The Good: The $99 Instant Pot Ace blender pulverized a variety of foods during testing, including almonds, spinach pesto and smoothies. The pitcher contains a built-in heater so you can cook and blend food simultaneously, which works well for foods like soups, baby foods and dairy alternatives like rice milk. And the preset modes are useful to make commonly blended foods with the press of a button. The Bad: The blender was only adequate at crushing ice, and there are no manual controls if you want to use the heater without using a preset blending mode. The Bottom Line: The Instant Pot Ace is a useful and affordable appliance to add to your countertop. The brand Instant Pot has become synonymous with electric pressure cookers, the product that made this Canadian company an internet favorite for home cooks and food bloggers. Now, the company has dipped a toe into a new appliance category with the $99 Instant Pot Ace blender. At first glance, the Ace (which you can only get from Walmart) seems like a stretch for a company that made a name for itself with a countertop cooking appliance. But the Ace's most notable feature -- a heating element in the base of the blending pitcher -- makes this product fit in well with the company's pressure cookers. A combination blender\/cooker is suited for dishes that you need to heat and blend such as soup, baby food and dairy alternatives. That means that you can forgo using an immersion blender or transferring a dish from the stovetop to the blender to make it smooth. And you don't have to worry about whether the Ace will make your soup piping hot; I recorded temperatures of more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit inside the pitcher.The Ace is also as good at blending as it is at cooking. The blender pulverized a variety of foods including a block of cheese, almonds and spinach pesto, and did so in a short amount of time thanks to useful presets. The Ace did have trouble with some of our hardest tests, such as turning almond flour into almond butter and crushing ice evenly, something that more expensive models like the Vitamix Ascent 3500 handle with ease. However, those shortfalls don't take away from the high points of the Ace, which made some of the smoothest tomato soup I've ever had. The Ace meets a lot of needs for $99, and it performs better than other blenders at similar price points. I recommend the Ace if you're in search for a new blender, or if you're just really excited about soup season.The basics of the AceThe 60-ounce pitcher holds the important parts of the Ace: the eight stainless steel blades that chop food and the heating element at the bottom of the container. The blades are built into the pitcher, so you can't remove them. The blender also comes with a lid, a tamper to help guide food toward the blades while you blend, a cleaning brush, a straining bag and a measuring cup.The Ace's base will look familiar to anyone who already owns an Instant Pot pressure cooker. There are buttons for cold blending programs (smoothie, crushed ice, ice cream and nut\/oat milk) and hot blending programs (pur\u00e9e, soy milk, rice milk and soup). You can manually choose to blend your food on low, medium or high, and there's a pulse\/clean button to activate short bursts of blending over 48 seconds. We've seen blenders that forgo a slew of presets in favor of a more simple design, such as the Salton Harley Pasternak Power Blender, the Braun PureMix and the KitchenAid Pro Line Series. But I prefer the Ace's everything-but-the-kitchen sink approach because it really makes blending a specific dish as easy as pressing a button. The majority of the presets completed the tasks they were supposed to without needing to add more blending time. Cooking with the AceTo cook in the Ace, you put all of your ingredients into the pitcher and select from one of the four hot blending programs. The blender will then begin to heat, and a display of the temperature appears on the base of the Ace. The blender's blades pulse intermittently throughout the cooking cycle, which varies in length of time based on what program you use.