The main features of both blenders are outlined in the table above. Here, we will look at them in a little more detail.
~ What’s in the Box?
The Ninja Auto iQ comes with two 24oz cups (one double walled stainless steel and one plastic); a 48oz multi serve bowl; and a 40oz blend and prep bowl. It comes with three sets of blades: Pro extractor blades, Tahoe crushing blades and dull blades. The 2 pronged power cable coils neatly over a cord wrap on the machine.
In contrast, the Vitamix S30 comes with one 20oz cup (insulated) and one 40oz blending container. There is just one set one set of metal blades and a tamper for pushing down thick ingredients. The unit has a 3 pronged power cord.
Design, quality and price
The Vitamix S30 is more than twice the price of the Ninja Auto iQ when purchased new, although reconditioned models are available at a significantly lower cost. The cheaper Ninja machine also comes with a bigger range of cups and blades, which might be enough to swing the decision for some buyers. But the reason for the difference in price can be seen when the build quality and performance of the two machines is examined side by side.
~ Design and Quality
The Ninja Auto iQ is made in China, while the Vitamix is made right here in the USA. While this does not necessarily correlate to quality, it is sometime nice to deal with a company that has kept their production local.
One of the key differences between the two machines can be seen when you examine the build quality. Ninja uses plastic and rubber for their jug connector, drive sockets, and blade connections. The cheap plastic parts are likely to wear quickly and will not be covered under the Ninja’s limited warranty. The more expensive Vitamix uses metal parts, making it a lot more robust and durable.
~ Cups and Bowls
The stainless steel cup that accompanies the Ninja Auto iQ is double insulated and designed to keep a smoothies cold for up to 4 hours. However, the walls of the cup appear quite thin and, in practice, the heat/cold inside does transfer quite quickly to the outside of the cup, making it difficult to hold. Another issue with this cup is the opaque walls which make it difficult to monitor the blending.
The Ninja’s clear plastic cup does not have the double-walled insulation. It seems that this is a case where more is not better: both Ninja cups have their place but neither is really satisfactory on its own. The Vitamix machine comes with a single, clear, double walled insulated cup which really does everything you need it to.
It is also worth noting that the Ninja 48oz multi serve bowl requires filling from the narrow base, rather than the wider top end. It also lacks a pouring spout: not a huge problem but just another little niggle. The design of the Ninja blender as a whole does not make the user experience as easy as it could be.
~ Ease of Use
The control panel on the Ninja comes with a good variety of options; the keypad features a Start/Stop button, alongside Smooth Boost, Extract, Blend, Pulse and Low, and a timer to count down blending times (a useful feature). The Vitamix S30 comes with just one control knob, numbered from 1-10 and with a pulse option, making it much less complex to operate than the Ninja.
The rubber gasket seal is easy to remove from the Vitamix for cleaning, but the seal of the Ninja does not come off easily. This makes thorough cleaning difficult and could lead to contamination over time.
The End Product
When we purchase a blender, what we really want are thick smoothies, delicious hot soups, healthy nut butters and cold, fruity sorbets. So, enough of the technical stuff, it’s time to find out how well these blenders fare in action.
It’s worth mentioning here that both blenders are quite capable of producing some wonderful, delicious smoothies. Choosing ingredients should come easy, as both blenders come with a handy pamphlet of suggested recipes to get you started. But, as every smoothie enthusiast knows, there are some ingredients and mixes which present a challenge to all but the very best blenders.
~ Fruit and Vegetable Smoothies
Both blenders perform well when liquidizing tough veg such as kale and carrots, though the results from the Vitamix were slightly better. Like many cheaper blenders, the Ninja Auto iQ does not process seeds perfectly so fruit smoothies might have a little texture to them: this will bother some users more than others, so is worth noting if you like your smoothies really smooth.
The Vitamix also produces much smoother results with nut butters and frozen fruit sorbets, partly due to the handy tamper which is a great help when processing dryer mixes.
~ Hot Soups
The Ninja machine carries a warning against blending hot liquids so it not suitable for making instant hot soup. It could be used to blend prepared vegetables or chunky stew that has already cooled into a creamy soup for storage and re-heating. But instant hot soup is a no-go with the Ninja. The Vitamix will blend hot liquid into a smooth soup without problems.
Both the Vitamix S30 and the Ninja Auto iQ come with a 5 year warranty from the manufacturer but the terms are a little different.
The 5 year warranty on the Ninja is conditional; you need to buy it from the official website to get the full term. Even then, you will not be covered for wear and tear and the cups, bowl and blades are excluded. Shipping and handling will be your responsibility. Additionally, a claim on the base of the blender will automatically reduce your initial 5 years of cover to 2 years.
The Vitamix offers a slight better deal, with 5 years of cover on everything in the box. They will cover shipping and a claim will not affect the warranty period. This, combined with the superior quality of the parts, means that you can rest assured that you will have a great working blender for a long, long time.
Conclusion: Our Pick
Despite a few nifty features, the clear winner here is the Vitamix S30. It is a high quality, sturdy machine that is backed up by a great 5 year guarantee. Most importantly, it outperforms the Ninja Auto iQ in all areas.
If you need a good blender for basic smoothies then the Ninja Auto iQ will do the job and do it well. But if you want a great blender that will take everything you throw at it and liquidize it into a delicious snack, then the Vitamix S30 is well worth the extra pennies. The high quality build will ensure many years of use, and will make the extra cost seem trivial.