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Pros: The Vitamix 5200 is an outstanding kitchen appliance that offers workhorse power for processing whole food. This blender exceeded our expectations with regards to rendering seeds, stalks, leaves and tough roots into drinkable liquids.
Cons: I like that there are only three simple controls on the machine. However, two of them look exactly alike: the Turbo and the Power Switch. I’d like to see them make the two switches different colors. This is a minor issue, but when I’m doing tasks early in the morning (like making juice) I could use all the help I can get.
The Bottom Line: The Vitamix 5200 costs more than most blenders, but its ability to render fruit skins, seeds and fibrous plant stalks as smooth as silk makes it a high-value appliance for healthy diets. The cost of entry to this powerful machine can be greatly reduced by purchasing a Factory Certified Reconditioned Vitamix blender, direct from the Vitamix online store. Once you buy it, you can expect it to last a lifetime (or two).
If I hadn’t known we purchased a refurbished blender, I would have thought that what Vitamix shipped was a brand new unit. The packaging was all factory sealed, and each piece of hardware looked as if it were brand new. I later discovered that when Vitamix ships reconditioned units, they actually send brand new bins, lids and tampers; the only part that is actually factory reconditioned is the base.
The machine’s design leans toward utilitarian, but it still looks good on the counter top. Despite its plain exterior, the Vitamix name is well known enough that it often sparks the question from guests who notice it, “Is that a Vitamix?”
The base comes in five color choices: Black, white, red, platinum and brushed stainless. All color choices are included in the standard cost except for brushed stainless, which will cost you an additional US $50.
The Vitamix 5200 is completely manual in the sense that it doesn’t have any pre-programmed settings. You are always in control of the speed. The controls are a simple array of three items; two switches and one dial. One switch for On/Off, one dial that gives precise variable command of the blade speed, and one switch for “shifting” from Variable Speed to High Speed – the fastest speed possible; which according to Vitamix is 240 MPH at the blade tips.
Vitamix offers two different sized bins for blending ‘wet’ food; 32 and 64 ounces. They also offer a 32 ounce bin with a custom blade for grinding dry grains. The 64oz bin (1/2 gallon) is plenty big; it will allow you to make enough of whatever you’re blending for the whole family or to store in the fridge for second and third helpings.
It’s so spacious and roomy that it almost beckons you to make more than you need. The only potential drawback to its giant size is that it may limit the number of places you can store it on the counter top while perched atop the motor base.
The bins are made of BPA-free, shatterproof plastic. The plastic is light, so it doesn’t add unnecessarily to the weight when you’re picking it up full of liquid or food.
The large opening at the top makes for easy cleaning. The blade is fixed within the bottom of the container so really thick ingredients like peanut butter may take a bit more effort to clean up but fruit juice and smoothies were easily sprayed and rinsed out. We had good results with simply filling the bin with warm water, running it on high for 15-20 seconds, dumping the water and rinsing it out.
The Vitamix 5200 is designed to allow you to fully control the process of breaking down the ingredients, and not just with the device controls. The tamper, one of the included accessories, gives you a way to manually push large chunks down toward the blades to help the process along. There is a narrow hole in the rubber lid designed to give the tamper just enough room to access the bin and work the food without allowing anything to splash out.
The tamper has a stop-ring around the top that prevents it from ever being pushed deep enough to actually touch the spinning blades, so never fear; you can tamp to your hearts content.
The Vitamix 5200 is designed to allow you to manually control the machine through the various phases of breaking down the food. The speed control dial allows you to keep the blades slow unit they gain traction on the chunks of food in the bin. Once the blade starts moving the contents, you can smoothly crank up the speed dial up to high. There is a ‘turbo’ switch to kick it up to super-fast mode to really break everything down and make a smooth smoothie.
Once in turbo mode, the varying colors of the different ingredients quickly morph into one single color, an average of all the ingredients in the mix. You can also watch the whatever particles remained disappear as they become part of the liquid.
The machine is loud, but not so loud that I was reluctant to use it. Our electric coffee grinder is louder.
If your Vitamix breaks from normal use within 5 years of purchase, Vitamix will repair or replace the machine (for free); or give you a full refund. They’ll also cover shipping costs if you have to send it in.
Also, you can purchase the option to extend the warranty to 10 years at any time your model is still within it’s standard seven year warranty.