Nearly perfect results, from soup to margaritas. Cook's Illustrated editors pit the Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL against their "Ferrari of blenders," the Vitamix 5200 -- and the less-expensive Breville easily keeps up with the champ.
"It sailed through every test," editors say of the Breville. It churns out perfect frozen-fruit smoothies, hummus, margaritas and crushed ice. Its kale smoothies and milkshakes aren't quite as flawless as the Vitamix's, but they're tasty enough to make the two blenders co-winners.
In a test for Men's Journal, chef Jesse Schenker prefers the Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL to the pricey Vitamix. The Breville makes "everything from potato soup to apple purée without a glitch."
Ice proves no problem for the Breville, says Laura Moser at The Wall Street Journal -- "it crushes ice like nobody's business" -- and owners at Amazon.com agree. "I have never had a blender that crushed ice like this," writes one owner who proclaims her blended coffee beverages could pass for a Starbucks Frappuccino. Another Amazon.com reviewer -- a 25-year veteran bartender who blends "thousands of frilly frozen drinks every week" --awards the Breville 5 stars.
More intuitive than most blenders -- and it's dishwasher-safe. Reviewers find the Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL easier to use than most blenders. "It's intuitively designed," says Schenker at Men's Journal, with lots of little conveniences like a timer, illuminated buttons, cord storage underneath and ring pulls for the lid and power cord.
It has five speeds, plus a pulse button and preprogrammed ice-crush and smoothie buttons. "We liked the minute-long smoothie program, which alternated between pulsing and blending for a no-fuss beverage," says Moser at The Wall Street Journal.
The roomy, 48-ounce jar is particularly well designed, reviews say. Unlike other blenders, owners say you don't have to rearrange the ingredients or prod them with a tamper to urge them toward the Breville's blades. To prevent leaks, the lid fits snugly -- and so does the pullout cap in the center, which doubles as a measuring cup and allows you to add ingredients while the blender is running. Moser praises the Breville's wide-lipped jug "for the klutzy pourers among us," and owners agree it pours cleanly.
Cleanup's a snap, Amazon.com customers say. "I hate cleaning blender pitchers and this one is the easiest I've ever used," one writes. Like the Vitamix, the Breville's blades don't detach from the jug. Unlike Vitamix, though, Breville says its jug and lid are dishwasher safe.
Sleek, stylish and (so far) sturdy. "This is a beautiful blender," one Amazon.com owner writes, echoing others' opinions about the Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL. The Wall Street Journal calls it a "head-turner of a blender." Owners say its sleek, brushed-metal base feels heavy and sturdy -- no wobbling -- and it looks great next to stainless-steel appliances. At 6.5 inches wide by 8 inches deep, its footprint is a little smaller than the heavy-duty Vitamix 5200's, and at 17 inches tall the Breville will fit into the standard space beneath upper cabinets.
A question mark, as this is a recent model. A similar, older model -- the Breville Ikon Hemisphere LCD BBL600XL -- impressed some top experts, including Good Housekeeping, but many owners complained that it leaked. The newly designed Hemisphere Control BBL605XL has a redesigned pitcher, and we didn't find any leak-related complaints from experts or owners at Amazon.com. In fact, the BBL605XL receives a only a couple of low ratings at Amazon.com -- one from an owner who says the plastic plate came off the bottom, and another who says one of the blender's legs lost its rubber tip.
Cook's Illustrated editors give the Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL their highest rating for durability, based on its performance in their month-long abuse test and two encouraging features. First, like their trusty Vitamix 5200, the Breville will automatically shut off -- rather than overheat -- if the blending gets too tough. Second, both blenders build their jars out of the same super-tough BPA-free material (Eastman Tritan copolyester), "considered more durable and resistant to impact and the harsh combination of heat, water pressure and dishwasher chemicals" than the usual polycarbonate blenders.
"If it stands the test of time, we may eventually make it our sole winner" over their beloved but pricey Vitamix, editors say. But Breville backs the Hemisphere Control with a shorter warranty (one year) than Vitamix (seven years).
Limited noise. This is a quiet blender, Cook's Illustrated editors say. After measuring decibels, they award the Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL their highest score for quietness, finding it slightly quieter than the heavy-duty Vitamix 5200.
Owners at Amazon.com largely agree. "Surprisingly quiet," one writes. "Much quieter than I expected," says another. A third owner writes, "This blender is relatively quiet when making blended drinks or blending soft foods. It can be really nois[y] when using ice or harder foods. I would say it comes pretty close to the noise level of my Vitamix on ice or hard foods but much quieter on soft ingredients." A few other owners say it's about as loud as any other blender.
The Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL blends almost as well as the industrial-strength Vitamix 5200 -- and it costs less than half as much. It appears to be well built, too, experts say. For most home users, reviews say the Breville is all you need. It's our top blender for general use.
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1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Very Good Usually only available to subscribers, Cook's Illustrated has made their updated blender test results available to the public. In their tough testing, the $200 Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL works just as well as editors' own test-kitchen blender, the $450 Vitamix 5200. The Breville gets bonus points for using the same tough jug material as Vitamix. Editors recommend both blenders -- with the caveat that they don't know whether the Breville will stand up to years of abuse like the tried-and-true Vitamix.
Review: Breville The Hemisphere Control, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, Sept. 1, 2012
2. The Wall Street Journal
Good The Wall Street Journal tests blenders -- but this article doesn't name its test group or methods. Laura Moser picks the Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL as "the style maven" of the group. It's not just a pretty face, though -- it "crushes ice like nobody's business," has a preprogrammed smoothie setting that works well, an easy-pour jug and a "fantastic price."
Review: Blenders, Laura Moser, June 22, 2012
3. Men's Journal
Good Chef and restaurant owner Jesse Schenker tests four blenders for Men's Journal. He likes the Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL the best -- better than the Vitamix Professional Series 500.
Review: Best Blenders to Step Up Your Culinary Game, Damaris Colhoun, July 10, 2012
Good With more than 40 owner reviews posted, the Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL maintains a 4.2-star rating. Most praise its outstanding performance and usability. A few reviewers confuse this model with an earlier version when giving it bad feedback.
Review: Breville BBL605XL Hemisphere Control Blender, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Oct. 2012