Since it costs $350, I expected a lot from the Electrolux Masterpiece Blender. It's not quite as pricey as the $530 Vitamix 7500 or the $450 Blendtec Wildside, but both of those back up their high end price with awesome performance. This Masterpiece Blender has the power to hold its own on the premium end with 1,200 watts. It has a sizable 74-ounce jar. It even sports an interesting design that looks great and supposedly lends itself to smoother blends.
It simply missed on too many tests for me to recommend it at its $350 price. It never missed badly. The Masterpiece Blender reached the finish line on all of our challenges, but it regularly left small chunks of unblended strawberry in our smoothies, and unmixed Parmesan along with pieces of walnut in the pesto. It made almond butter from whole almonds, but needed a long time and lots of help to do so. The Electrolux Masterpiece Blender is a fine machine, but for $350, it needs to be more than that.
Smooth operator -- testing the basics
You can purchase the $350 Electrolux Masterpiece Blender now from the company's site. It's not yet available in the UK, but Electrolux plans to begin selling it there in June. The US price converts to approximately £240. The Masterpiece Blender is available in Australia now for AU$430, also from the company's site.
The bottom of the Electrolux Masterpiece Blender's 74-ounce blending jar is tilted. That's intentional. The PowerTilt Technology is the top feature listed on Electrolux's site for this machine. The site describes it as "a powerful new angle" that "intensifies taste by changing the way ingredients are blended -- making it simple to create the smoothest, most velvety textures."
As nonsensical as it is to suggest an angle, in and of itself, is powerful, I had reason enough to believe that the tilt might actually make a positive difference when blending smoothies. One of CNET's technical editors, Steve Conaway, tilts every blender he uses when mixing a drink to help the blades reach ingredients closer to the top of the container.
On top of that, the blender's six titanium-coated, copper-colored blades look well positioned to scoop the bottom and reach all the way to the sides. The blender also has a smoothie preset, in addition to ice crush, drink, and soup presets that go beyond simple speed settings. Similar to the Auto-IQ on the Nutri Ninja system, pressing the button runs a program of various speeds over the course of a minute or so.
All told, I had plenty of reasons to expect, when I starting using the Electrolux Masterpiece Blender to make smoothies, that I'd get great results. But out of three batches, only one was perfect. We mix strawberries and OJ together for the sake of simplicity and repeatability on this test, and on two of the runs, I found a few chunks of strawberry leftover, even after using the machine's smoothie preset.
Both mixtures were drinkable, just not up to the level of its high end competition. Most premium blenders, and even some cheaper Hamilton Beach models, produce better smoothies in 15 pulses or less.
The PowerTilt feature looks cool in action -- at different speeds the center of the vortex forms in slightly different places in the jar, so the mixture does look like it's tilting. But the blades themselves don't actively tilt or change direction, neither does the jar, and the feature didn't produce the consistent results I was hoping for.
The ice test results were similar -- competent but underwhelming. No blender we've tested has ever failed the smoothie test. Plenty fall short when trying to blend 2 cups of ice without any water to help. The Electrolux passed easily. After the 50-second ice preset, the two cups of cubes were almost entirely made into snow. Again, though, on all three runs of the ice test, I found a couple of stray clumps, keeping the Masterpiece Blender agonizingly short of perfection.
Upping the ante -- pancake batter, whipped cream and cheese
Pancake batter illustrated why the blender fell short on the basics. That's why we run the test -- clumps of batter tend to stick in places where proper flow fails. I noticed a minor buildup on the ridge that protrudes into the jar near its handle, and batter stuck in the bottom corners. The ridge in particular might have been the culprit that trapped small pieces of strawberry or ice next to it and wouldn't let them cycle to the blades.