If you’re ever up late at night and watching the boob tube, you may have already seen this next product on the hundreds of Nutri Ninja DUO infomercials that air when everyone else is sleeping. If you haven’t, though, the Nutri Ninja BlendMax DUO with Auto-iQ is an all-in-one blender system that uses both the traditional blade/pitcher setup alongside an innovative smoothie cup attachment to make eating healthy on the go easier than ever before. But is it one of the best blenders for crushing ice?
But at such a cheap price, can the 1600 HP motor really do everything you need it to in record time? Read on in my Nutri Ninja BlendMax DUO with Auto-iQ blender review to find out!
Price: $199.99 on Amazon
Available: October 2016
Summary: The Nutri Ninja BlendMax DUO with Auto iQ makes a fine smoothie with minimal effort on your part using the included 24oz cups, but the blade system in the MAX 880z pitcher could still use a little work.
What We Liked
- Portable 24 oz cups are perfect for smoothies on the go
- MAX blender pitcher is good for soups
- 1/2 the price of a Vitamix
What We Didn’t
- Blades in MAX pitcher aren’t effective for smoothies
- Eardrum-rupturingly loud
- Could be pricey for some
Nutri Ninja BlendMax DUO with Auto-iQ Blender Specs
|Nutri Ninja Duo with Auto-iQ Blender System|
|Power||1600-Watt, 2 horsepower|
|Included Jar Size||1 88oz blender
2 24oz smoothie cups
1 18oz smoothie cup
|Loudness Rating||83.4.3dB dry, 101.3dB smoothie, 109.8dB ice|
|Max Warranty||Lifetime (upgradable for $)|
The Nutri Ninja BlendMax DUO’s design borrows and shares many of its aesthetic notes from the larger Ninja iQ system we reviewed last month. As we already noted there, while the blender certainly maintains a certain “futuristic” look thanks to its black-on-silver color scheme and LED lit display, all this extra noise on the touch panel may not be the preferred method of control for true blender purists out there.
Related: Best Blender for Smoothies 2018
At 7 x 10 x 17.5 inches around and just over 10lbs standing weight, lugging the Ninja DUO around isn’t especially easy, but not that hard either. The main difficulty comes from the ultra-sticky suction cups on the bottom of the unit, which would grab onto our granite countertops so tight that just getting it from underneath the cabinet took me pulling as hard as I could with both arms.
Unlike the original Ninja system which comes with an included food processor option, the DUO is just that: two pieces of equipment for two different jobs. The first is the main MAX 88oz “Total Crushing” pitcher unit with a three-sided spiraled blade that goes up right the middle, while the second is a more traditional four-pronged blade that screws onto the bottom of one of the included 24oz or 18oz to-go smoothie cups.
The Nutri Ninja Auto iQ Blender system uses a 1600-Watt, 2 HP motor to power its base, which gives it exactly 100 more horses than the Auto iQ. The similarities between the iQ and the DUO continue on with many of the same settings available on each, including those for changing the power level, or enabling the “Auto iQ” system which is essentially just a series of programmed spin cycles that change on the fly depending on the type of pitcher/jar you’re using at the time.
Unfortunately, these presets don’t always match up the way you’d expect. For example, you can use the “Smoothie” setting when the MAX pitcher is locked into the base – but as was the case with the original Ninja – the spiral-style blade is terrible for anything except chunkier soups or grinding up spices/coffee/ice. When we tried to make smoothies inside the MAX, we got a chunky, unpalatable mess that never lived up to the “smooth” part of the drink’s name, no matter how long we blended for.
If you’re really a smoothie nut then, we’d recommend using the “Extract” option on the Ninja cups instead. Blending in the cup is significantly more powerful and reliable than what you might find on something like the Magic Bullet, and outclasses the MAX pitcher in almost every instance save for a few specialty meals. The best part is that once you lock the cup onto the base and hit start, you can just walk away from the unit while it goes into spin cycle for a minute-thirty, or use that valuable time to clean up any mess before it’s done.
Nutri Ninja also went and fixed up the impossible-to-sip-from lids that were a pain to deal with on the last to-go cups, and the new style works wonders as long as you don’t plan on chugging your entire smoothie in a single go.
Look, there’s no way around it: if you value the health of your eardrums or those of your family, the Ninja DUO is going to be a challenge to keep around.
We ran the Nutri Ninja through three separate tests to determine its loudness profile: once dry with the MAX pitcher, one with ice in the MAX pitcher, and once in the smoothie cup filled with various smoothie ingredients. Of those tests the smoothie was the quietest, thanks to the muffling effect of the ingredients weighing down on the blade assembly. At the peak RPM we read a dB rating of 83.4, a number which climbed to 101.3dB during the dry run.
Unsurprisingly the ice test was the worst offender of the bunch, registering an ear-splitting 109.8dB from over 5ft away. If you make smoothies early in the morning before your family is up you might be able to get away with it without waking anyone, but it’ll probably be a good idea to hold off on that 6AM margarita until daylight hours at least.
Overall the performance of the Nutri Ninja BlendMax DUO with Auto-iQ is a bit of a grab-bag, with pros and cons on both sides of the equation. On the one hand it’s perfect if you want a fast, simple, and effortless way to make smoothies in the morning so you can reclaim those valuable minutes in the morning back from standing in front of your blender. On the other, the MAX pitcher (or rather the blade system inside) is still not quite up to the task, and was beat out in product smoothness almost every time by the cup’s more traditional four-pronged style.
When it comes to the Nutri Ninja DUO vs Vitamix debate, one is crowded and complicated but feature-rich, while the other is simplicity at its finest. That said, given the Ninja Duo is 1/2 the price of the Vitamix, this isn’t really so much a competition between the two as it is a mutual agreement between two products that occupy vastly different skews in the market.
With the Ninja Duo, for $199 you get a decent full-sized blender that can handle general tasks, with a Magic Bullet that’s hundreds of times more reliable and powerful. Add that to the super-simple to-go cup screw on lid system and it adds up to a decent investment overall, and one that smoothie connoisseurs definitely shouldn’t miss.
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