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Vita-mix Professional 500 Series Blender Review

by The Review CrewAugust 30, 2010

vitamix-pro-500

Vita-mix Professional 500 Series Product Information:

Awarded: Reviewboard Perfect 10 Award

Launched Late 4th Quarter 2009
Original MSRP at Launch: $699.99
Average Price On The Internet (9/1/10): $574.99 (shipped)
Average Competitor Price Point: $394 (2 HP Blender, Not necessarily matching other attributes)
Average Used Price on eBay: $485 + shipping

Contents of Box:

  • Blender Base Unit
  • 64 oz Blending Container & Lid
  • Blade
  • New “Create Recipes” Vita-mix 3-Ring Binder Cookbook
  • “Let’s Get Started” Instructional DVD
  • Accelerator Tool

inside vitamixvitamixbox

Advertised Features From Vita-mix:

The unique features of our new Professional 500 Series promise results that are restaurant-quality, no matter how you choose to mix it up! Enjoy pre-programmed convenience on the most popular processes along with the culinary creativity that comes with our popular variable speed and pulse features!

  • Three convenient Pre-Programmed Settings
    Smoothies, Hot Soups, Frozen Desserts
    Consistent results for every process, every time
    Settings are time-saving and easy-to-use
  • All new Pulse Feature
    Offers greater control in processing
    Refines texture to your taste
  • Variable Speed Control
    Unlimited versatility in the home kitchen
    Go from Low to High in one smooth motion
  • Brushed Stainless Finish
    Elegant, fashion-forward gourmet look
    Fingerprint-resistant and easy-to-clean
  • “Create” Recipe Book with Easel-back Design
    More than 300 gourmet chef-inspired recipes
  • “Let’s Get Started” DVD Instructional Video
    Features bonus recipes and operating techniques.

Signature Vita-Mix features that are part
of this all-new machine:

  • Commercial-grade 2+ Peak Horsepower Motor
  • Large-capacity 64-ounce BPA-free Eastman Tritan
    copolyester container
  • Spill-proof vented lid with removable plug
  • Patented Tamper for processing thicker mixtures
  • Full 7-Year Warranty

Manufacturer also claims you can mill grain into flour, and knead bread dough in this blender.

Actual Operation & Use:

Using the Vita-Mix Professional 500 Series was very straight forward.  There is a power button underneath a small ‘shelf’-like space in the front of the machine.  Toggling the switch powers the unit on (there is a blue indicator light so you don’t have to wonder if the power is actually on).  You select the speed setting; there are 10 manual speed selections and 3 pre-programmed variable speed selections labeled Smoothies, Hot Soups, and Frozen Desserts.  If you select the manual speed setting you can toggle the start switch on the right side and let it go, or use the pulse button on the left side to do your own version of ‘variable speed’ blending. 

The pre-programmed settings are very useful and we were able to use them with a number of unrelated recipes once we became familiar with what they did.   We were able to verify and perform each and every one of the manufacturer’s advertised features.  Moreover, we were able to conclude that the Vita-Mix Professional 500 Series operated at or above the performance range specified in the manufacturer’s claims.

We found the Vita-Mix Professional 500 Series was incredibly versatile and able to perform all the tasks we threw at it with ease and efficiency. We tested the Vita-Mix Professional 500 Series in the following areas we felt were key to determining the units performance and ability to achieve “Restaurant Quality” results:

  1. Milling grains into flour (tested with Tapioca, barley and oats).  The result was outstanding the machine produced flour that we were able to use and test in the next phase.
  2. Kneading dough. We took the flour we able to mill from various grains in phase one and made some very tasty breads.  We were able to mix ingredients into dough and then knead the dough using the Vita-Mix Professional 500 Series.
  3. Soup Puree – The Pre-programmed speed selection was used to create several puree’s our staff used to make some incredible tasting soups.  The unit was able to create a smooth and creamy textured puree that really made a difference in the final product.
  4. Smoothies –  The preprogrammed speed selection for Smoothie is spot on.  It makes Smoothies creamy… even if you are only adding water and ice to the fruit mixture.
  5. Frozen deserts –  While the Vita-Mix Professional 500 Series is capable of doing a lot more in this area we tested it with hard ice cream, milk, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, a splash of vanilla, a secret ingredient (which we can’t reveal that comes from a 50 year old concoction at an old farm stand in Maine) and 1 egg.  The result was an outstanding old fashioned chocolate milk shake that had everyone in the office wanting to test it personally.

 

Issues:

 

None.

Warranty:

 

We take warranty checks pretty seriously and this is where a lot of companies have lost points since we started this new review model.  We called technical support (anonymously) on 3 separate occasions.  We have 3 issues we cover from 3 different personality types:

  1. Angry Customer
  2. The “I don’t understand”… ANYTHING customer.
  3. The knowledgeable prosumer (an enthusiast that knows almost everything about the product).

We take points if the support staff speak with an accent that is thick enough that we can’t understand what they said and are forced to ask them to repeat themselves.  Our findings where as follows:

  • Vita-Mix support staff are English speaking
  • Vita-Mix support staff are knowledgeable about their product lines and are able to convey that knowledge quickly and effectively.
  • Vita-Mix offers a 7 year FULL Warranty.  In the call with customer profile #3 they offered to issue a call tag (pay for and arrange the pick-up of our Vita-Mix Blender so they could repair it and return it at their expense).

** To make it clear we had no problems with the Vita-Mix blender that we received for review (Actually the first unit we got was damaged in shipping but they replaced it immediately).  We had to make up reasons to call the support staff to evaluate their abilities.

Company Background:

In 1937 W.G. Barnard (Papa) introduced the 1st Vita-Mix machine. Over the years the company has seen growth and been able to ride a solid reputation for quality and power.  It is not uncommon for someone to own a 25 year old Vita-Mix machine and have no plans to upgrade. The current leadership at Vita-Mix came on in 2009.  Jodi (Barnard) Berg is the President, and John Barnard is the Executive Chairman and CEO.  Together they make a tag team duo that will continue to bring the Vita-Mix brand forward.

Summary & Conclusion:

The Vita-Mix Professional 500 Series blender performed better than advertised in every test we put it through.  We beat on it, worked it above capacity, and it kept on chugging along.  We actually tried to bog it down, hoping we could stress it out to the point where it didn’t operate well and we failed.  (Within reason, under what we felt were normal consumer demands on a machine like this)

We completely retooled our product review process 2 months ago in order to provide the best possible 2010 Holiday Buyer’s Guide.  One of the goals we set out was to make our testing process incredibly rigorous.  We expect that .001% of every product we review will get a perfect 10.  The Vita-Mix Professional 500 Series blender outperformed every test bed we had, and is the first machine to get a Perfect 10 rating from us on our new scaling platform.  When we looked at the results of this review we actually went back to our process and re-evaluated it to see if we were being too easy. We were not.

Out of the 400 or so products we have reviewed for possible inclusion in our 2010 Holiday Buyer’s Guide The Vita-Mix Professional 500 Series blender is the only product to date that received this score.  They are the first product to receive our 2010 Perfect 10 Award.  This was so unexpected we don’t even have a logo for the new award made up yet.

Congratulations to Vita-Mix for making one heck of a good product.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.