NutriBullet Pro 900 Series review: Set your sights away from the NutriBullet

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.9
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Usability: 7.0
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 6.0
Review Date:

The Good The NutriBullet makes blending quality smoothies a breeze, and it even has enough power to do some multitasking.

The Bad Its build and plastic pieces hold it back from being a true multitasker, and the cheaper Nutri Ninja makes slightly better smoothies.

The Bottom Line Beneath all the health hype, you'll find a competent blender that gets caught in the middle between the best single-serve smoothie makers and the best full-size multitaskers.

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I have trouble trusting products with marketing campaigns that are aggressive and largely unrelated to what the product actually does. NutriBullet is one such product. It's a blender, yet the advertisements and hype would have you believe it's the single most important component to turning your health around. They've cleverly focused on a single health benefit that any average blender can offer -- breaking down seeds and stems from nutritious foods to more effectively mix the pulp into your smoothie -- and hyped it to the extent that, in my opinion, purchasing one is akin to being scammed by a telemarketer.

The NutriBullet 900 series held its own against the comparable Nutri Ninja, even besting it in a few stress test categories. It also comes with more accessories, though at its $130 price point, you're paying an extra $40 above the Nutri Ninja that offers the same 900 watts of power. The NutriBullet proves the best multitasker among the single-serving-focused blenders we've tested, but only just so. It's also worth noting that Consumer Reports found that the blades of the 900 series break when put under stress. We couldn't replicate that result on our test unit, but even aside from that potential safety concern, I'd still recommend the Nutri Ninja or the $40 Hamilton Beach Stay or Go blenders for their superior value and comparable results.

Design and features

The original $90 NutriBullet came with 12 pieces and a 600-watt motor. We tested the upgraded version, the $130 NutriBullet Pro 900 Series with 15 pieces. Both models are widely available here in the States. Shop for either on NutriBullet's website, or Target, Walmart, Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, and other major retailers of small appliances. The original NutriBullet is also available in the UK for £100, and the upgraded model for £150 from Amazon.co.uk. While not currently available in Australia, the upgraded model is available for preorder from some online retailers for about AU$280.

The 15 pieces you get with the 900 series include a 32-ounce cup, two 24-ounce cups, and an 18-ounce cup, as well as two blade attachments and various lids for taking your smoothie on the road. You lose the large cup and one of the medium cups with the original NutriBullet, in addition to a slight variance in lid selection.

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All the pieces fit together well. Colin West McDonald/CNET

The mouths of all of the jars have the same circumference, so you can screw any lid onto any jar. They fit well, as do the blades. It took me less than five minutes to get the NutriBullet up and running. Similar to the Nutri Ninja, the blades serve as a lid to the containers. Screw them to the top once you put in your ingredients, flip the whole thing over, and put it on the base. Then, you can push down to pulse or push down and turn it clockwise to lock it in the "on" position.

I liked the ability to leave the NutriBullet blending continuously. It's one small advantage it has over the Nutri Ninja, which you have to hold down for as long as you want it to run. The other advantage is the larger jar. Thirty-two ounces allowed more cycling of tightly packed ingredients than the largest 24-ounce container of the Nutri Ninja. The extra lids and pieces were nice, too, but they come with the trade-off of taking up that much more storage space.

Other than those small differences, the designs of the NutriBullet and Nutri Ninja are extremely similar. Both make cleaning simple, and both suffer from a few quirks because of the unique focus on blending in travel-ready containers. When working with thick ingredients, you won't be able to scrape the sides to help get everything mixed together without flipping it over to unscrew the lid, then reassembling everything once you're ready to blend again.

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You'll flip the jar between prep and blending, and that can prove inconvenient. Colin West McDonald/CNET

The NutriBullet also lacks speed choices. Without any buttons, your options are limited to on or off. This keeps everything looking sleek and simple, but slower speeds help bigger machines grab ingredients on the first pass. Both the NutriBullet and the Nutri Ninja had trouble with pesto because of this missing feature. When preparing foods, you'll also want to put the biggest pieces on top. It's counterintuitive, but because you're flipping the container 180 degrees between prepping to blending, the bulk will hit the blades first once you've upended it into position.

Outside of the physical pieces, the NutriBullet packs in plenty of colorful pamphlets extolling the virtues of healthy eating and convincing you that your new purchase will change your life for the better. The hardcover booklet even carries the title "Life-Changing Recipes." The separate instruction manual goes on for pages about the blight of heart disease in America before emphasizing how much extra work we give our stomachs when we fail to chew properly.

In tiny print following all of this comes the message that you need to consult your physician for any actual healthcare info. The instructions on how to use the machine are kept to a minimum before it dives right back into proper recipes to craft one of the maker's "NutriBlasts." This is a smoothie made up of greens and berries that you can craft with a variety of options from the helpful chart that's included. It's the cornerstone of the included diet plan and the drink given to the smiling participants of the NutriBullet infomercial. I made a NutriBlast for myself with ingredients we had around the office. The results, in terms of taste, were not what I would call successful.

The much touted "Nutrient Extraction Process" boils down to its ability to break down seeds and stems and mix them into your drink so you don't miss out on the extra nutrients offered by the pulp of your ingredients. It's a fair claim that the pulp contains lots of healthy ingredients, but most modern blenders are quite good at pulverizing it. The NutriBullet hasn't found some special or secret process.

Thus, the blender itself suffers from a few issues in design, but nothing that adds up to more than an annoyance. Its features leave it short of qualifying as an all-purpose machine, but they give you lots of options for easy blending on the run. However, the aggressive bombardment of promises and scare tactics from the ads doesn't stop once you own the NutriBullet. The recipes found in the booklets will prove helpful for some, and the NutriBullet can indeed help you lose weight and get healthy, but only as a part of the standard diet and exercise.

Usability

Fortunately, the turnaround time from making a smoothie to cleaning up to being ready to make your next drink is as quick as it gets. You can clean most pieces other than the blades and base in the dishwasher. Alternatively, you can fill up the jar with warm water and a little soap and turn on the blender. The fact that you can't wash the blades in the dishwasher relates to the fact that you can't use this blender on hot liquids. Either might cause its plastic base to melt, pointing to slightly less sturdy materials than some more expensive machines.

The instruction manual also advises against running the blender for more than a minute at a time. Packing that much power into such a small frame apparently comes at the cost of heat buildup. We didn't notice any problems during testing, and we did push the NutriBullet past the recommended limits from time to time, but only just so. Again, this points to the manufacturer's concern that the product might not hold up under stress, and limits its potential to multitask with peace of mind.

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You'll need to help the heat dissipate by taking breaks while blending. Colin West McDonald/CNET

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