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.
on August 29, 2013
I was very close to buying a Vitamix for $500 from Costco but decided to do more research first and am very glad I found the Versa! I am mainly interested in making green smoothies but also want to make soups and ice cream.
So I got a Versa a few days ago from a local department store whose name starts with "K" (sorry Amazon - had to have it NOW).
I had to be sure this thing is as good as a Vitamix, SO: My neighbors happen to have a nice new Vitamix so I invited them over for a "blend-off". We spent a whole afternoon with the Versa and Vitamix head to head using identical ingredients. We started with green smoothies - kale, spinach, carrots, cucumber, broccoli, and mango juice. Next, my neighbor made some strawberry ice cream. To finish I made some sweet red pepper cream of chicken soup - I wanted to see how you could heat soup in a blender (this is amazing to me - the soup heats from friction of blades spinning at 28,000 rpm)!!
With all three recipes we got identical results with both machines except that the Versa heated the soup a little faster than the Vitamix which took about a minute longer to get up to 140 degrees according to my little meat thermometer.
So I'm very happy with my purchase because I got the Versa for less than half the cost of the Vitamix!!!!!
The only thing in question now is durability and dependability. The build quality seems very comprable plus the Versa also has the 7 year warranty. Time will tell...
Pros: As good as blender more than twice the price! Has three pre-programmed cycles for smoothie, soup, and sauce/dip.
Cons: Since we're comparing to Vitamix - Does not have the super low speed like the Vitamix. This would be nice for coarse dicing like pico de gallo but not a deal killer. The size doesn't bother me because after all we're in super blender class here right? Noise level is no more than my old cheap blender.
UPDATE 9-15-13: I have been using this blender heavily almost every day since I bought it. I drink at least two 32 oz. vegetable smoothies a day plus my wife drinks probably another 32 oz. or so. I now put a whole avocado WITH SEED/PIT per 64 oz. (the size of the blender pitcher) of smoothie and it completely liquifies with NO tastable particles - total creamy goodness. The avocado makes the smoothie nice and smoooooth. I usually make two or three pitchers per session, then put it in the 32 oz. bottles that the Bolthouse carrot juice comes in from Costco and freeze them. I travel a lot so I take them with me in a cooler and drink them as they thaw. I have lost around 14 lbs. since I started juicing/smoothie-ing with no self-discipline required because the smoothies are delicious and satisfy your hunger. Each 32 oz. smoothie has 24 oz. of vegetables in it - 8 oz. juice or almond milk and the rest veggies. I figure that's equivalent to at least THREE large restaurant salads but without the high calorie dressing and meat. My calculation is based on the size of a 9 oz. bag of spinach - it's pretty big - seems to me about the same volume as a large restaurant salad. FURTHERMORE - the restaurant salad is usually lettuce which is nowhere near as nutritious as the kale and spinach that I use in my smoothies. So if I drink two 32 oz. smoothies a day, it's like eating SIX SALADS!!!
UPDATE 7-3-14: Still smoothying and no deterioration in performance of the blender. I still drink 1 to 2 quarts of smoothie per day faithfully and love it. So 7 to 14 quarts per week which I would consider pretty heavy use. I've come up with a way to make in bulk weekly. I was previously measuring ingredients for every blender pitcher so multiple measurings per batch. Finally I got smart and now pre-measure for whole batch, add to blender whatever fits per pitcher and mix in big bucket then put in Bolthouse bottles for freezing. This is much quicker and the results are more consistent. A typical batch is 2.5 lbs fresh spinach, 1.5 lbs kale, 1.5 lbs. power mix greens from Costco, 1.5 lbs cucumber, 2 lbs broccoli, 48 oz carrot juice, plus ingredients for flavor can be either 48 oz fruit juice or (yes, I really do this: 48 oz almond milk, 4 tablespoons vanilla, 3/4 cup instant coffee, 32 packs of Stevia). So either the fruit flavor or coffee flavor has the same vegetables. This batch recipe makes about 8 quarts (2 gallons) of smoothie.
on November 26, 2013
Many reviewers have compared the VERSA to its obvious competitor, the Vitamix, which costs about twice as much. I'll compare it to a competitor at the other end of the scale: the Ninja Master Prep Professional, which costs less than one-third as much. Whether that's a fair comparison depends on what you want the appliances to do.
I purchased the Ninja hoping to make smoothies more easily than in my blender or food processor, and it does. The Ninja has multiple nasty-sharp blades, can pulverize ice cubes, and can handle most of what I throw at it. It's quick to assemble, and easy to clean. It does a better job than the food processor or blender of pulling in the food and pulverizing it, instead of just spinning around underneath it making mush on the bottom without blending the top. It's a pretty good deal for the price and got me into the smoothie habit.
The VERSA is definitely a step up, and my Ninja is now in storage.
The Ninja's 450 watt motor is reasonably powerful, but the VERSA's 1400 watt motor is a beast. When I put fibrous vegetables like carrots or kale in the Ninja, it makes a thick puree. It's definitely drinkable, but it's got a lot of texture. Putting these ingredients in the VERSA produces a completely smooth liquid.
I sometimes put chia seeds in my smoothies. With the Ninja, a lot of the seeds survive and are floating in the final product. With the VERSA, they disappear.
The Ninja has no speed control, and can only be pulsed; the only way to adjust the end result is by pulsing longer or shorter. Because the manufacturer recommends doing only 15-second pulses, leaning on it for several minutes to make something really smooth seems risky. But it's great for quickly chopping an onion or making salsa, and most smoothies are done in thirty seconds.
The VERSA has a simple variable speed control dial. Even at the low end it's powerful, and at the high end, it's very loud and whips the contents into a frenzy. You can leave it on for several minutes and not worry.
I tried to make tahini using only sesame seeds in my food processor, the Ninja, and the VERSA. The food processor burned itself out and shut off before making a dent in it because the blades just spun beneath the coarsely ground seeds which stuck to the sides. The Ninja did a better job, but even with its multiple blades it wouldn't pull the seeds in enough to turn them into butter. I stopped trying for fear I'd just ruin it. I'd like to say the VERSA made short work of it, but it didn't. I had to repeatedly use the pusher tool (which fits nicely through the hole in the top and won't reach the blades) to press the seeds into the blades, and the motor eventually shut itself off. After a few minutes I continued, and eventually I had tahini. A very tough job, but only the VERSA could finish it.
The VERSA has three special settings, and I've tried two. One allows you to push a button to make a smoothie, and it automatically changes speed to allow contents to settle into the blades before blending them, and shuts itself off when it imagines the smoothie is done. It works well with ingredients that will blend fairly easily, but with ice cubes or carrot chunks, you may have to turn it back on to finish the job. It also has a setting to make soup. You place the ingredients in, press the button, and walk away while it howls. After about four or five minutes, hot soup! Apparently the speed of the blades alone heats it up. I found if the ingredients are already hot when added, they get even hotter--extremely so. There are soups that can't be made properly just by blending raw ingredients and heating them quickly, but it's very nice to be able to toss some broccoli, seasonings, stock, and cream into the VERSA, push a button, and have hot soup in five minutes.
Unlike my blender, which unscrews at the bottom to remove the blade for easy cleaning, neither the bottom nor the blades of the VERSA are removable. The best way to clean it is to put some soapy water inside and turn it on for ten seconds. I've had no trouble.
The appliance is heavy and seems built to last. With the carafe it fits under my kitchen cabinets. The carafe is made of thick BPA-free plastic, and holds up to 64 ounces.
In summary, if all you need to do is make smoothies from typical ingredients--frozen berries, bananas, juice--the Ninja does a great job, and will make hummus, salsa, etc. nicely for a reasonable price. If your horizons are a little broader and you want something that will do a great job on almost anything, the VERSA is a well-designed workhorse.
UPDATE: The rubber seal around the carafe top on my VERSA became loose very quickly after I received it. It continued to work, but I could see it was only a matter of time before it broke and it didn't seem like it was supposed to be that way. I called Oster and they sent me a replacement under warranty, and it works perfectly--the first one must have been defective.
SECOND UPDATE: After about eight months the replacement rubber gasket has stretched just like the first one. It's apparently a design defect. Too bad, although everything else works very well.
on October 9, 2015
For a guy who makes on average two smoothies a day every day, I wanted a beast of a blender, but did not particularly want to shell out a few hundred dollars more for a Vitamix. The Oster VERSA was great for five or so months, then its performance started to degrade. The bottom of the jar began to leak machine oil, and it seemed to be "trying harder." It was still blending produce like a pro, so I thought maybe it was still in its 'break-in' period. One morning I was making a routine smoothie, and the blender started making a loud grinding noise. Thinking I had accidentally blended something I shouldn't have, I ran over to pick up the jar and a bunch of tiny metal fragments, metal dust, and ball bearings fell from the bottom of the jar. Whoa. The only things inside the pitcher were frozen mango, banana, and coconut water. And that was the last smoothie this "beast" ever made.
I called the warranty/support number, and the guy on the line was polite and sympathetic, but he charged me twenty bucks for a "Blender Accessory Refresh Kit" which I quickly learned does not fit this model in the slightest.
I called again and explained what happened, and the woman said she'd put in a request to refund my credit card the twenty dollars, and send out a replacement pitcher under warranty. Still waiting on that. Been without a blender for a few weeks.
At this point, I regret not shelling out for the Vitamix. I wish I could get my money back for the entire purchase. I can't recommend this to anyone, and I would not buy it again.
on August 10, 2015
I love this product. It's powerful and easy to use and clean. But it started leaking grease or oil from the point of contact between the jar and the base unit. And now my unit is leaking EVERYTHING. Liquid all over the place from the smoothie I left in it for a while. For over $200, I'm wondering if I should have just spent double that much and bought a Vitamix. Many satisfied customers compared the VERSA to a Vitamix, so I bought it. Loved it -- while it was intact. I was able to get through to the warranty phone number and they walked me through some information and questions. They will send me a new jar unit which should arrive in a week or two. I am satisfied with that and just changed from one star to 4. When the jar arrives -- and if it holds up better than the first one did -- I will update to 5 stars. It really is a wonderful blender. Hopefully the first jar was not indicative of the quality. Very good customer service.
on November 2, 2013
10/2014 Edit: Tamper/pusher has cracked at the base with just about one year of use. Warranty does not cover it. $10 for a replacement every year is bad and gets worse if Oster discontinues them. Motor and everything else has held up fine.
Very good Vitamix clone with a low profile jar for a much cheaper price and a 7 year warranty. Passed all tests I put it through and the only real con is longevity. As long as the product keeps working or long warranty comes through to fix any problems, this seems like a great buy.
The Machine itself:
Base - extremely light and had me worried. 7 year warranty assuaged my fears some what. No problems with lacking power to blend.
Jar - 64oz BPA-free short profile jar. This still doesn't not fit under a normal kitchen counter with the lid on. However, the stockier jar is much better to handle and to remove thicker foods with a spatula from the bottom. I prefer this over the taller narrower vitamix jars. Handle is very solid and easy to grip. Lid fits tight.
Things it can do:
* Dips/Spreads/nut butter - Hummus comes out great and very, very smooth. I do think I overloaded and overheated the machine doing hummus (3-4 cans vs 1-2 as recipes called for). See notes as it is likely my fault and even a vitamix would have died too.
* Soups - This is the only preset button that I actually use. Blended raw vegetables down to a frothy soup. 187F was the temp I recorded when done so you will get steamy "soup." I put the parentheses there because I believed the hype that these high performance blenders actually made soup. I would call it a hot, raw soup. Cooking is still required before/after for flavors/spices/herbs/etc to blend. If pressed for time, you can eat what comes out as it would be ready to serve.
* Smoothies - You can load this right up to the top with smoothie ingredients. Kale, spinach, apples, celery, pears, you name it and it will disappear. Raw carrots--gone. You can not find chunks or parts of spinach/kale after blending. For people who say that that a vitamix/blentec produces a better smoothie, I don't think they would pass double-blind testing. I don't think it's possible to blend something more than what this delivers and certainly not for double the price.
* Desserts - Sorbets and ice cream work. The "four pillows" will form just like in a vitamix (powdered/dry milk or protein powder or something is needed to thicken it or you will just get "ice milk"). Sorbets will require some elbow grease with the tamper.
Notes: There are two sensors to stop damage from occurring: overheat and overload. Vitamix and Blendtec do the same thing. The glowing red light will tell you which one has tripped:
Overheat: If you run the blender for too long it will just shutoff. You will then have to wait until it cools and maybe hit the reset button on the bottom. (Turning the dial to "preset / pulse" mode, the light will *not* glow red like normal. Unit will seem "dead" until it cools.)
Overload: Sensor will trip if you have too heavy of items or the blades can't move. Remove some items then continue blending. (Turning the dial to "preset / pulse" mode, the light will glow red like normal. Unit will seem to be ready to blend but not respond to controls until unloaded more.)
on September 26, 2015
This is a good looking and powerful blender. It does a great job on smoothies and can chop up the ingredients very finely. The long warranty and metal to metal mechanics were a deciding factor in the purchase. There are only two drawbacks that we noticed. 1.) the blender pitcher is plastic and not dishwasher safe but it is pretty easy to clean by running some soap and water through it. 2.) The tamper on our blender was too long and would start to grind itself up (see picture) if pressed down when running the blender. This was easily solved by using a saw to cut off roughly 1/4" of the tamper but still a rather large oversight on the part of the manufacturer.
on January 17, 2013
My OSTER VERSA is performing like the Vitamix I tried previously. I expected this to be much louder than it is. My Cuisinart Grind & Brew is **significantly** louder than this blender. This blender just sounds like, well...a blender. This puppy is HUGE (nearly 2' tall) so if you're thinking about showing it off on the counter, make sure it clears the overhead cabinets. (works w/ mine). Alas, parts can't go in the dishwasher, BUT, 2-drops of soap+water+30-sec of blending on "High" (which creates heat), rinse, dry, and done. Easy. If you're looking at uber-blenders (I'm looking at you there, drooling over that spendy VitaMix), I HIGHLY recommend this one. Frankly, I loved the VitaMix, too, but gosh - I think the Versa looks A LOT sexier and it appears to work equally well in my experience so far, for less cash.
Now that I own the Versa. Here's what I've noticed:
- EASY TO CLEAN (Yes, saying that again. It's true.)
- NICE RECIPE BOOK: *But* the VitaMix book is tabbed between sections to find recipes quickly, since the point of 2-hp blending is speed. Oh right. The point of blending is healthy living. (Tabs please.)
- EASY RECIPES: Follow them exactly and you'll be pleased. I loved the Berry Breakfast and the Ginger-Peach-Mango smoothies (I made the latter one into sorbet by freezing it. YUM!) There are soups, dips, dressings, and desserts and all kinds of goodness. Plus, you can find free uber-blender recipes posted online and they'll translate perfectly.
- QUALITY: The base of the blender is heavy (I believe the shipping weight was approx. 14-lbs). It has non-skid feet and they are effective at keeping 30,000 rpms from knocking that thing into the adjacent room.
- EASY TO USE: The dial settings are a teensy-weensy bit less intuitive than "on/off" but, simple.
- TAMPER INCLUDED: so, I screwed-up a recipe and that tamper saved my peachy-mango-ginger smoothie buns! Versa's tamper isn't a solid stick like VitaMix's. It's essentially the same, but has three channels pushing things down. It seems to make grabbing "stuck" stuff easier.
- OOH, LIGHT-UP BUTTONS: Useful, actually. And, very fancy-schmancy looking. Pulse/Smoothie/etc all light when in use (red for pulse, blue all others). You'll know you are operating in the mode you intended as a result.
- TIGHT LID, but it is easy to remove.
- NO CHUNKS IN MY SMOOTHIES!!!! And, isn't that what you wanted to know?! I have blended granola and flax into my frozen concoctions and they're fantastically refreshing, no chewing is required.
- 7-YEAR WARRANTY: That's simply comforting.
- ONLY ONE COLOR: Black. VitaMix offers three colors. (I love the way the Chrome Versa logo and accents shine off the black background, so that's not a deal-breaker for me.)
One last note. Another reviewer mentioned somewhere that the height of the blender makes its use challenging for us petite blending enthusiasts. (I'm 5' tall, and I rounded-up.) I fill the container BEFORE I attach it to the base. Problem solved. :)
on January 29, 2015
Purchased the short jar Versa just over a year ago. Used it about twice a week for smoothies with ice, frozen strawberries and other 'soft ' or liquid additions. It did a great job mixing nice thick protein drinks until two weeks ago when I noticed some bearing grease at the base. It still worked flawlessly until it made an awful grinding noise. Upon inspection, the gears are coumpletely stripped and the mechanism in the base looks to be loose.
This is a very powerful blender but the housing seems to be a little flimsy for such a bruit. No reply from Oster at this point. I will update my rating after hearing from customer service.
Upgraded my rating because customer service was awesome. I still think that it should have lasted more than a year but the blender was replaced with a new one in less than a week after calling the customer service number. They stand behind their product.
on April 4, 2014
Can I afford a VitaMix? Yes. Do I want to pay that much for a blender if there is a less expensive, comparable alternative? Hell NO. I did a lot of research on blenders and I concluded that this one was the best to try. One aspect that sold me was the 7 year warranty which gave me confidence at the gate. The day I received it, I immediately started to experiment, smoothies made with kale were SMOOTH. Need crushed ice? You get snow. Almond butter anyone? Coming right up. I wasn't offended by the noise...my juicer is much, much noisier. Easy to clean? CHECK! I spent more time than I should have looking at goofy videos comparing the degree of "smoothness" obtained with various blenders. There are WAY too many people who obsess about the smoothness of their smoothies. There's definitely a contingent of borderline "WEIRD" vitamix devotees. To those, I say "step aside...the Versa is here!"