Pros: Lots of settings; touch-pad controls; 5-cup capacity; decent customer service
Cons: Noisy; ice crush setting inadequate; not terribly effective; blade broke!
Rating: 2 out of 5
First posted 3/4/2003
We don’t use a blender very often, but every now and then it’s a handy thing. So we got the Cuisinart SmartPower 7-Speed Electronic Blender as a gift one year.
It looked nice and impressive. It has a good 5-cup capacity. It has a variety of settings: stir, chop, mix, puree, liquefy, pulse, and ice crush. You can use the “pulse” setting to pulse the blender instead of running it continuously (okay, so that’s probably pretty obvious). Most of the other settings are just different speeds, from slow to insane.
So why aren’t we happy with this blender? Well, for a number of reasons. Let’s start with…
The Noise Level: This is a very noisy blender! I don’t know if there are quieter ones out there, but I certainly hope there are.
The Ice Crush Setting: There’s an ice crush setting. When we use it, it chips gradually away at the ice so that, if you sit there for a long time, eventually you’ll end up with lots of small ice chips, most of which are already melting by the time you’re done.
Effectiveness: Want to blend a smoothie? You may have to mix in extra liquid. We’ve played around with a number of smoothie recipes, and found that many of them are simply too thick for this blender to handle. You have to keep alternating a moment of blending with using a spatula to smoosh things around, or you have to add extra liquid. Otherwise the blender just sits there hacking away at the bottom of your strawberries, and the rest of the stuff in the blender jar doesn’t do anything.
Even if you do have enough liquid, it still might not help. Last night we turned some leftover cold coffee into a wonderful dessert by blending it with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce (yum!). We ran it for a while, but there were still lots of ice cream lumps leftover. So if you want something to be a uniform consistency, this isn’t a very helpful blender.
We don’t even end up using most of the speed settings; they sound all nice, but they’re mostly unnecessary. I honestly think that slow, medium, and high would have worked just fine.
Breakage: The blade broke not long after we got the blender! We were just using the blender as normal–not on anything unusual or hard–and one of the blades cracked straight through! We sent the blade back to Cuisinart. They did send us a whole blade back, but it was obviously the old blade patched up, not a new blade, which didn’t make us entirely happy. To be fair, though, it has held up since then.
Ease of Cleaning: The smooth touch-pad controls are, in fact, very easy to clean. The rest of it is so-so. The jar is as easy to clean as anything glass. Then there’s the two-part lid. The plastic of the lid (as well as the plastic of the base that screws onto the jar) has a lot of nooks and crannies. It’s okay for cleaning (particularly if you put it in the dishwasher), but completely towel-drying it is next to impossible. This isn’t generally a problem unless you need to clean the whole thing and then use it again right away. Cleaning & drying the blade is a bit tricky, since there are blades angled downward toward the base, which makes it tough to clean or dry under the blades without risking your fingers.
Some parts of the blender can be put in a dishwasher; others can’t (the blade assembly can’t).
A few extra feature notes
The base that screws onto the glass jar (and holds the blade assembly in place) slides very easily into place on the motor housing. You can use the pulse feature with any of the available speeds. The lid just presses easily into place, and the seal has been pretty good at not leaking. There’s also a compartment where you can store the cord.
The lid has a removable clear plastic part in the middle (that holds two ounces of liquid); you can take it out and pour things in while the blender is running. Warning: don’t leave this part out of the lid when you start the blender, or you could end up with a mess on your hands. Typically when the blender starts up it splashes quite a bit.
Honestly, the only reason we haven’t replaced this thing yet is that we don’t use it very often. If we ever got back to making smoothies regularly, I know we’d get a new blender. I grew up in a household where Cuisinart was a brand name well-loved for quality, but this is a semi-adequate blender for occasional use, and that’s about it.