What do you plan to blend? Most hand blenders make quick work of soft foods like milkshakes, refried beans and smoothies (especially if the fruit is fresh). Frozen-fruit smoothies are a tougher task. Don't count on your hand blender to crush ice for frozen drinks, though -- reviews say you really need a countertop blender for that (covered in our separate report on Blenders).
Are you blending vibrant sauces or smoothies? If so, consider color. Some owners choose stainless steel or chrome hand blenders because they say plastic ones pick up stains from tomato sauce, turmeric and the like. Of course, you can also select a color purely for style -- the Best Reviewed Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-76 is available in 11 different colors.
Do you want a chopper? Pricier hand blenders (in the $60 to $100 range) usually come with a mini-chopper bowl attachment. This turns the blender into a two-for-one tool, allowing you to chop small amounts of vegetables and nuts.
How often will you use it? If you only plan to use your hand blender for the occasional smoothie or pot of soup, reviews say an inexpensive model will serve you well. But if you think you'll use the hand blender daily, it could pay to choose a more powerful, durable model.
Corded or cordless? Some users like the convenience of a cordless hand blender -- but rechargeable batteries can drain quickly, and corded models tend to perform better in professional tests.
How deep are your pots? If you plan to blend soups, choose a model long enough to reach the bottom of your deepest pot comfortably.
With hand blenders, we found that even when one model gets great reviews, another within the same brand may be a dud. This is one appliance where it's crucial to pay close attention to model numbers and names.