Editors' note, September 21, 2014: We received the following statement from Blendtec in response to this review:
"We have investigated CNET's problem with the damaged gasket and determined that this was in fact not an issue with the blender itself, but with the seal on the jar. We are continuing the investigation of this issue, and we are in the process of reaching out to all registered Designer 725 owners to address any potential concerns. Meanwhile, we encourage consumers to read the entirety of the CNET review. With the exception of this jar malfunction, the blender shined. We are confident the issue will be resolved shortly, and the Designer 725 will be recognized as the standard in high-performance blenders. We also encourage any Blendtec customers that believe their product may be experiencing similar issues to call 1-800-Blendtec with any product concerns or questions."
In the quest for ultra-high-power blending, two names sit above the rest: Vitamix and Blendtec. Last year, we reviewed thealongside the , and the two essentially finished dead even with each other.
This year, Blendtec upped the ante with its new $650 Designer 725. Though it looks almost identical to previous models, the 725 features even more power than before, along with refined touch controls and new presets. After Vitamix impressed me last year, I was excited to test the 725 out and see if Blendtec had truly pulled into the lead.
Unfortunately, the Blendtec 725 proved too powerful for its own good. Before we could complete our tests, it had shredded the rubber gasket at the base of the jar, rendering the thing unusable. Repeated tests with additional units produced the same damning result, with shredded rubber even ending up mixed in with our ingredients. That's an unacceptable design flaw, and a complete deal breaker for anyone looking to spend big on blending.
Features and usability
First things first: this is a ridiculously powerful appliance. With a 1,725-watt, 3.4-peak-horsepower motor, the Blendtec 725 is built for serious blending performance. For comparison, the Vitamix 7500 boasts a 1,440-watt motor, while the Blendtec Designer Series Wildside Blender from last year claims 1,560 watts.
Blendtec puts that power at your your fingertips with a well-designed touchscreen interface. I wasn't wowed by the touchscreen on last year's model, but the Blendtec 725's refinements left me impressed. You'll find presets for everything from soups to smoothies to salsas, along with with a 100-speed manual slider that lets you rev the thing up exactly as you please. All of it felt intuitive and easy to use, and it looked good, too.
The base of the blender is built from brushed stainless steel, which gives it a little bit of extra heft. This is a good thing -- with all of that power revving around, you want the Blendtec to stay put on your countertop as you use it. For the most part, the 725's bulk kept it in place.
Another design upgrade: the Blendtec 725 has personality built into it. Turn the thing on, and it'll tell you hello, or one of dozens of other preprogrammed messages. The same goes whenever you finish a blend, or when you turn the machine off. It'll walk you through the presets, offer recipe suggestions, and keep track of how many times you've used it, congratulating you whenever you reach a new milestone. Complete enough blends, and it'll even offer a URL that you can follow to claim a free recipe book, gift card, jar discount, or some other reward. As blenders go, it's a charming little sidekick.
The Blendtec Designer 725 comes with the same, 36-oz. "WildSide+ Jar" as the model we reviewed last year, and offers a cleaning cycle as one of its presets. Fill the thing with a few cups of water and add a few drops of soap, and you'll be ready to rinse it out at the touch of a button. When I tested it out, it worked just fine -- though for messier blends, I'd often need to follow the cycle with a quick wipe to get out a few final bits of food, then run it again.
When a blender boasts a 1,725-watt, 3.4-horsepower motor, you're going to expect it to rise to the occasion no matter what you're throwing into it. For years, Blendtec has built much of its marketing around this very expectation, with the popular " Will it Blend?" series of videos showing off the product's propensity for doing things like reducing like reducing an iPhone into glittery dust.
Blendtec is always careful to advise users not to try stuff like that at home, and we heeded that advice, keeping our smartphones stashed away and sticking instead with the usual roundup of ice, whipped cream, pancake batter, pesto, and almond butter.
Up first, ice. Some low-power blenders will actually struggle to break ice down into snow if you aren't sure to add water into the mix, too. Not the Blendtec 725. Within seconds, I was fully equipped to throw a snowball at one of my colleagues on a 70-degree day. Instead, I kept things pacifistic and added some cold coffee and chocolate syrup, whipping up a tasty, photogenic mocha frappe in no time flat (testing blenders for a living does come with its benefits).
Next up was the smoothie test, and again, the Blendtec made it look easy, blending orange juice and frozen strawberries into an exceptionally smooth, bright pink concoction well before the 40-second smoothie preset cycle was finished. I weighed the results, poured it through a colander to try and catch any unblended bits, then weighed it again. The result was exactly the same, meaning that my smoothie was, in essence, 100 percent smooth.
Homemade whipped cream was next on the list, blended from heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. It came out light, fluffy, and evenly blended within seconds (it also tasted incredible on top of my mocha frappe). Pancake batter, another of the lighter tests, came out evenly blended as well, with only a minimal amount of powdery globs stuck beneath the blades.