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Vitamix High-Speed Blenders - Are They Worth It?


clayrae
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I have no intention of giving up my omnivorous lifestyle, but have recently come across some "raw food" recipes that sounded kinda interesting. And more fruits and vegetables couldn't hurt, right?

What could hurt is spending $400 on a Vitamix high speed blender and then discovering that I'm not actually interested in more fruits and vegetables.

Anyone have thoughts about these? Is a "high speed' blender necessary? Is it possible to get a used one for cheap(er)?

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I have no intention of giving up my omnivorous lifestyle, but have recently come across some "raw food" recipes that sounded kinda interesting. And more fruits and vegetables couldn't hurt, right?

What could hurt is spending $400 on a Vitamix high speed blender and then discovering that I'm not actually interested in more fruits and vegetables.

Anyone have thoughts about these? Is a "high speed' blender necessary? Is it possible to get a used one for cheap(er)?

A Vitamix blender is not a gadget. It is perhaps the most frequently used machine in my kitchen. The people who do on-site demos make smoothies and "soups" made from raw vegetables, but for a serious cook, these sorts of uses are irrelevant. This is the same machine that Starbucks uses to make frappucinos. High-end restaurants use it for making silky smooth pureed soups, fruit or vegetable coulis, mayonnaise and aioli. I also use mine for making vinaigrette, pancake and crepe batter, mango lassi, fresh chutneys, tomatillo and roasted tomato salsas and home-made masa. Summer is almost here, and I'll be using it to make sorbet out of frozen fruit--there isn't any other machine that can grind ice into such an amazingly smooth sorbet. To me, it's one of those "how did I ever live without this?" appliances.

I'd be very surprised if you can find one used, since they are so useful and last forever, although it certainly wouldn't hurt to check e-bay.

edited to add: last night, I made a silky smooth baba ghanouj. I'd forgotten that I also use my Vitamix to make homemade hummus. It does a better job than the Cuisinart.

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I also use mine for making vinaigrette, pancake and crepe batter, mango lassi, fresh chutneys, tomatillo and roasted tomato salsas and home-made masa. Summer is almost here, and I'll be using it to make sorbet out of frozen fruit--there isn't any other machine that can grind ice into such an amazingly smooth sorbet. To me, it's one of those "how did I ever live without this?" appliances.

edited to add: last night, I made a silky smooth baba ghanouj. I'd forgotten that I also use my Vitamix to make homemade hummus. It does a better job than the Cuisinart.

Nora, can you post your masa Vitamix recipe?

Saturday we bought the last Vitamix 5200 at the Springfield Costco in-store promotion ($349 including recipe book, no shipping costs) but only made a smoothie yet, still a little intimidated by it. After researching, was bemused to find that for $499 we could have got the exact same model with a different face plate from the Culinary Institute of America, but instead of the Vitamix recipe book it would have the CIA recipe book, "Recipes from the Master Chefs", which looks a lot better but not $150 better.

But I do want that recipe book.

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Nora, can you post your masa Vitamix recipe?

Saturday we bought the last Vitamix 5200 at the Springfield Costco in-store promotion ($349 including recipe book, no shipping costs

I also purchased mine during an in-store promotion at Costco.

To make masa, I use the separate grain and flour grinding jar--the blade is different, somehow. You can certainly try it with the regular blender jar. First, you have to get some field corn, the kind used to make cornmeal. Then cook a couple of cups of it, covered by about two inches of water, with two or three tablespoons of cal, which you can find in most Latin markets--it's builder's lime, a powerful alkili which gelatinizes the outside of the corn kernels. You don't cook the corn all the way through, just for about 30-45 minutes or so. Then you rinse and scrub the kernels under running water, rubbing off all of the gooey hulls. Rub the corn in a towel to dry off much of the water. Then--turn the Vitamix on high and start adding the corn kernels through the opening in the top. Empty it out periodically, as the corn is ground so that there is not a big amount clogging the blade. Once it is all ground, you'll have to add water or stock to make it into a dough to use for making tortillas or tamales.

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Functionally speaking, does the dry blade jar allow you to do the same things as with a standard food processor?


I'm not sure how to answer this--I haven't used the dry blade jar for anything that I make in my food processor, just for grinding grains. By "standard food processor" I am assuming you mean my Cuisinart. You can grind dry things in the Cuisinart, but you won't be able to mill anything as finely as the Vitamix does. The function of the Vitamix dry blade jar is to make flour from whole grains. The Cuisinart has many possible functions, but some of what it can do is not as good as what a Vitamix can do. I wouldn't make dough, or shred semi-soft cheese, or make guacamole in the Vitamix-I use the Cuisinart for those. But the Vitamix (regular jar, not the dry jar) does a better job of making silky smooth purees and soups, mayonnaise, sauces and cooked salsas, coulis, smoothies, ground ices and sorbets.
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I'm not sure how to answer this--I haven't used the dry blade jar for anything that I make in my food processor, just for grinding grains. By "standard food processor" I am assuming you mean my Cuisinart. You can grind dry things in the Cuisinart, but you won't be able to mill anything as finely as the Vitamix does. The function of the Vitamix dry blade jar is to make flour from whole grains. The Cuisinart has many possible functions, but some of what it can do is not as good as what a Vitamix can do. I wouldn't make dough, or shred semi-soft cheese, or make guacamole in the Vitamix-I use the Cuisinart for those. But the Vitamix (regular jar, not the dry jar) does a better job of making silky smooth purees and soups, mayonnaise, sauces and cooked salsas, coulis, smoothies, ground ices and sorbets.

Sorry for not being clearer. One of the reasons I'm considering the Vita-Mix is that it appears to fulfill the dual function of blender and food processor. I understand that it can do a lot of things that the Cuisinart can't, but can it do most of the things for which one would use the Cuisinart? It sounds like the Vita-Mix isn't good for dough or guacamole, I'm okay with that. But if there are many more food processor-esque tasks that it can't do, I'd have to reconsider the purchase.

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can it do most of the things for which one would use the Cuisinart?

A Vita-Mix is a powerful blender. A Cuisinart is more versatile, in that in addition to being able to chop, grind and puree with the knife blade, it has separate blades for slicing and shredding, and also has a dough blade. If you have neither machine and can only get one, and plan on using it for a variety of cooking tasks, I'd invest in a powerful Cuisinart. They have just come out with a new model--details in this NY Times review. If I hadn't replaced my old Cuisinart recently, I'd be in the market for one of these:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/16/dining/16cuisinart.html?_r=1&ref=dining

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Sorry for not being clearer. One of the reasons I'm considering the Vita-Mix is that it appears to fulfill the dual function of blender and food processor. I understand that it can do a lot of things that the Cuisinart can't, but can it do most of the things for which one would use the Cuisinart? It sounds like the Vita-Mix isn't good for dough or guacamole, I'm okay with that. But if there are many more food processor-esque tasks that it can't do, I'd have to reconsider the purchase.

I consider a Cuisinart to be more like a necessity, and a Vita-Mix like a luxury.

But I like things on the chunky side, and I prefer Cuisinart pie crust to any other method. Also like it for pesto and other preparations that use herbs, oil, nuts, etc. Also good for shredding cheese.

My favorite salad dressing is made in the Cuisinart, with lots of garlic and parmesan cheese. It would probably be at least as good in a Vita-Mix. Haven't tried it yet.

I think the Cuisinart is no good for chopping onions. I have seen the instructions for using Vita-Mix for chopping onions but so far am sticking to the old fashioned method.

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A Vita-Mix is a powerful blender. A Cuisinart is more versatile, in that in addition to being able to chop, grind and puree with the knife blade, it has separate blades for slicing and shredding, and also has a dough blade. If you have neither machine and can only get one, and plan on using it for a variety of cooking tasks, I'd invest in a powerful Cuisinart. They have just come out with a new model--details in this NY Times review. If I hadn't replaced my old Cuisinart recently, I'd be in the market for one of these:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/16/dining/16cuisinart.html?_r=1&ref=dining

The pouring-without-the-blades-coming-off feature is a winner in my book. I permanently damaged my right foot by dropping a brand new Cuisinart blade on it and causing a horrendous gash. I will spare you the details, except to say that I have permanent loss of circulation due to the wound. I can't imagine a Vita-Mix causing permanent damage unless you stuck your hand into it -- I actually did sever the tip of a finger in a blender about 40 years ago so I don't dismiss this as impossible, just unlikely if you are using your brain.

I also slammed a sliding closet door on my head once, to give you an idea of my competence!

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Mr. MV picked up Old Bay-seasoned pick and peel shrimp from WF on his way home. We enjoyed the shrimp while I grilled up some steak for an entree salad with a tomato and feta dressing that I whipped up in my new Vitamix 5200! (my Costco rebate check was burning a whole in my pocket)

Congratulations! The Costco Vitamix demos focus on smoothies and the magic of making hot soup with raw ingredients without cooking, but there's so much more that you can do with this machine. At some point, you might want to consider investing in the grain mill jar, since you do so much baking. Fresh-ground flour made with whole grains or beans is amazingly flavorful. In addition to salad dressings, try sorbet made with frozen fruit. Iced coffee. Silky-smooth veg, and hot & cold soup purees, mayonnaise sauces, cooked salsa made with roasted veg. Chunky stuff I do in the food processor (guacamole, pico de gallo), but I seem to use my Vitamix for something every day.

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Congratulations! The Costco Vitamix demos focus on smoothies and the magic of making hot soup with raw ingredients without cooking, but there's so much more that you can do with this machine. At some point, you might want to consider investing in the grain mill jar, since you do so much baking. Fresh-ground flour made with whole grains or beans is amazingly flavorful. In addition to salad dressings, try sorbet made with frozen fruit. Iced coffee. Silky-smooth veg, and hot & cold soup purees, mayonnaise sauces, cooked salsa made with roasted veg. Chunky stuff I do in the food processor (guacamole, pico de gallo), but I seem to use my Vitamix for something every day.

Thanks Zora! I've been considering purchasing a Vitamix for over a year, so when I saw this affable Southern lady enthusiastically demonstrating the Vitamix at Costco, I was immediately drawn in.

Regarding the grain mill jar, do you mean a separate jar with the dry grinding blades? I found this on Amazon and wondered if this is what you are mentioning.

I am very excited to get in "Vitamixing" and using this blender for much more than smoothies. I really like the nutritional aspect and all of the possibilities it holds. I'll tell you, the first time I flipped the switch I was amazed at the power!

I hope through this thread, we can share our experiences, ideas and recipes so that I can learn just how many ways to use my Vitamix.

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Just so happens I ordered the Vitamix "Create Recipes" DVD and cookbook about 2 hours ago. I feel it was overpriced at $50, but so far I have a very poor touch using my Vitamix. Hummus and salsa are about the only things I do well, besides soups. Hemingway Daiquiris need some refining. Sorbets fail miserably. The recipes and youtubes I've seen are all not very helpful.

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Regarding the grain mill jar, do you mean a separate jar with the dry grinding blades? I found this on Amazon and wondered if this is what you are mentioning.

I have an older model, and the shape is different, but yes, that's what I mean. The price has also gone up considerably since I bought mine. I paid around $80 for the grain-grinding jar.
I'll tell you, the first time I flipped the switch I was amazed at the power!
That size motor can run a tablesaw, so I often say that the Vitamix can puree plywood.
I hope through this thread, we can share our experiences, ideas and recipes so that I can learn just how many ways to use my Vitamix.
They also have great customer service. I had originally bought the grain mill jar because the book said that the Vitamix can be used to make masa. When I tried it using nixtamal that I had made myself, which was moist from being cooked with cal, the blade would bind up. When I called customer service and described the problem, I was told to drop the corn kernels in from the top while the motor was running. Genius!
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Costco in Fairfax (and others?) has the 5200 for sale for $394. I know it's not cheap, but the typical going rate is around $450 at online sources. It comes with a cookbook AND a DVD. I know, right! It's very exciting :) They've also got separate dry and liquid blending containers for about $90 each.

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High-end restaurants use it for making silky smooth pureed soups

I've been making a lot of pureed soups lately and my Cuisinart processor and Kitchen-Aid blender are just not getting the job done in creating a 'silky smooth' puree. Will the Vita-Mix solve this problem?

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I've been making a lot of pureed soups lately and my Cuisinart processor and Kitchen-Aid blender are just not getting the job done in creating a 'silky smooth' puree. Will the Vita-Mix solve this problem?

Yes. You can just about puree a 2x4 with the thing.

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Costco in Fairfax (and others?) has the 5200 for sale for $394. I know it's not cheap, but the typical going rate is around $450 at online sources. It comes with a cookbook AND a DVD. I know, right! It's very exciting :) They've also got separate dry and liquid blending containers for about $90 each.

Ok, I'm sold! Does anyone know if this deal is available at all Costcos, or only select ones? I don't want to make a pre-Christmas trip to my local Costco (Gaithersburg), only to discover it was for nothing.

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Yeah if there's one thing it will do, it's make that puree silky smooth. They have techniques for rough chops that don't work so well for me, but soups are right up its alley.

For those who really don't want to spend that kind of money for Vitamix, don't forget the more labor-intensive but reliable method for silky soups: run it through your cheapo blender and pass it through a fine-mesh sieve. It works, people.

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For those who really don't want to spend that kind of money for Vitamix, don't forget the more labor-intensive but reliable method for silky soups: run it through your cheapo blender and pass it through a fine-mesh sieve. It works, people.

I have to disagree, I have tried every sort of way to make a silky smooth white bean puree doing exactly what you say, and even taken the time to put the puree through progressively finer sieves, but I have yet to get the right texture. I know it is possible, just not using the tools I currently have at hand.

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The thing has paid for itself for the amount of hummus I now make. The DVD I have is somewhat useless but the cookbook gives me good ideas.

I don't think the Vitamix is that versatile a tool; rough chops, grinding ice, and basically making any finished product that isn't silky smooth is better left to other tools. But I would say it is indispensable in my kitchen.

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Ok, I'm sold! Does anyone know if this deal is available at all Costcos, or only select ones? I don't want to make a pre-Christmas trip to my local Costco (Gaithersburg), only to discover it was for nothing.

In my Costco experience, you can't assume all stores have the same products.

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Ok, I'm sold! Does anyone know if this deal is available at all Costcos, or only select ones? I don't want to make a pre-Christmas trip to my local Costco (Gaithersburg), only to discover it was for nothing.

It's usually just sold during a "road show" which happens at different times at different stores. I would call before going.

Having used the Vita-Mix over 10 years, in restaurants, it is an incredible machine to have in the kitchen. Easily my favorite.

I know several people who have one at home and swear by it - they claim to use it every single day.

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It's usually just sold during a "road show" which happens at different times at different stores. I would call before going.

Thanks for the tip, Tom. I just called the Gburg store and learned that it's going on there through Sunday. I'll be first in line when they open in the morning :)

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I have to disagree, I have tried every sort of way to make a silky smooth white bean puree doing exactly what you say, and even taken the time to put the puree through progressively finer sieves, but I have yet to get the right texture. I know it is possible, just not using the tools I currently have at hand.

Ditto. Our efforts previously using the food processor and pushing through a strainer did not achieve the same silky texture as the Vitamix. Mr. Squids made some chestnut soup yesterday that was thick, sweet, silky smooth and pretty darn tasty. We've also had success with broccoli soup, sometimes adding carrot for extra flavor, and spinach to keep the bright green color. He also made a delicious roasted cauliflower soup for my birthday dinner. Smoothies are also a winner (Mr. S has better success with those than I do, though.)

Our Vitamix was on loan from my in-laws---it was discovered when we were cleaning out their house for an upcoming move to Riderwood. Seven years old, never opened, never used. Still works perfectly. We were probably going to invest in the Costco one for ourselves, but my MIL recently told us we can just keep hers. :)

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Recently did the same to leftover smashed yams and parsnips-just added a bit of chicken stock.

I thinned it out with water, since the dish started out vegetarian and my veggie daughter was going to eat some. I added a dollop of creme fraiche to smooth the edges (would have used yogurt, but didn't have any).

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I finally had reason to break out my Vitamix, I made a beer and cheddar soup that was good, but the texture was wrong and no amount of whisking was making it right. I dumped it into the blender, brought it up to high, and what a change. The soup before blending was rather dull looking, and was tasty, but not rich; however, after blending the soup was light in color, and suddenly had a rich cheese flavor. I was simply hoping to change the texture, I was pleasantly surprised by the change in flavor.

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I finally had reason to break out my Vitamix, I made a beer and cheddar soup that was good, but the texture was wrong and no amount of whisking was making it right. I dumped it into the blender, brought it up to high, and what a change. The soup before blending was rather dull looking, and was tasty, but not rich; however, after blending the soup was light in color, and suddenly had a rich cheese flavor. I was simply hoping to change the texture, I was pleasantly surprised by the change in flavor.

Would you mind posting the recipe? I have not liked the last 2 that I tried.

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Would you mind posting the recipe? I have not liked the last 2 that I tried.

There really was no recipe, and actually, I was going only on description as I have never had beer and cheddar soup before. First, I started by caramelizing an onion - deglazed with some Sailor Jerry rum. I put the onions into the blender with about a cup of homemade stock, whizzed it up until smooth (next time I would put simply add two cups of stock to the onions, reduce it to one cup and strain) – I did this because the recipes that I read researching the soup called for either an onion or mirepoix and I was looking for a smooth texture. I placed the puree back into a pot and reduced it by half (again I would skip this step because the stock would have reduced with the onions). I added 2 tablespoons of premade dark roux (I am not sure why I waited so long to make a big batch of this to stash in the fridge) and dissolved it in the reduced puree. Then added two cups of whole milk and a large bottle of Fuller's ESB Beer (I would change the beer to something more malty and less bitter), I cooked this until it was just short of the thickness I wanted, I then took it off the heat and slowly stirred in the grated cheddar (I used a truckle of white cheddar I found at Trader Joe's and I would certainly use it again). I adjusted the seasoning and then added it to the blender and mixed on high for about a minute. I brought it back to temperature.

Topped with crispy bacon, this was the perfect way to celebrate my Packers beating the Iggles to move on to round 2.

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I finally had reason to break out my Vitamix, I made a beer and cheddar soup that was good, but the texture was wrong and no amount of whisking was making it right. I dumped it into the blender, brought it up to high, and what a change. The soup before blending was rather dull looking, and was tasty, but not rich; however, after blending the soup was light in color, and suddenly had a rich cheese flavor. I was simply hoping to change the texture, I was pleasantly surprised by the change in flavor.

Yesterday, I watched the YouTube video that Joe H posted, of Roberto Donna making his parmesan budino in a Vitamix. The video is recommended for those who still wonder why anyone would pay a premium to own a Vitamix, when there are so many cheaper blenders out there. The Vitamix is in just about every high-end restaurant kitchen out there, the same basic machine that is sold for home use. The difference? The commercial version is in a metal housing, the home version's housing is plastic; the motor and speed controls are the same in both. If you want your sauce, puree, soup (or budino) to be really smooth or emulsified, get a Vitamix.

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Yesterday, I watched the YouTube video that Joe H posted, of Roberto Donna making his parmesan budino in a Vitamix. The video is recommended for those who still wonder why anyone would pay a premium to own a Vitamix, when there are so many cheaper blenders out there. The Vitamix is in just about every high-end restaurant kitchen out there, the same basic machine that is sold for home use. The difference? The commercial version is in a metal housing, the home version's housing is plastic; the motor and speed controls are the same in both. If you want your sauce, puree, soup (or budino) to be really smooth or emulsified, get a Vitamix.

Well put. Plus it's a breeze to clean!

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Plus it's a breeze to clean!

Now if it would only dry itself it would be damn near perfect.

Sthitch have you tried spin drying? As powerful as the motor gets, and as hot as the soups can get, I can see hand toweling the exterior, hand toweling the top interior half, and then spinning it on high with the lid off for a couple of minutes. Expected result: bone dry. Just wonderin'.

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Whole Foods in Old Town Alexandria is having a Vitamix event this weekend, Friday January 14 - Sunday January 16. Today they had someone demonstrating the regular Vitamix (which I have) making green smoothies. When queried about dry container she confirmed that it will be available this weekend.

I have been making a lot of green smoothies lately, including chopping up whole peeled raw carrots into smithereens, effortlessly. You do need to put in some kind of liquid for a drinkable smoothie, whether it's water or juice. I like low sodium V-8 for a vegetable smoothie and soy milk for a fruit smoothie. But that's just me.

You can incorporate any vegetables, nuts or fruits into a Vitamix smoothie, be it chunks of fresh coconut, whole almonds, whole cashews, whole carrots, celery stalks, dried fruit or much easier things like greens, whole tomatoes, fresh fruit, sprouts, tofu. Zoom!

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Whole Foods in Old Town Alexandria is having a Vitamix event this weekend, Friday January 14 - Sunday January 16. Today they had someone demonstrating the regular Vitamix (which I have) making green smoothies. When queried about dry container she confirmed that it will be available this weekend.

I have been making a lot of green smoothies lately, including chopping up whole peeled raw carrots into smithereens, effortlessly. You do need to put in some kind of liquid for a drinkable smoothie, whether it's water or juice. I like low sodium V-8 for a vegetable smoothie and soy milk for a fruit smoothie. But that's just me.

You can incorporate any vegetables, nuts or fruits into a Vitamix smoothie, be it chunks of fresh coconut, whole almonds, whole cashews, whole carrots, celery stalks, dried fruit or much easier things like greens, whole tomatoes, fresh fruit, sprouts, tofu. Zoom!

Looks like the WF in Silver Spring will be hosting the even Wed Jan 17-Sun Jan 23.

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Where are you finding the prices? The websites for both the Alexandria and SS store don't have this info, at least that I can find.

I'm just going on what I've seen at previous in-store demos. I think they run around $450 at WF (at least $100 more than at the Costco events, per other posters on this thread).

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