Top positive review
347 of 355 people found this helpful
on October 25, 2013
I'm a little bit obsessed with blenders, and I'm a perfectionist when it comes to mechanical things, and the design of them, so when I saw this new Oster VERSA I couldn't help myself - I had to give it a "whirl" :)
Let me cut to the chase, it's a very good design, and well executed, and a good value in today's market. I do have one small quibble, which I note below, and for that reason I am only giving it three stars for now. (revised to five stars, see below)
For my first test of the VERSA I had peeled and cored two large apples, a thick skinned variety (Sonata from WA state) to make an apple sauce fruit compote to top banana ice cream. So I was looking at that small pile of roughage on the cutting board and thought, why not? So into the VERSA went skins, seeds, stems, and cores, with sufficient water, to see whether it could emulsify tough vegetable fiber as well as a Vitamix. (I have a Vitamix 5200, but it's not at this location, so to be fair this is not a direct comparison.) My impression was the VERSA might have taken a bit longer than a Vitamix, and maybe didn't do quite as good a job, but... better than any other less expensive blender I've tried.
But who blends apple core, skin, seeds and stems for breakfast? Not me, so then I decided to give it a real world test. For that I made a nut/seed "milk" using 2 teaspoons of flax seeds, and 1 teaspoon each of chia seeds, sunflower seeds, goji berries, quinoa, almonds, and pumpkin seeds, all in raw state (harder to emulsify, but arguably more nutritious). Raw flax seeds are the toughest to emulsify in a blender, most will leave them in some kind of partially whole state, and you might as well not bothered adding them.
I mixed on low for a few seconds, and let soak for a few minutes before blending, which is what I would normally do making a seed nut milk base for certain smoothie recipes. I'm happy to say it passed this test with flying colors, again, not in direct comparison, but I would say the result was as good as I would expect from a Vitamix.
Bottom line is I'm keeping the VERSA for use in my second location. I do have one small quibble however, when I first tested the tamper with just water in the blender I noticed it was (just barely) long enough to reach the top two blades. At first I thought I must be doing something wrong, because the tamper should not be long enough to reach the blades(!), and how could Oster's engineers have got wrong something so obvious? Well I don't know the answer to that, but I double checked what I'm doing and as far as I can tell, yep, the tamper is just a wee bit too long, resulting in little black plastic flakes in the blender carafe! I'm sure if it is a production glitch it will be ironed out quickly, my machine came from a big box store and was likely from the first production run. I called Oster customer service who suggested I return it to where I bought it with an explanation, and order another directly from their own warehouse, which I did. For the time being I will give it 3 stars, until I figure out if it's something I did, or just an early production glitch. I'll update this review when I know more.
Meanwhile, bottom line, this really is an excellent blender at a very competitive price. It's good looking too, IMHO. The Versa might even cut into Vitamix sales a bit, it would not surprise me one bit.
Update - I received the replacement yesterday and it's all good news, the tamper issue is fixed. The problem in my first sample came down to the lid - it allowed the tamper to reach down further into the carafe, and reach the blades. On the new lid the part that stops the tamper from going down further is just a teeny bit higher. I'm going to assume this was a one off problem, or worst case, an early production glitch that won't affect anyone buying a unit now or going forward. Anyway the tamper issue is almost a non issue for me because I use the tamper so infrequently anyway.
Impressions after using everyday for a week - it's all good news, I like it more after using it. Let me compare it a little further to the Vitamix, the best blender I've used. Yes, I feel VM is the better blender on an absolute basis, but the Versa is a better value for most people. The reason is even the least expensive VitaMix is basically a commercial grade machine, over specd and overbuilt in every way. For example, the VitaMix carafe has much thicker walls than the Versa, it's effectively impossible to break, whereas it looks like the Versa carafe might crack if you dropped it on a tile floor and it hit on the wrong angle. Another example, the VitaMix motor base is considerably heavier than the Versa's, and seems to me has considerably more power on tap also. That might be the reason the Versa motor is protected with a soft start circuit - it ramps up to full power over a second or two. The VM can go from dead stop to full power at the flick of a switch, and it has the torque to do that pretty much no matter what you have in the carafe.
These are features that cost more, but don't add anything to daily use for most people. The Versa, to it's credit, has borrowed many of the better design ideas from VM, but it's not a clone, there are some intelligent trade-offs that make it a more cost effective design for average users. If the VitaMix were near the same cost as the Versa, sure I'd get the VM every time. But it isn't - enter the Versa - it's THE blender choice for folks who would choose a VitaMix other things equal, but were stopped by price.