Many-bladed and excels at all blending tasks. The Ninja's infomercial touts "Ancient Asian metalworking secrets" as the key to blending. Funny as it sounds, experts can't argue with the blender's performance. In one top test, the Ninja Master Prep Pro QB1004 works as well as the top-rated Vitamix 5200 luxury blender in almost every way. It crushes ice and blends piña coladas perfectly and comes in second to the Vitamix in only two tasks: puréeing soup and grating Parmesan.
The Ninja is equipped with a separate chopping bowl, so experts chopped garlic, onions and almonds. It beat out 14 other food choppers in the test.
The Ninja is designed differently from a regular blender. Instead of a jar with blades and a motor on the bottom, the Ninja has a motor housing that fits on top of the blender jug. A metal stalk with blades all along its length sticks down into the jug. "It's not very good for making small quantities, like salad dressing, since the blade is not at the very bottom of the container," one Amazon.com reviewer notes.
But for many other tasks (especially ice), most owners agree the Ninja blends and chops well.. "This bad boy turns ice cubes into snow cone ice!" writes one Amazon.com user. Another agrees that it "destroys ice" and easily churns out a frozen-fruit smoothie. A third made "margaritas in a flash," and others make gazpacho, grind coffee beans, chop onions and cilantro, and purée hummus in the Ninja. One says it successfully liquefies his daily green smoothie, a notoriously tough task for blenders: "I blend about 15 different types of fruits and vegetables and this food processor chops through them like pudding!"
Includes three dishwasher-safe containers, and most owners find it easy to operate. Expert testers find the Ninja Master Prep Pro QB1004 very easy to use and clean, and most owners agree.
Unlike other blenders, it comes with three BPA-free plastic containers: 48- and 40-ounce pitchers and a 16-ounce chopping bowl. You can simply move the motor housing from one task to the next. Each bowl has a storage lid, and everything's dishwasher-safe (except for the motor, of course).
But owners do find some drawbacks. The Ninja's single-speed button must be held down while blending; some owners say they don't mind, because the Ninja blends so quickly. There's a tiny, hinged door in the lid that can make adding ingredients difficult. Liquids can splash out, too: "It has been nothing but a disaster in my kitchen," one Amazon.com reviewer writes of making margaritas, "the mix bubbles and froths copious amounts of sticky goo out through the hinged pour spout on the lid as well as out the stem hole for the blade." We found a similar complaint at HomeDepot.com.
The sharp blades can be hard to handle. "I cut myself every time I get near this machine," says one Amazon.com reviewer. The blades are "just as sharp as a scalpel only facing many directions at the same time." Still, most owners report no problems using the Ninja Master Prep Pro QB1004.
A large blender with storage issues. The Ninja Master Prep Pro isn't a giant appliance, but it does have many components. "It comes with the motor, three blender jars and lids, so be prepared to store it," warns one owner at HomeDepot.com.
Warranty accounts for questionable durability. Although it passes one expert test for durability (crushing ice 45 times), this blender is made of plastic and several Amazon.com owners say the Ninja broke quickly -- often because the plastic parts near the motor melted or stripped out.
The machine's largest blade broke upon its third use for one owner. Another says, "It's impressive in the beginning but it sure as heck cannot withstand any test of time."
The Ninja Master Prep Pro QB1004 has been around for a couple of years, but we didn't find many reviews from long-term owners. One Amazon.com customer awards it 5 stars after more than a year of daily use: "When this blender kicks the bucket, I will definitely buy another Ninja." When you purchase the blender directly from Ninja, it is backed by a two-year limited warranty. Other retailers list a one-year warranty, the standard for pricier blenders.
Very quiet, for a blender. In an expert test of more than 50 blenders, the Ninja Master Prep Pro QB1004 ranks as one of the quietest. Several owners at Amazon.com and HomeDepot.com agree: A college student who uses it to blend smoothies says, "The Oster blender I had been using before the Ninja was so, so loud. But with this, I can blend away in the morning without the fear of waking up my roommate!"
Another Amazon.com reviewer finds it surprisingly quiet and efficient. "No loud crushing noises, no food stuck, just a smooth stirring motion that turned my frozen goods into a beautiful smoothie in less than 60 seconds!"
If you're on a budget, top experts -- and most owners -- find the Ninja Master Prep Pro QB1004 the best alternative to pricey blenders.
Excellent The Ninja Master Prep Pro QB1004 bills itself as both a blender and food chopper, so ConsumerReports.org editors run it through both tests. This short, free video explains briefly how it fared, but only subscribers can see the full results.
Review: Claim Check: Ninja Master Prep Professional, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
Good About 100 owners review the Ninja Master Prep Pro QB1004 here. Three out of four rate it highly, saying it's powerful, versatile and easy to clean. Those who rate it lower usually complain that it leaked or the plastic parts broke quickly.
Review: Ninja QB1004 Master Prep Pro Food and Drink Mixer, Black, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Oct. 2012
Good In this short test, Brian Krepshaw successfully makes salsa and fresh-fruit smoothies with the Ninja Master Prep Pro QB1004. He says he appreciates that it's dishwasher-safe and comes with three work bowls with storage lids and a recipe book.
Review: Taking the Ninja Master Prep Pro Out for a Spin, Brian Krepshaw, Aug. 5, 2010
Good Again, the Ninja Master Prep Pro QB1004 earns high marks from owners. It averages 4.4 stars (out of 5) among two-dozen owner ratings at HomeDepot.com. Also as usual, the few bad reviews say the blender leaked or broke.
Review: Ninja Master Prep Pro 48 oz. Blender, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of Oct. 2012