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Good (cheaper) alternative to Vitamix Blender

I think this should be closed for several reasons, but want to get some feedback about this general "style" of question.

First, it seems to fall in the "which is better x or y?" category mentioned in this discussion about equipment:

Are questions about equipment off topic?

Second, it should be covered quite thoroughly by this question:

What to look for when purchasing a blender?

What do I mean by style? I'm referring to the direct comparison of specific brands of equipment. Do we want to have Q & A's that are solely product recommendations? Yes, I know that products are recommended all the time, but I don't think we've yet had a strict product comparison question.

Thoughts?

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I think that comparisons of this sort are a valid off shoot of cooking. Just like Kenji at serious eats did a burn comparison of All-clad and the wal-mart version to see if you were actually getting anything for your money. There is an endless variety of kitchen equipment that is bewildering to novice cooks (and sometimes even experienced), and while good equipment doesn't make a good cook, it sure does make it easier to be one.

Not to mention, you can go broke buying over-priced crap in the culinary world if you don't know what you are looking for or how to evaluate what you are buying. For every amazing 100 dollar knife brand, there are ten who won't hold an edge through a tomato.

I'm not suggesting that we allow "so I got a new house, what should I buy for my kitchen?" questions. However if they can present enough prior knowledge to ask a specific question about it (as I feel this blender question does) then I have no problem with it being here.

  • Cooks Illustrated's family of publications does equipment ratings all the time. I find them endlessly useful. – justkt Aug 31 '10 at 13:07
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Personally, I think the question is OK in what it's trying to ask but maybe not in the way it's phrased. While the question seems to be about a particular (awesome) blender, the question is really asking, "what blenders will do the following list of things?" The vitamix (and it's compatriots in the high end blender market like blend-tec and waring) has some characteristics that are not common to all blenders like making hot soups through friction, making frozen drinks / smoothies with very fine crushed ice, and long shelf life. Asking if it's reasonable to expect those traits out of a lower cost blender (and if so, which one?) seems to be a reasonable question to me. With a change to the more general case, I think it meets all of Aaronuts requirements as laid out in the meta conversation you listed.

I actually think the question is OK already since the OP actually lists the characteristics of the blender that he's looking for in a cheaper model.

  • so you think that if this was re written along the lines of "what blenders have the following features: Blend ice, heat soup through friction, create flour from nuts. Obviously I'd prefer a cheaper model." you think it's be ok? Should he just remove the reference to the specific model he's comparing too? I tend to agree, the question seems to contain objective criteria to choose the blender, which are specific enough to exclude a most 'ordinary' blenders – Sam Holder Aug 30 '10 at 18:10
  • @Sam, yeah, pretty much. Although, I actually think a "like vitamix, blend-tec, or waring's products" would actually be a useful addendum to the question. – yossarian Aug 30 '10 at 19:34
  • I agree with this rationale. The most important litmus test for a question is whether or not the answers can be judged consistently and fairly (i.e. objectively). This question gives more than enough detail to do so. It's maybe a tad localized, but not nearly enough for me to consider bringing down the hammer. – Aaronut Aug 31 '10 at 2:24
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I personally have no problem with this kind of question. To look at it from the meta-perspective, the big value of this site is when it is indexed by the search engines, so that people looking for information can find it later. There isn't that much value in just reading through the questions in order.

So even if we have some questions that are marginal in terms of exactly fitting the criteria, I don't believe it hurts the overall value of the site - once they are off the front page, no-one will see them unless the are potentially relevant to their personal questions.

I think we should spend less energy on deciding on exactly what is on-topic and closing stuff that is marginal. Of course we should continue to close the stuff that is way off in the weeds of subjectivity or non-cooking related.

  • Regarding the spending less energy on off-topic decisions. I thought this too at first, but as others pointed out to me at the time, it's actually the single most important thing we should be doing right now: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/07/… – hobodave Aug 30 '10 at 18:52

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