Breville Die Cast Hemisphere ($300)
This model has the most stylish, ergonomic design of those tested. The glass pitcher fits snugly into the base, and big blades make for effortless blending. The smoothie setting purees fruit in seconds (www.brevilleusa.com).
GE Die Cast ($80)
The simple design—a single dial with just three speeds—makes operating the machine intuitive. The knob was a bit difficult to turn, but the powerful motor, once on, crushes ice to a snowy consistency www.gehousewares.com).
Braun PowerMax MX2050 ($50)
Great value. Makes good smoothies and crushes ice well, leaving just a few chunks. Each of the five speeds has an icon next to it that corresponds to the type of food it blends best (www.braun.com).
Oster Counterforms 2-In-1 Appliance ($90)
Doubles as a food processor, with a six-pointed blade that can be used to chop vegetables. The ingenious reversible motor eliminates the need to stir for complete pureeing (shoposter.com).