I have a Kitchen Aid already. I got this because we had one when I was a kid and this was kind of nostalgic. There has been no significant change in the design of the Sunbeam since I was a kid, at least as far as I can remember. I don't remember the head locking either up or down, but maybe it did, I don't know. More on that later... I think you are already familiar with the mechanics of how the Kitchen Aid mixes things (the planetary motion) vs how the Sunbeam mixes things (a hand mixer on a stand) so I won't go into detail on that, other than to express my preferences between the two.
Round 1: overall mixing ability
Today I was trying to make banana bread. First I have to cream some butter with eggs and sugar. After this was complete, I threw in some bananas and had the mixer mash them up. It appears that when you have semi-solid things (like butter or bananas) that you are trying to incorporate into a batter, the free-spinning bowl tends to spin the item right up to the beater, but then at first it doesn't want to go any further. After doing a little convincing, the beaters just buzz right through it and the bowl spins around until it reaches the obstacle again. This time there is less resistance and better mixing. On the 3rd go around, it's even better, and so on. I've made this same recipe dozens of times on the Kitchen Aid and this process goes a little faster and with less intervention. Don't get me wrong--the Sunbeam does just fine with this sort of task, it's just that the Kitchen Aid does it better. I'm going to say that Kitchen Aid is the clear winner here.
WINNER: Kitchen Aid.
Round 2: bowl scraping
Both mixers are very good at getting right up next to the edge of the bowl so that minimal bowl scraping is required, however neither is perfect and both will need a scrape or two during your food prep (NOTE: for either model, the paddles should not actually touch the bowl. If they are, you need to make an adjustment). You cannot scrape the Kitchen Aid bowel while it is running (well, at least not without a very high risk of damaging your mixer, the spoon and/or your hand). The Sunbeam, however, allows you to not only easily scrape the bowl while it is on, but it will even spin the bowl for you so you can just stick a rubber spatula in and hold it in place and the mixer will (sometimes) do the rest for you. I was even able to hold the spatula up to the beaters and thus wipe the spatula clean while it was on. NOTE: the very center of the bowl may sometimes appear to need a good scraping during mixing, but if you just adjust the bowl position using the bowl size lever, it will take care of it for you. It's manual, but easy. This is only sometimes necessary and I suspect if I ignored the problem, the mixer would eventually get everything in the middle, anyway.
Round 3: power
I'm afraid I haven't exercised to its full ability yet, but trying to run bread dough through 2 hooks feels a little awkward. I have made bread in this (and it came out great) but it sure sounded like it was struggling. On the other hand, the Kitchen Aid boasts a lot of power... HOWEVER, it has an intentionally engineered weak point--a gear that will break if it sees too much of a load. I've had to replace this gear twice on my Kitchen Aid. It costs about $100 to have a pro replace the gear for you, or if you are not too timid to open up the device and get grease all over, you can do it yourself for about $10-$20. Let's just say I'm not terribly impressed with the whole "power" aspect of Kitchen Aid's offering.
Round 4: ease of use
* Both are very easy to use, although if you have ever tried to add ingredients to a Kitchen Aid while it is on, you know that you need some sort of device to assist, or you will make quite a mess. That isn't a problem with the Sunbeam--there's plenty of room on one side of the bowl to add whatever you need.
* On the other hand, the head-locking mechanism on the Sunbeam is a little awkward. One of my Kitchen Aids is a tilt head (like the Sunbeam) and the other is a bowl lift mechanism. The tilting Kitchen Aid's head is much easier to deal with than the Sunbeam because it locks down with a simple lever and then there is no need to lock at the top. The Sunbeam, by contrast, has a button you have to press to lift and then press again to lower and it's awkward to press in either case. I much prefer the Kitchen Aid's approach here.
* The Kitchen Aid has a handle on the bowl that makes it MUCH easier to hold while scraping. The Sunbeam cannot have a handle since the bowl spins.
* Some of the Kitchen Aid models come with implements that are not dishwasher safe (My Artisan series implements are all dishwasher safe, but my pro-series model made it very clear that I should not be putting it in the dishwasher--if I wanted to wash in the dishwasher, I should buy the coated version. That was a turn off!). All of the Sunbeam's implements ARE dishwasher safe (no extra purchases required).
I think that adding ingredients during mixing and easy clean up are of greater importance than holding the bowl or putting it in place, so I'll say the Sunbeam wins, but only by a little.
Round 5: versatility
The Kitchen Aid has the ability to use dozens of attachments. The Sunbeam just mixes. I only use my Kitchen Aid for mixing, so it's a draw for me, but if I wanted to do more, I could, but only with the Kitchen Aid
WINNER: Kitchen Aid
Round 6: aesthetics, overall impression
This has a lot more to do with personal preference than the other categories, but here's what I'm considering...
a) Volume/loudness. Neither mixer is terribly loud. The Sunbeam may be slightly quieter... maybe?
b) Size/Weight. The Sunbeam is lighter than it looks. My wife hates hefting the Kitchen Aid around, so for her, this is a win for the Sunbeam. For others, the weight gives an impression of quality, so it's a win for the Kitchen Aid. Once again, this is preference. Both take up comparable amounts of space.
So that's 2 wins for Kitchen Aid, 2 wins for Sunbeam, and 2 draws. To me, the most important category is "Round 1: overall mixing ability" and Kitchen Aid wins that one, so if I had to choose between a Kitchen Aid and a Sunbeam and all other factors (such as price) were the same, I'd go with the Kitchen Aid every time. HOWEVER, the fact of the matter is that the Kitchen Aid is roughly 2x-3x the price of the Sunbeam and if I had to live the rest of my life with just the Sunbeam, I could be perfectly happy. If cost is an issue for you, and if you don't want to use any fancy attachments, I'd recommend the Sunbeam. If you have money to throw around, the Kitchen Aid may be a better appliance. Either one will serve you well.
on October 16, 2012
I grew up with a Sunbeam and have always liked them. When I got married, I "upgraded" to a Kitchen Aid, which I despised. It was so cute, but it left a 1" thick layer of dough/batter etc. around the entire edge of the bowl that the one beater wouldn't pull in. You also couldn't scrape the sides while the beater was going because of the bowl being so tall and narrow, so in order to get to that ring of unmixed stuff, you had to stop the mixer, pull up the head, push the dough down to the center, and turn it back on. Four rotations later, it was pushed back to the edge of the bowl, again unreachable by the beater. I DO NOT recommend a Kitchen-Aid to anyone who actually wishes to mix anything!! I'm an avid baker and use my mixer a lot, so I cannot believe Kitchen Aids are so popular! The one thing it's supposed to do--mix your ingredients well--it couldn't do. I couldn't wait to sell mine and get something else.
Once I finally got rid of my Kitchen Aid, I wanted something attractive, powerful, and that would get ALL the mix off the sides of the bowl. I discarded any one-beater mixers because of my bad experience with Kitchen Aids. First I tried the Brylane Home 2-beater mixer. WAY too loud and powerful with no low speeds, only high, higher, and hurricane. So I finally crossed my fingers and ordered the Sunbeam (new and improved from my old 80's version) and hoped that the few negative reviews wouldn't make me regret it.
I'm happy to say, I like it a lot! It is a great mixer. It has all the power I need for even thick cookie doughs, and it whips cream very fast. I like that you can adjust the bowl to be in the center or the edge (I mostly keep it at the edge), and that the beaters start up slowly to keep splash to a minimum. This model doesn't have a self-propelling motor, and I'm glad! I like to move my bowl back and forward as it turns, which really helps mix that little spot in the center that seems to avoid the beaters if you just let the bowl turn by itself. Once you push the bowl the opposite way, all that missed stuff in the middle is quickly incorporated. Plus, this mixer gets everything on the sides down to about the last 1/8" of stuff. And you can easily scrape the sides as you mix with the beaters set to the side of the bowl, so you don't have to stop the mixer to scrape.
My one BIG disapopintment about this mixer is how poorly it does at making bread. My recipes call for leaving the mixer to knead the dough for 5-7 minutes. HA HA! This mixer just doesn't have the weight or strength to mix the dough unattended. It jumps all over the counter and would be on the floor in 30 seconds if I didn't forceably hold it down! This would have been enough for me to return this mixer if I had discovered how bad it was at bread in time, but I was on a low carb diet for the first 2 months after I got it and missed the return window. :(
That being said, I still like this mixer a lot. I don't make bread as much as I used to (those dang carbs!), and for everything else it is wonderful--frosting, cookies, cake batter, whipped cream, etc.--they all mix up beautifully. But if you are a big bread maker, this is NOT the mixer for you. You'll get a good arm workout holding your mixer down, but you cannot leave it unattended while it kneads.
p.s. It is also a big disappointment so me, Sunbeam, that the mixer doesn't come with a small bowl! I couldn't even find one to buy. My old Sunbeam came with the smaller bowl, which is so handy for making a cake and then making frosting without having to rewash the big bowl, or for whipping a small amount of whipped cream, or making a half-batch of cookie dough. Shame on you for cheaping out on that smaller bowl!
* 10/17/12: Edited to add: Sunbeam does now make the smaller bowl! You have to buy it separately, but it's only $20 on Amazon. I think at this mixer's price point, it should be included, but at least there is the option to buy it now. Thanks to those who linked me to the bowl!*
on September 11, 2011
It is fairly light weight for it's size. It is very durable, so it not going to fall apart after the first use. I had it all the way up to the highest speed and it was not any louder than my hand held mixer. The bowl is easily set into place and removed, along with the blades. While mixing, the bowl spins, so there is no real need for you to spin the bowl so the mixer gets to everything. Also, it is easy to slide the switch that moves the bowl so the blades can be in the center or along the side. In each position, the bowl with spin slowly, yet it is easy for you to spin bowl if you want it to spin a little faster, and can switch the position of bowl while mixing as well. There is a button along the side to lift the blades out of the mix, as well as an eject (marked) button to remove the blades from the mixer. It does come with a nice size bowl, I might enjoy a smaller bowl at some point but the one that comes with the mixer is nice for cake mix or bread dough. For what I do, I wouldn't want anything larger. I am looking forward to the holidays to have a reason to use it, and maybe try it out on making mashed potatoes from scratch.
I have recently bought the smaller bowl for this and it is the perfect size for me. Small stainless steel bowl for Sunbeam Heritage mixers.The bowl that came with the mixer is the biggest I would use, especially for home use. The smaller bowl is perfect for smaller projects. My husband is in the army, so when he is deployed it is just me and my daughter, so most of the stuff that I would use the mixer would be for small amounts.
on October 25, 2011
I have an older version of the Heritage series Sunbeam mixer. It was the perfect purchase for me at the time I bought it 4 years ago. I was newly married, and wasn't quite sure how often I would use a stand mixer. If you are debating like I was if you should make the leap to Kitchenaid, think about your needs first. I used this mixer a few times a year at first for cookie dough, and it did great. The last year or so I've really tried to up the ante on my cooking/baking skills, and debated for awhile if I should upgrade. I've read lots of reviews and it sounds like a lot of people were in my position for trying to decide if the leap to a more expensive mixer would be worth it. I also tried making some dough for pretzel bites, and I decided it was time for me to upgrade after that. The mixer didn't sound well, like it was really struggling. It struggled to mix the dough and the bowl had a hard time spinning. I used it afterwards to make some cookie dough and it worked fine, so I think it might just struggle with thicker dough.
Bottom line - if you are an occasional baker or are just looking to make mixing things like cookie dough a lot easier, this will be perfect for you and your culinary adventures! I enjoyed it the four years I had it, and am only now ready for the next step. I decided to upgrade to an Artisan series Kitchenaid because I think I will be calling on my mixer more often for heavier dough, and for other tasks so I like the versatility of the Kitchenaid attachments.
on February 19, 2015
First stand mixer I have ever owned. I love baking. I always wanted a stand mixer, but didn't want to put a huge amount of money into one. After reading reviews on different brands, this one seemed like the best buy for the price. Love the warranty, and I absolutely adore the green color. I made the cake with the first use. Will be making brioche tomorrow, so we will see how it does on my bread dough. Love how heavy the beaters and dough hooks were as well!
If you're dying for a Kitchen Aid mixer and think this will quell that desire, I doubt that you'll be satisfied with the Sunbeam FPSBSM2104 Heritage Series 350-Watt Stand Mixer in any color. On the other hand, if you need a basic mixer which is lightweight, nice looking, reliable for basic baking, then you likely will love this mixer! I can't vouch for other colors because I'm only familiar with the model I received, but the red is gorgeous, a blue red rather than an orange red, a lovely contrast to the stainless steel bowl and black contrasting handle, base and knobs. Right out of the box, it was easy to operate even without glancing at the little manual which was loose in the bottom of the package. You'll notice immediately that both pairs of included beaters/hooks are unmatched, each has a plastic grey or green piece near the top. The green goes into the slot which has a green dot, and the grey goes into the other. This theoretically allows for the automatic movement of the bowl. If you remove the mixer from the box, raise the head, insert the beaters, put the head down and proceed to mix together your cookie dough as I did, you'll find that the bowl does not advance without you manually moving it along, and you'll wonder how in the world your butter and sugar will ever be incorporated. It only took a minute before I realized that the appliance is shipped with the bowl positioned for a small bowl which is not included, and you'll need to move the lever at the bottom left edge closer to your body and position the base into the correct location for the large bowl which is included. Then and only then will the bowl advance on its own. This mixer is not as large as a Kitchen Aid and it is not as loud either, but it does use a 350 Watt motor, so it will work more than a cake mix batter. I haven't used it for bread dough yet, but feel that for a single loaf, it will be fine as long as I'm not using too many grains. Being able to tilt up the head and remove it after use is a nice feature. The beaters/hooks are easy to pop in and remove, the bowl is rather flat bottomed with a rolled upper edge that can gather batter, so this requires attention when cleaning. The speed control is smaller than other Mixmaster controls, for me it's an advantage and easy to turn. Because there's a slight lag from the time the control is turned until the motor starts took a while to process in my head, but once I got it, I expected the momentary delay and it was not a surprise. This stand mixer is priced higher than other Sunbeam mixers, but I believe it's a better product which can offer more variety in mixing than the lower priced mixers, even if they also utilize a 350 Watt motor. It's a good mixer which will hopefully offer us many years of use.
on August 24, 2012
I purchased this so that I could make bread more easily. I've been using a pastry blender (manual) to mix some of the dough before making it by hand. I thought it would be easier to get a stand mixer for those larger projects that require a stiff dough such as wheat bread.
I paid considerably less for this through Amazon (new and in packaging for $65!) and I figure that would be worth the price. I was right. This isn't the most perfect machine but it works fairly well.
Noise - it is MUCH more quiet than a hand mixer. I saw some people complain about the noise or about the pieces clanging up against the bowl but that is not at all the case with mine.
I did take the advice of another reviewer and change the bowl setting to make sure it was set to the large bowl setting before starting. If you find that this is a problem, check that setting.
I give the noise factor an A+
Power - this product definitely holds its weight in this department, although with a stiff dough, the bowl can shake a little, as can the whole mixer. I wish it had giant suction cups like my large food processor but the ease of use made it okay.
Power grade - B
Mixing ability - I did have to mix a dough of french bread for a bit longer than I anticipated (about 15 minutes of mixing/kneading, but it's 6 cups of flour) and it did not get all of the flour/dough from the middle/bottom of the bowl incorporated into the large portion of the dough. I took the majority of the dough out of the mixing bowl and was able to pick up the remaining flour/dough from the bottom of the bowl. I had to knead those two by hand to incorporate it and then put it back into the mixer for it to knead together. It was still far easier than mixing by hand and probably took about a quarter of the time. Since the dough was only really in two pieces, it was not THAT big of a deal but I was a little disappointed. I'd give it a B-
Maybe it would do better with a smaller amount of dough or a different recipe. This one was pretty stiff and a lot more flour than I've ever had to use before. I have been unable to incorporate full amounts of flour in any recipe by hand and this definitely did the trick, minus the small snafu.
Off-set bowl - I like this feature very much. I was able to easily put in more flour and other ingredients with ease. The only down side is that when you add ANYTHING to a spinning mixer, there is going to be some splatter. The steep sides of the bowl help reduce this but I would recommend a bowl guard for anyone who wants to do this regularly or with large projects.
I'm giving the off-set bowl an A, since it's normal splatter (or less than most mixers) and an extremely easy feature.
For the person who said that the tilt button and eject button were not convenient, I am not sure what the issue there is. The buttons are easily marked and function well. It would be nice if the tilt adjustment was on the top of the mixer but that's pretty minor. Since the mixer should be OFF when you tilt or change attachments, the placement of the button isn't that big of a deal - and it stays in place when tilted.
Overall, I give it a B. It does what it says it will, with some minor imperfections, but for the price (far cheaper than a kitchen aid) it is well worth it.
on January 7, 2013
I purchased this Sunbeam mainly for mixing bread dough after my old pro KA (Hobart) gave out. I'm thrilled with the Sunbeam's power and performance so far, not to mention the drastic savings over KA and others' price points. That I did not order it sooner is my only regret.
It kneads dough quickly and easily without a hint of strain and with much less need for scraping than with the KA (and with a lot more room to do so when needed). Adding ingredients is also easier with its off-center bowl option. Being able to actually control the bowl by rotating it either direction or moving it sideways while it's mixing equates, to me, to better control of the dough and a lot less scraping. I haven't had any issue with dough crawling up the hooks. When mixing bread dough I skip the beaters and use the hooks from the start. The hooks do a fine job of mixing it with a little scraper help if needed initially.
After reading some reviews that stated it strains to mix or knead dough, I have to wonder if some have mistaken the machine's mixing method for "straining". There's been no straining whatsoever with my machine -- while mixing or kneading the bowl will pause or stop (which does not mean the machine is straining) while the beaters continue moving and then the bowl will begin moving again as it grabs another foothold. It's the machine's mixing style. After a few uses and getting used to a different method I actually have come to prefer this method of mixing over my KA's -- for me, easily adjusting the bowl position left or right with the lever beats babysitting a fixed bowl with a scraper.
2 dots placed about 4" apart on the base of the mixer indicate the range that the tab moves so that the bowl can be adjusted left or right. These 2 dots on the base were not mentioned in the instructions, so, at first, even though I thought I had adjusted the bowl edge to get as close to the beater as it could get, I actually hadn't -- instead of even noticing the lever slot, no less the dots, I had incorrectly used a painted stripe near the base as the adjustment range indicator. Yep, haha on me, operator error for sure, but the dots could be mentioned in the instructions.
The mixer fits under my upper cabinets even with the head lifted, and it stays in place on my marble counters during mixing and kneading. It doesn't walk or slide around. The bowl wobbles slightly when mixing some things. Adjusting the bowl position takes care of any major bowl wobble, although I do still get a slight bowl wobble (which has greatly decreased as I've gotten used to the mixer). No wobble at all would be fantastic but I can live with it at this price. It wobbles more when mixing a (heavy) small amount in the big bowl, and maybe the smaller bowl would remedy that all together.
The pause-and-grab mixing and kneading method takes a little getting used to as a (previous) strictly-KA-only family, but now I wish I would have purchased this sooner instead of holding out for another KA. Doing so has been my baking loss, for sure. Time will tell how it holds up, but for the price I figure I could replace it a few times and still be ahead dollar-wise. I really like the handle and the lighter weight, and the machine looks like it costs a lot more than it does. This one's easier to clean than my KA and the beaters eject smoothly and gently. Love the slow-mo start, and this mixer is incredibly quiet.
on November 29, 2012
Last night when I used the mixer for the first time, I left in a hurry and left the chrome bread dough beaters soaking in the mixing bowl overnight. Today when I went back to wash it, there were rust streaks in the bowl from where the beaters had corroded. There are multiple corrosion holes on both beaters which are rusted already. It is a health hazard which could easily leave heavy metals in the bread dough or cake batter of someone who always washes them off quickly and doesn't notice that they have little spots on them. If I had known the beaters were chrome I never would have bought the mixer. But they look like stainless steel and I didn't read the manual before using it. I can't imagine putting them in the dishwasher as the instructions say you can do. Surely that would make them corrode even quicker.
I have always been using KitchenAid stand mixers and to be honest the idea of getting a Sunbeam never crossed my mind. That is, until one day when it shows up on my Amazon Vine list. I mean, seriously, how can anything at this price point even come close to the performance of a KitchenAid that is at least double the price? It turns out I couldn't be more wrong.
I will start with the cons first since it is really short: Sunbeam cannot take a dozen different kind of attachments and so it is only good at mixing. So if you are planning to make fresh pasta or squeeze juice with one appliance only, then don't get Sunbeam.
Now to the pros. In short, Sunbeam is actually a very good mixer. Out of the box, it's literally a 12-speed mixer mounted on a stand, the oh-so-standard beaters and dough hooks, and a large 4.6 qt mixing bowl. The setup is straightforward, and I don't think I ever read the manual. I cannot comment on the longevity of the 350W motor yet, but it has been working for well over a year now, during which we've been through some relatively hard cookie dough several times. Let's just say that Sunbeam is definitely doing well in the power department.
What impressed me more, however, is the simplicity and the effectiveness of the bowl scrapping capability. Many of us know the complicated motions in a KitchenAid in which the beater does all the movement. In Sunbeam, the beater is fixed and the bowl rotates around its center. The trick is that you get to offset the bowl's center (see the picture in Amazon's description). Thus, as the bowl rotates, the beaters will be scraping the sides for you. More importantly, it opens up some space diametrically opposite of the beaters for you to insert your own spatula to get the rest (there is always some, which is true even in KitchenAid). The mechanism is so simple, and you can't make a mistake of destroying anything in the process. This compares very favorably to KitchenAid in my mind.
Overall, I am surprised that I missed the unique design offered by Sunbeam for so many years. Really, if you need a mixer and a mixer only, give Sunbeam a chance.