Small blender makes great smoothies and more. Most blenders give you a large pitcher or a single-serve cup -- but the Cuisinart SmartPower CPB-300 blender gives you both. You can choose to blend in one of four 16-ounce travel cups, a 32-ounce jar or an 8-ounce chopping bowl.
Despite its small motor (350 watts, about half the power of most full-size blenders), the Cuisinart hangs with big blenders in one top test, cranking out very nice piña coladas, puréed soup and grated Parmesan cheese. Crushed ice turns out good -- not great.
Most owners use the Cuisinart for smoothies with positive results. Though, some do say to follow the directions carefully.
"I make smoothies everyday with almond milk, frozen fruits, almonds and raw carrots and have not had one bit of trouble, as long as I add the harder ingredients first and liquid second," writes one Amazon.com user who follows the owner's manual instructions.
Users who like very thick smoothies with lots of frozen fruit and little liquid aren't as pleased. They say the Cuisinart can't power through extremely thick mixtures.
The "chopper cup" gets mixed reviews. One Macys.com customer likes the way it chops chicken salad, and an Amazon.com reviewer is thrilled with the homemade tahini she's able to make from fresh seeds. But others say it can't replace a food processor. Another Amazon user couldn't get it to chop onions, garlic or ginger -- the Cuisinart just puréed it.
Convenience mastered. The Cuisinart SmartPower CPB-300 has perfected blending convenience. Editors at Real Simple magazine love it: "Here's a recipe for a good morning: Make a fresh fruit drink in one of this blender's four 16-ounce cups, pop on a lid (included), hit the road, and never wrestle with cleaning a big pitcher," they write. "Need to serve the entire family? This nifty appliance also comes with a 32-ounce canister."
Another testing organization agrees. It gives the Cuisinart a very good rating for convenience (ease of use and cleaning).
The blade assembly screws onto the top of the travel cup, and then off after it's blended. All parts are dishwasher safe. And with several cups included, there's less cleanup than with a standard blender -- a key selling point for buyers.
"I use this to make two protein shakes a day," says one Amazon.com user who previously battled with smoothie making in a standard blender. "Along comes this blender and my process is simple: Grab a 'to-go' cup…add [ingredients]. Blend for 25 seconds. Unscrew blending piece and wash for 10 seconds. Drink shake. Then, I have three more shakes before I have to run the dishwasher to clean the cups."
If you're a two-smoothie household (or more), owners say the Cuisinart makes it easy to blend different shakes for everybody.
"It's fun," writes one Amazon customer. "My kids love picking ingredients for their smoothies. I generally make the base of the smoothies in the 32-ounce pitcher and then pour it over their hand-picked ingredients in the personal cups."
The travel cups have lids, but with open holes at the top for drinking. Some owners wish the lids sealed shut, but one Amazon user points out that they're perfect for a straw.
Small footprint and streamlined look. The columnar base (in black/stainless steel, white or pink) flows seamlessly into the clear blending cups for a sleek look that owners like. At less than 16 inches tall, the Cuisinart CPB-300 fits into the standard space beneath upper cabinets -- and at less than 6 pounds, users say it's portable.
The blending containers are made from the same super-tough BPA-free material (Eastman Tritan copolyester) as the pitchers for the top-rated Vitamix 5200 (*Est. $450) and Breville Hemisphere Control Breville Hemisphere Control BBL605XL (*Est. $200) blenders. Experts consider this material sturdier than the polycarbonate most blenders use, and better able to withstand dishwasher cleaning.
A good warranty but it may burn out and leave you paying postage. The motor gets mixed reviews. Owners at Amazon.com and Macys.com complain that the motor burns out within a few weeks or months -- often when they're blending tough ingredients like ice. Cuisinart says it can crush 12 to 14 ice cubes in the big blender jar or six cubes in a travel cup, and it does survive one expert ice-crushing experiment -- successfully crushing ice 45 times in a row. Still, many users say they've tried, and it didn't work or damaged the blender.
The Cuisinart carries a three-year limited warranty, which beats the one-year warranty on most blenders -- but it doesn't cover shipping. Several owners complain about the warranty statement in the owner's manual holding owners responsible for all shipping costs if the CPB-300 breaks.
"It lasted nine months and I have to pay $20 for a repaired machine not even a replacement. (Plus, the headache of packaging it up and getting it to the post office.) No, thanks," writes one frustrated owner at Amazon.
Average noise level. One top-testing agency rates the Cuisinart SmartPower CPB-300 average for loudness, and owners tend to agree.
One Amazon.com customer writes that it's no louder than other blenders -- a common sentiment among owners. "Not too loud (unlike my high powered blender, which was so loud that it scared my kids if I turned it on without warning)," another says. Even when owners think the Cuisinart is loud, they say at least it's not loud for long: "It's loud ... but it blends and grates fast so the sound doesn't really trouble me that much," a Macys.com reviewer writes.
With multiple blending cups -- including a big quart container -- the Cuisinart SmartPower CPB-300 is the best choice among single-serve blenders. It costs more than a basic single-serve blender like the Hamilton Beach Single-Serve Blender (*Est. $16), but the Cuisinart is more versatile.
Excellent Editors here run the Cuisinart SmartPower CPB-300 through the same tests as full-size blenders -- crushing ice, blending frozen drinks, puréeing soups and more. They also consider loudness, durability and ease of use in choosing the best blenders.
Review: Cuisinart SmartPower CPB-300, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, June 2012
Good The Cuisinart SmartPower CPB-300 gets mostly good scores here, with more than 300 owner reviews posted. Some owners give it a low grade with complaints that the motor burned up -- but more than two-thirds give it 4 or 5 stars (out of 5), saying that if you follow the directions carefully. it makes great smoothies, hummus, nut butters and more.
Review: Cuisinart CPB-300 SmartPower 15-Piece Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Oct. 2012
3. Real Simple
Good After testing 52 blenders (editors don't say which ones, or how) Real Simple names the Cuisinart SmartPower CPB-300 the best single-serve blender. Testers like the convenience of blending right in the travel cups or in the big jar.
Review: The Best Blender for Your Kitchen, Lindsay Hunt, Not dated
Fair Macys.com attracts fewer owners reviews than Amazon.com -- less than 20 for the Cuisinart SmartPower CPB-300 -- but they tend to back up what other owners say: It's a convenient, effective blender for most users, but some say it broke too soon.
Review: Cuisinart CPB-300 Compact Portable Blender, Contributors to Macys.com, As of Oct. 2012