Blendtec Blender Models: Total Blender vs. HP3A

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Although I obviously feel it is money well spent, an investment into a high-performance blender is not one that should be made casually.  I advise all prospective buyers to research their options as thoroughly as possible.  And most do if for no other reason than the price points of the higher-end units.  Unfortunately, selecting the right one is not the simplest of shopping experiences.  Sorting the numerous manufacturers and corresponding models of super-blenders is one big challenge to overcome.  An even greater one, in my opinion, is the abundance of conflicting information from different sources on the very same models.  An online search for “Vitamix 5200,” for instance, will yield countless sites offering the consumer everything from short general descriptions to lengthy, bullet-pointed feature, use, and specification lists.  Visit more than a couple of them, though, and you’ll be left wondering whether it contains a 1 ½, 2, or 2 ½ horsepower motor.  One site says it comes with a co-polyester jar.  Another claims it’s polycarbonate.  One reviewer will complain about having to use a tamper for all his recipes.  Another will claim she never uses hers.  A reconditioned Vitamix carries with it a five year warranty.  Or is it seven?

When not demonstrating my blenders I spend most of my working hours answering email questions about them.  One of the more common inquiries I receive is from those considering multiple models manufactured by Blendtec.  Specifically, I’m asked about the differences between the Total Blender and the HP3A.  With an abundance of misleading YouTube videos and erroneous reviews and product pages from some of the world’s leading online retailers, I wonder little why confusion abounds amongst those trying to educate themselves prior to buying.  To be certain, both are great machines.  But there are minor differences in user interface and, perhaps, not-so minor purchasing considerations of which prospective buyers will want to make themselves aware.

Overview

Also known as the Blendtec Home Blender, the HP3A is a revision of the popular K-TEC Champ HP3 model introduced commercially by Blendtec’s parent company in the mid-1990s.  Originally designed for coffee and smoothie shops, it was the first high-performance blender on the market containing a microchip allowing for pre-programmed blending cycles.  The transformation into the current HP3A model primarily involved a revision of this programming.  The Total Blender was introduced in late 2004 as the company’s first model designed specifically for home use.  Also utilizing Smart-Touch Tec-nology™, it is considered by Blendtec to be the more user-friendly of the two machines.

Both the Total Blender and HP3A are made in Blendtec’s Orem, Utah, manufacturing facility.  Both contain the same 13 amp, 1560 watt motor and are available in identical motor base finishes in the FourSide, WildSide, and Combo container packages.  Whereas the Total Blender is sold online directly through Blendtec and its authorized affiliates, the HP3A is available through dealers.  When purchased through any of its authorized agents, both models carry a 7 year manufacturer’s warranty.  Recipe books and user manuals are included with both units as well.

Differences

From a practical usage standpoint, the two machines separate themselves via distinctly different control panels and user interfaces.  The panel on the Total Blender consists of nine buttons, six of which are labeled with the specific functions each performs.  These are known as “blend cycle” buttons.  In total there are thirteen functions labeled across the six blend cycles.  Additionally, two buttons allow the user to manually select any of the blender’s ten speeds up and down, and the Pulse button will spin the blender’s blades at medium-high speed for only as long as it is held depressed.

 

 

Every recipe in the book Blendtec includes with the Total Blender can be achieved by loading the correct ingredients into the container, locating the corresponding blend cycle button on the panel, and pressing it a single time.  The machine will run for the proper length of time, as well as change speeds as necessary, before stopping itself after having performed the particular operation selected.  Should the user wish to stop the blender while it is running on any of its pre-programmed or manual cycles, any of the blend cycle buttons on the panel will do so when pressed.  An even more in-depth look at the user interface can be found in this review of the Total Blender.

The interface on the HP3A involves a combination of the control panel, also containing nine buttons, and the blue LED screen just below it on the front of the blender.  A Pulse button and Speed Up/Down buttons work just like those on the Total Blender.  Twenty-five blend cycle settings are accessed by using the Select Cycle Menu button to choose one of five categories which appear digitally on the screen, then the Speed Up/Down buttons (which serve a dual purpose of navigating the cycle options), also appearing on the screen, within the category.  Examples include “Ice Cream,” “Granita,” “Ice Cappuccino,” “FullStrength™”, and “Soup.”  To prepare a soup, for instance, after loading the container with the proper ingredients, the user would press the Select Cycle Menu two times to reach the “Whole Foods” category.  Next he or she would press the Speed Up button four times to reach the “Soup” cycle, then press the Start/Stop button once to commence blending.  In this example, various buttons must be pressed a total of seven times to prepare soup compared to one button one time with the Total Blender.  Once a cycle starts, the HP3A, like the Total Blender, is programmed to change speeds as necessary during the blending operation to achieve the desired results and stop once this has been performed.  The four remaining buttons on the panel are pre-set buttons which may be programmed with the user’s choice of any of the aforementioned cycles.

 

 

The pre-programmed cycles on the HP3A are calculated specifically for those recipes that come in the book included with the machine.  Following the recipe as called then navigating to and selecting the appropriate blend cycle will yield expected results.  The further the user deviates from a recipe in terms of either ingredient ratios or the ingredients themselves, however, the more likely either experimentation with a different blend cycle or reliance on the manual controls will become necessary.  It is for this reason that more experienced users of the machine will likely find themselves often bypassing the pre-programmed cycles, opting instead to manually control the machine via the Speed Up/Down buttons in order to achieve a desired result.

Purchasing Caveat

As mentioned earlier, online purchases of the Total Blender can be made only through Blendtec, itself, or one of its authorized affiliates.  An order will always be finalized through the official checkout page at Blendtec.com, thus assuring customers of a genuine Blendtec unit carrying with it a complete manufacturer’s warranty.  Pricing on the Total Blender does not vary from Blendtec to its affiliates.  The HP3A is available only through dealers, and online orders are placed through the dealer’s individual site.  Any HP3A sold from an authorized Blendtec dealer will also carry a complete manufacturer’s warranty.  The warranty is voided, however, should a unit be purchased from a non-authorized seller.  For this reason, verifying the authorization status of the dealer should be of primary importance to anyone considering the purchase of an HP3A.

Blendtec’s customer service team is available by phone or email to answer technical or operational questions about either the Total Blender or the HP3A.  It also processes warranty-related issues for both models.  Unit returns, however, are at the discretion of the dealer with the HP3A whereas Blendtec’s return policy applies to the Total Blender.  Purchased either from Blendtec or one of its authorized agents, owners of either model should feel confident they are in possession of one of – if not the – finest quality high-performance blenders on the market today.

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37 comments so far. Have questions? Fire away! We can discuss it right here.
  1. Hi there BD!Do you have any experience with the Blendtec Xpress/EZ Blender?

    i’m looking into buying one for green juice, smoothies (from frozen fruits), nut milk/butter and grinding grains to flour. So i’m wondering if you’d know if the Blendtec Xpress/EZ would be a good fit.

    Thanks
    Joyce

  2. We just bought the blendtec Classic 570 from Costco. What do you recommended for making a crushed ice drink? I notice on this particular model there is no setting. Should we be returning this one for a different model with more preset settings? Which is the best bang for your buck?

    • bd

      Tracy, crushed ice can be achieved using any low to mid-range speed on any Blendtec model. There is really no way to mess it up unless you either blend too long or on too high a speed, thus melting the ice. A more likely problem, though, is going to be making sure all your whole ice reaches the blades for consistent blending. Because it doesn’t come with a tamper-like tool, Blendtecs can sometimes have difficulty with strictly frozen ingredients. You may find yourself having to occasionally stop the blender and redirect the ice into the cutting paths of the blades. With some patience, though, you’ll eventually get a really nice, smooth final product. Good luck@!

  3. I have the KTEC Champ EZS Smoother with buttons 1-2-3-4-5-Pulse. Do you know what buttons/speeds on mine coincide with the Blendtec speeds listed in the recipes, etc? The buttons you mention in your article for the Champ HP3 don’t sound like mine. This is an older unit we found at a yard sale—WHAT A FIND!!! Each button goes through speed changes/a cycle. Blendtec no longer has the original recipe book that goes with this. Thanks-

    • bd

      Rosemary, those 5 buttons actually correspond with upwards of 30 different blend cycles. They are not a button-for-button match to today’s Total Blender or Designers Series models. However, Blendtec continues to make this model, or one very comparable to it, today. Consult this owner’s manual and see if it works similarly. Short of this working you are going to have to call Blendtec customer service and ask them to give you the information you need. Good luck!

      Blendtec EZ Blender Owner’s Manual

  4. Hi BD, My husband just bought the Blendtec Classic 570 as a “surprise” for me from Costco. I found out by accident and am wondering after looking for reviews on this model and coming up short if he should have gone for the more expensive designer version? I currently own a ninja that’s adequate for most of my kitchen usage except grinding oat flour.
    Thanks for any advice you might have.
    Mansi.

    • bd

      Mansi, the motor in the 570 is the same motor found in the Total Blender and also the original Designer Series Blendtecs. It is extremely powerful and will handle practically any blending task you throw at it. The WildSide container that comes with it is also identical to those two models I mentioned. It lacks Variable Speeds 1 through 10. Instead, it has Low, Medium, and High. 99.9% of all your blending can be properly executed with just these three speeds. Upgrading to the Designer 725+ would give you a .5 hp stronger motor and a container with slight modifications at nearly double the price.

      • Thank you for your guidance. The Blendtec arrived yesterday and I’ve already made oats flour, rice flour and quinoa flour as well as cilantro chutney and mango-banana-papaya-apple juice smoothies. I’m impressed! Even though the machine said Overtemp on two occasions (I’m attributing it to over enthusiastic user error: the first time I put too many oats to grind at once on high speed and got the error message after 40 seconds; the second time i tried to blend oats, quinoa and rice flours with dates, shortening and water for a batter and may have overfilled again), it doesn’t seem to be defective given how well it performed on the smoothies and chutney. In looking forward to trying more recipes and can see how much of a time saver it will be in my kitchen.

        • bd

          Mansi, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sure the Blendtec is just fine. Continue having fun experimenting with it. As with anything, experience is the best teacher with these high-powered blenders. Before long you will know exactly how much of each ingredient you can load optimally into the jar. Before long the overtemp messages will be a thing of the past.

  5. Hello

    I would like to know if u have any knowledge about what kind of plastic the blendtec jar is made of. It says its BPA free but there are other toxic Bisfenol S (BPS) which is more toxic. Are there any plans making glas jars ?

    best regards
    behz

    • Blenderdude

      Behz, Blendtec jars are made of Eastman Tritan copolyester. Eastman claims that no bisphenols – BPA nor any of its analogs such as BPS – are used in its manufacturing process.

      I have not been informed of any plans for a glass jar to be introduced, and wouldn’t expect one anytime soon.

  6. Can you please tell me what would be your blender of choice not ( stealth or quiet one) if u were to open a small smoothie shop. which one of these “residential” products can best make the crossover to commercial usage.

    Thanks

    • Blenderdude

      Jose, though I’m sure you’re aware, both the Stealth by Blendtec and the Quiet One by Vitamix are commercial machines. Either would be ideal for a smoothie shop and, in fact, both are used in the most well-known shops in the business. Which one I chose would likely depend upon the particular recipes I used for my smoothies. Both have greater than 3 horsepower motors and 15 amps. They are both beasts. Though both are expensive, they are not priced similarly to the best of my knowledge. This would go a long way toward determining which one I bought. However, price might not be as big a concern for you.

      Regarding the residential products making the crossover to commercial usage, I think both Vitamix and Blendtec make “home” machines that could easily handle most of the work a smoothie shop would give them. However, the major caveat with doing this is the jeopardizing of the warranties that come with these blenders. If either manufacturer suspects their blender has been used in a commercial capacity, you will most-likely face severe resistance when trying to utilize your warranty coverage should something go wrong.

  7. Is there a Blendtek machine I can purchase in USA that I can use safely in Czech Republic?

    • Blenderdude

      Bonnie, if you used a converter you could most-likely get a blender purchased in the U.S. to work in the Czech Republic. However, I never recommend doing this for a variety of reasons. Among them is the fact that doing so will void your warranty on the machine. Also, although the blender will work, there is a real likelihood that it could be damaged as result, as well as a chance that the blender will not perform as well as it would otherwise. In addition to these considerations, if possible, I would recommend speaking to an electrician in the Czech Republic about what you are considering prior to making your purchase.

  8. Hi
    Your explanation of the differences between the two machines has saved me around £150! I was thinking 25 preprogrammed options would be better than 6. I tend to go off piste when ‘following’ recipes, so 6 cycles coupled with the standard manual speed options will suit me down to ground.

    Thanks for the really useful information.

    Debra

    • Blenderdude

      Great news, Debra. I’m glad you found it relevant and that you were able to save some money. Congrats.

  9. Hi

    Thx for great information. Very appreciated. Im now in the states and want to buy a blendtec with with me to Europe, Sweden. The thing is in Sweden we have 220V and in the States its 110V, so i was wondering if the belndtec that are being sold in states are only adapted to the states market or not.

    best regards
    bez

    • Blenderdude

      Bez, it may be possible to convert the U.S. Blendtec model from 110V to 220V, but you should be aware of a couple potential ramifications. First, several professional electricians have informed me that there is a possibility that doing so could damage the blender in some way, and, at the very least, would most likely affect its performance to some degree. The second problem with doing this conversion is that Blendtec will not honor the warranty on the blender if you do this. So, although doing this conversion is possible, I cannot give it my recommendation.

      • Hi BD

        Thank you for ur reply! I have been reading back and forth abt HP3A and Total Blender, very difficult to choose :). Which one is user friendly, when i watch the setting, it seems that Total blender its easier to use, while HP3A u have to know the pre-programmed settings. I want it to be easy and fast to use when using the blender, i more into beans, peanut butter, almonds, smoothies. If u had to recommend which one would u recommend? 🙂

        Thank you!
        Bez

        • Blenderdude

          Bez, all the pre-programmed functions of the Total Blender are spelled out right on the buttons, themselves. If you are following a Blendtec recipe there is no “guesswork” as to which button you need to select. For this reason I would have to say the Total Blender is a little more user friendly.

  10. Does the Blendtec HP3A “emulsify” fresh fruits and vegetables and at what speed? I’m considering buying one because of the obvious commercial quality inherent in the Blendtec. The “Ninja” obviously doesn’t hold up if used daily but does emulsify foods for optimal nutrient content. What your take? Thanks -David

    • Blenderdude

      David, if by “emulsify” you mean break down the cell structure of fruits and veggies for optimal nutritional yield, then, yes, the Blendtec certainly does this. And, I would argue, to a significantly greater degree than deos the Ninja. At precisely what speed this increased breaking down of cell walls takes place I cannot say and wouldn’t want to speculate. To my knowledge a study of this correlated to blade speed has never been done.

      I have used the Ninja extensively and I believe it does a nice job with whole food smoothies. However, when comparing it with the Blendtec you should have no problems recognizing which one does a more thorough job of breaking down your fruits and vegetables.

  11. The manual speeds are misleading on the Blendtecs. The Total Blender has steps 1 -10, implying 10 different speeds. But careful listening will discover there are really only 7 speeds – settings 8, 9, and 10 really just repeat Speed 7. On the Designer series, they only have 8 steps, but Step 8 is the same as Step 7. Blendtec Customer Service verified that its commercial blenders are 7 speed, and they admitted that their ‘home’ blenders are ‘ probably’ only 7 speed as well. With those extra speed slots available, it’s too bad they don’t set a slower speed than ~4000 RPM for chopping. Vitamix slowest speed is about 500 RPM on the 5200.

    • Blenderdude

      Brad, unless Blendtec has made a recent, unannounced design change to the user interface on their blenders, the assumption that the three highest manual speeds are identical is simply incorrect. In fact, in my experience with the Total Blender – which is extensive – the most noticeable speed increases actually occur from 7 to 8, 8 to 9, and then 9 to 10. The speed increases in the middle ranges, although present, are less noticeable to the ear in my opinion. Regardless, there are definitely 10 distinct manual speeds. If you cannot notice any difference in the high speeds, I might suggest you get Blendtec to have a look at your machine.

      That said, I do agree with you that users of the Blendtecs would benefit from a “lower low-end” speed similar to what the Vitamix machines offer. The blunt blade design on the Blendtec would make effective use of very low speeds a bit more challenging, though.

      • I only know what Blendtec told me: their commercial blenders only have 7 speeds, so it makes sense to them that their consumer machines do as well. They did not dispute that their 8,9, and 10 settings merely duplicate their 7 setting. Also, the Designer series stops at 8 because 9 and 10 were merely duplicates. Perhaps you can confirm this information from Blendtec yourself, inasmuch as you have a professional relationship with them.I would just like to know the truth.

        • Blenderdude

          I will try to get an explanation from Blendtec as to why 8 manual speeds are offered on the Designer Series as opposed to 10, but I assure you it is not because speeds 8, 9, and 10 are merely duplicates of one another. The Total Blender and HP3A models both have 10 distinct speed options when controlled manually.

          One possible explanation could be the amount of “real estate” on the control panel for LED lights on the capacitive-touch user interface of the Designer Series. They might have decided 8 lights was the optimal number to use. As such, they would have spaced out the speed increments such that speed 1 is the same for both, but speed 8 on the Designer Series is the equivalent of speed 10 on the Total Blender.

          • I should be more clear. Without any load ( no jar), the Total Blender has 10 speeds with audible increases in RPM with each speed. However, if you put a jar on it with some water for load ( maybe 25 oz.) there appears to be no audible difference in RPM between 8, 9, or 10. Try it and see what your experience is. I’m trying to determine if there is something wrong with my blender. I’ve only had it for a week – thanks to your recommendation. It’s a great blender other than this speed thing.

            • Blenderdude

              Brad, put 4 cups of room-temperature water into a bowl or other container, then add 2 cups of it to the Blendtec jar. Run two 50-second manual cycles on speed 8 and, either by hand or with a thermometer, gauge the temperature. Discard that water then add the remaining 2 cups to the Blendtec container and run another two manual cycles, this time on speed 10. You should detect a noticeable temperature difference in the two samples which would be indicative of two distinctly different blade speeds. If you don’t, then I would suggest there might be a problem with the blender and Blendtec should have a look at it.

              • Hey BD….I tried your test and there was no temp difference between the #8 and #10 speed. I sent it back and am awaiting a new one. Thx.

                • Blenderdude

                  Brad, you should have noticed a difference. I think you did the wise thing in sending it back. Best of luck with it – keep us informed with how your customer service experience with Blendtec goes.

                  • I am surprised that these high end blender companies has such sketchy customer service. Vita-mix is almost impossible to contact, and Blendtec customer service is vague. For instance, for weeks I have been requesting the reasoning behind the Signature Series model that reduced the preprogrammed cycles from 6 to 5 ( eliminated the very useful Ice Crush cycle) , and cut the manual speeds from 10 to 5. I really see no purpose for the Signature Series changes, and Customer Service has no justification for it , either.

                    • Blenderdude

                      Brad, I understand your frustration. Vitamix typically has outstanding customer service. In fact, they are known for it. The slight modifications in the Signature Series Blendtec is an engineering/design decision that customer service probably hasn’t been made privy to. My guess is that these changes were simply to fill in the unutilized “real estate” on the control panel. Ice can be crushed on any low manual speed. Basically, in my opinion, the Signature Series was model was created simply to combine multiple containers and accessories into one package.

          • BD,

            It just so happens that I was on the Blendtec site today and saw the Blendtec rep answer this very question about the Designer series. He/she said that the Designer series essentially has an unlimited amount of speeds because of it’s capacitive slider, with the maximum speed being the same as speed 10 on the Total Blender. In other words, due to being able to control the speed by sliding, you can access many “in-between” speeds.

            On very interesting thing is that I found out that speed 1 on the Signature series is slower than speed 1 on the Total Blender and the speed 2 is equal to speed 1 on the Total Blender and I found this conversion chart: Signature Series Speed Chart

            • Blenderdude

              Joseph, it is true that the capacitive touch slider on the Designer Series model increases motor speed gradually instead of jumping from one speed to the next, but there are LED lights on its interface which correspond to 8 speeds/speed levels. This is most likely to what Brad’s comments above refer.

              Having used both models, I would agree that Speed 1 on the Signature Series is slightly slower than Speed 1 of the Total Blender, but Speed 2 of the Signature Series is slightly faster, not equal. Personally, I think Blendtec should create a separate book for any model that has either a container or user interface that differs from the Total Blender FourSide Classic which was recently discontinued. Having to “convert” recipes has given many Blendtec owners plenty of headaches.

  12. Which model is the more practical for everyday use? It appears that the HP3A could be more versatile but complicated. Despite that the Total Blender doesn’t have as many programmed selections, can it do everything that the HP3A can?

    • Blenderdude

      Joe, the HP3A has more pre-programmed settings, but these are tied to specific recipes that you should follow precisely to achieve optimum results. The same goes for the Total Blender if you wish to use its pre-programmed settings. All the options on the Total Blender are labeled for you right there on the control panel. You have to “surf” a little bit to find some of the HP3A settings. In that regard the HP3A is more complicated. I don’t know that I’d call it more versatile, though. There is nothing one will do that the other won’t. If by “everyday use” you mean simply throwing something in the blender and choosing a speed (this is what I do, predominantly) then both are equal in that the Speed Up/Down buttons are right there on the panel.

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