Not quite as versatile or smooth-blending as Vitamix. In a head-to-head test by one reliable expert, the Blendtec Total Blender Classic Four Side TB-621-20 (*Est. $430) lags behind the top-rated Vitamix 5200 (*Est. $450). Both crush ice excellently, but the Blendtec can't blend frozen drinks, purée soups or grate Parmesan cheese as nicely as the Vitamix.
Good Housekeeping testers agree that the Blendtec is a fantastic ice-crusher, but "although it purées foods to a very smooth texture, it did leave a chunk of ice in a test batch of smoothies." It's not as versatile as the Vitamix, either. It's "too fast and powerful to use for chopping," editors say, and although the manufacturer says it can produce hot soup (reaching a maximum of 110 degrees Fahrenheit), "it didn't produce mixtures that were hot enough to serve."
Many Amazon.com customers bought the Blendtec to create smoothies, and most love it. "Wow! Now this is a blender!" one writes. "This thing sucked the fruits and ice down into its vortex amazingly well." Another says, "Previous blenders had left me accustomed to fine chunks of whatever I was blending, but the Blendtec could turn a whole unpeeled orange into what looked like orange syrup." Still, a few owners are underwhelmed. One says the Blendtec shuts itself down every time he tries to blend anything thick, like margaritas or milkshakes.
Mixed marks for ease of use. In some ways, reviews say the Blendtec Total Blender Classic Four Side TB-621-20 is a snap to use -- but in other ways, it's a pain.
It "has lots of user-friendly features, like easy-to-read measurement markings and smooth controls," say testers at Good Housekeeping. They like the easy-pour jar and built-in timer, too. But there's no place to store the cord, and there's no "stop" button, instead you have to press one of the preprogrammed buttons to stop the blender.
The six preprogrammed buttons let the Blendtec run on autopilot to make smoothies, crushed ice, ice cream and more. Plenty of users like to simply hit the button and walk away, but others wish for more control, as with the Vitamix 5200 dial that allows speed adjustments.
The Blendtec has a lid with a removable center plug so you can add ingredients while blending. Unlike other models, this blender doesn't come with a tamper accessory for pushing food towards the blades. Users disagree on whether a tamper is a necessity. Some say the blender is efficient enough on its own, while others resort to pre-chopping big items before blending.
Blendtec says its square Four Side jar holds "nearly two quarts," but the owner's manual advises against filling it past the top marked line (32 ounces). The manufacturer sells an identical version with a five-sided, 90-ounce jar -- the Blendtec Total Blender Classic WildSide TB-621-20 ($425) -- but again, the manual advises against filling it more than halfway.
Owners say that Blendtec's recommendation to whiz soapy water in the jar to clean it works. One Amazon.com customer writes, "Cleaning the Blendtec is by far the easiest blender I have ever cleaned." Like the Vitamix, the Blendtec's blade doesn't detach from the jar. Blendtec says the jar can go into the dishwasher -- but only on the top rack, but at 15 inches tall, it probably won't fit.
Not as sturdy as the Vitamix. Despite its hefty price tag, the Blendtec Total Blender Classic Four Side TB-621-20 "doesn't look like it costs a lot" -- a con, in Good Housekeeping editors' opinions.
One Amazon.com buyer agrees, saying that compared to the Vitamix, the "Blendtec is not as substantial in construction."
The Blendtec is light (7 pounds), slim (7 inches by 8 inches) and short (15 inches tall). It easily fits between a standard countertop and upper cabinets. The base comes in black, white or red, with a clear copolyester jug.
If it lasts, will someone help when something goes wrong? Capable of running the ice-crush cycle 45 times in one organization's test, the Blendtec also proves durable in the Food & Wine test kitchen as well as at Planet Smoothie, TCBY and other chains, Grace Parisi points out -- but she doesn't mention which model number.
Ten percent of Amazon.com reviewers give this Blendtec model a low rating, usually complaining that the blender broke. Several blame a black plastic gear fitting around the blade that tends to chip off or melt after two years of use.
Both brands offer a seven-year warranty, but owners say nothing compares to the customer service and reliability of the Vitamix.
Wear your earplugs. This is a loud blender. Good Housekeeping says the Blendtec Total Blender Classic Four Side TB-621-20 is "very noisy during use." Another testing agency rates it fair for noise (the rival Vitamix 5200 rates good).
Plenty of owners complain, too. One user at Amazon.com shares her experience: "The cat hates me. I got a pair of earmuffs from the shooting supply place to wear while using it. Maybe overkill, but I think that using it twice a day without them would result in hearing damage eventually." One earplug-user finds the Blendtec's noise "almost unbearable ... like running a leaf blower at full power inside your house." Others say the noise doesn't bother them, or they don't notice it being any louder than other blenders.
The Blendtec Total Blender Classic Four Side TB-621-20 costs as much as the Vitamix 5200, but reviews say the Blendtec isn't as versatile, effective, easy to use, quiet or durable. If you need a heavy-duty blender, the Best Reviewed Vitamix 5200 is your best bet.
Excellent The Blendtec Total Blender Classic Four Side TB-621-20 is one of more than 50 blenders tested here. Experts crush ice, blend frozen drinks and more to find the best blenders. They also consider noise, durability and convenience (such as ease of cleaning).
Review: Blendtec Total Blender TB-621-20, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, June 2012
2. Good Housekeeping
Good The powerful Blendtec Total Blender Classic Four Side TB-621-20 earns a grade of A in tests here, making it one of Good Housekeeping's top recommended blenders. Editors note plenty of pros and cons: For example, it's great at grinding coffee beans and blending frozen drinks, but it's "too fast and powerful to use for chopping.
Review: Blendtec Total Blender, Editors of Good Housekeeping, July 2010
Good About 300 users review the Blendtec Total Blender Classic Four Side TB-621-20 here, awarding it an average of 4.4 stars (out of 5). Many use it to blend smoothies, and they say they love the way it purées all kinds of produce, seeds and ice into a perfectly smooth drink. About one in 10 gives it a low score, though, with plenty of complaints that the motor burns out or that plastic melts and chips off into the food.
Review: Blendtec Home The Professional's Choice Total Blender, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Oct. 2012
4. Food & Wine Magazine
Fair Grace Parisi extols the Blendtec blender (she doesn't give a model number) as an essential tool in the Food & Wine test kitchen. Editors wore out a dozen Hamilton Beach blenders before they discovered the Blendtec, which has successfully stood up to the rigors of the test kitchen.
Review: Test Kitchen Essential Tool, Part 3, Grace Parisi, June 4, 2008
Fair TheKitchn.com managing editor Cambria Bold says Vitamix and Blendtec blenders are "great multi-taskers" for the kitchen. But she lists only the Blendtec Total Blender Classic Four Side TB-621-20 (and a cheaper KitchenAid blender) as essentials to consider if you're setting up a kitchen.
Review: The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Small Electric Appliances, Cambria Bold, May 3, 2012