience as a smoothie-maker — some of them came out chalky from protein powder or too-broccoli-like. I’ve got a lot to learn about smoothie making, and I need to shop for spinach and kale!
Update 8/5/14: Since writing this review I’ve made peanut butter from unsalted roasted peanuts — yummy and fairly easy except I had to add a little extra oil, and it wasn’t easy to get out of the jar. I also bought some kale and the kale-containing smoothies have been very smooth. No complaints thus far. Will continue to update this post occasionally.
Now, I can’t really compare this to either the Vitamix or the Blendtec, because I don’t have personal experience. However, I’ve watched lots of YouTube videos of those two brands, and the performance seems comparable. The other thing I’m not qualified to talk about yet is durability or longevity, as it’s only just arrived and it will take years to know whether it comes anywhere close to the Vitamix level. That said, I could buy a few of these for the price of one Vitamix — not that I want to, as I am a firm believer in buying quality for the long term, rather than accepting planned obsolescence.
So, for those of you contemplating a purchase of the New Age Living BL1500, here are a few pictures that I hope help you make your decision:
And here’s a close-up of the controls. On the left, there’s the on and off switch. In the middle, you can control the speed. On the right is a “Pulse” button not meant to be used for an extended period of time.
Speaking of which, don’t expect much from the manual that comes with this blender. It’s barely comprehensible and obviously not written by anyone who has English as his/her first language. You’re definitely not getting a Vitamix-like recipe book, either. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, I’m adding a chart comparing the various low-budget high-powered blender options that I considered. Because this is a wide chart, please click to this other page to see it.