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UPDATED: A dirty disappointment
Member Name: j9j8j7
Date: 03/01/13, updated on 06/06/13 (460 review reads)
Advantages: Good, powerful motor and variable speed control, glass jug
Disadvantages: can't clean between plastic and glass on jug, leaks, seal splits
Last summer my doctor recommended I eat a bit more protein, particularly at breakfast, but there's only so much I can stomach first thing in the morning (I'm not a morning person) so I decided to add a morning smoothie with some protein powder to my daily routine. Actually, I love smoothies and was looking for an excuse to treat myself to a new gadget in the kitchen... After reading through reviews on Amazon I settled on a Duronic BL1200.
The Duronic BL1200 has a powerful 1200W motor with variable speed control and 3 pre programmed settings for ice crushing, smoothies and auto clean. The 1.8L jug is made of glass and the brushed stainless steel base gives the blender a sense of quality and style. The blade can be removed from the base.
One of the reasons I bought this blender was that it had the ability to remove the blade from the base. I've had a number of blenders over the years and find that the "auto clean" functions are fine for every day cleaning but now and again I like to take everything apart and get into all the nooks and crannies. However, when I unpacked this blender from the box I was disappointed to learn that although the blade can be removed, the black plastic part at the base of the jug cannot be removed from the glass portion. This has proved to be a problem as food DOES get into the gap and it provides an excellent breeding ground for all sorts of unspeakables. I pour boiling water over it once a week which has kept it from getting too disgusting, but I still consider this to be a fairly large design flaw. Additionally, it is incredibly difficult to remove the blade from the base. The manual provides no clues as to how to detach it, but after playing with it for some time my husband discovered that the lid acts like a key. I have small-medium sized hands and struggle to grasp the large lid with enough force to screw/unscrew the blade and frequently have to get my husband's help. That said, the auto cleans works reasonably well so long as food hasn't dried on so it is important to run the auto clean right after use (not leave it until I get home from work as I am tempted to do when I'm running late in the morning).
I primarily use this blender to make breakfast smoothies every morning. It does this quite well. The powerful 1200W motor blends everything effortlessly and I've never felt like it was struggling to mix everything together (even when I'm making very thick smoothies with lots of frozen fruit). The variable speed control has a good range and allows me to use exactly the speed I want. The smoothie setting takes a little too long and in my opinion slightly over blends (I like my smoothies to have a little texture and not be completely liquidised). The auto clean works ok, but a word of warning- don't fill it more than half way and make sure to FIRMLY press a tea towel over the top when you use it because it will shoot the lid off. It creates a lot of pressure and it has almost pushed the lid off a few times even when I was pressing it down. I would NEVER fill this blender to the Max mark because it creates a lot of pressure and will shoot the lid off. I imagine it could be quite dangerous if filled with hot soup or such. Which takes me to yet another fault with this product- the rubber seal on the lid split after just a few weeks. I contacted the company and they sent me a replacement without any fuss, but the second lid cracked in exactly the same way after a few weeks. I didn't bother getting another replacement as it still functions just fine, but it doesn't say much for the blender's quality.
My other real gripe with this product is the fact it leaks. I make sure the seal is placed correctly and the blade is screwed on as tight as it will go, but it still leaks. It's not much and generally only water when I run the clean cycle, but unfortunately it is causing something on the base of the blade to rust. So the bottom of my jug and the top of the base unit have a few drops of rusty water on them after every use. Not happy.
After writing this review I decided the rusting problem really wasn't acceptable and contacted customer service to complain. To their credit, they sent me a mailing label to return the blender. Two weeks later I received a brand new blender in the post. I have to say their customer service was top notch and it tempted me to upgrade my rating to 3 stars, but sadly the replacement blender has a number of equally annoying (and worse) flaws.
I have been using the new blender for about 2 months. I always run the auto clean cycle directly after making anything in the blender and I have not removed the blade from the base (which is a disappointment because that was one of the reasons I chose this blender). The new blender hasn't started leaking but there is still a small amount of black sludge that builds up on the bottom (outside) of the jug where the blade attaches. I assume it will turn rusty in a little more time. After every few uses I use a cotton swab to wipe it out because it is pretty disgusting.
I still have to be careful to only fill the blender half way and firmly press down the lid with a tea towel during the cleaning cycle because the lid still wants to shoot off. If anything, I'd say more water escapes the seal on this one (hence the need for a tea towel). One good thing is that the lid has not yet split on the replacement blender.
Sadly, the replacement has a few additional problems. First, the motor sounds truly awful on low speeds. It makes this horrible grinding sound that sounds like the motor is going to burn out any moment. I frequently turn the speed up higher just because it sounds like it's going to break on low speeds. This one also doesn't do nearly as good a job at blending. I frequently get small chunks of banana left in my smoothies (perhaps they blend best on low speeds- don't know). Everything else seems to blend just fine.
Second, the replacement suffers from counter creep. It dances around the counter- if you don't hold it down it could easily move 30+ cm which means it could quite easily creep right off the side of the counter if you don't keep an eye on it. I didn't have a problem with the original, but there are a number of complaints on amazon reviews, so obviously I'm not the only one with an issue.
===Price and Availability===
I bought this blender from Amazon for £50, but it is now listed for £59.99 which is a claimed savings of 70% off the regular price of £199.99. It is listed on a number of other sites for similar, heavily discounted, prices so it's obviously one of those marketing ploys to make you think you are getting a better deal than you really are actually getting. It's not worth the money I paid for it and it certainly isn't worth £200.
Don't buy it. The Duronic BL1200 looks nice and has a good motor but it has a number of serious design flaws which make it unpleasant and perhaps even dangerous to use.
Summary: A nice looking, powerful blender with serious flaws.