Blendtec HP3A Wildside Blender: A Multitasking Blender
The Blendtec HP3A Wildside Blender is NOT the best smoothie-only maker on the market in my opinion.
I use it for my smoothies, but ONLY because it IS a fantastic smoothie maker AND blending SYSTEM. It can perform many functions in your kitchen, especially if you’re interested in migrating to a healthier lifestyle or, you’re already there.
I’ll discuss a couple things that absolutely drive me nuts with this blender and frankly, I’m surprised no one has mentioned them. You’ll want to know…
With the HP3A Wildside you can blend, chop, grind, freeze, cook, hash, crush, mince, dice, mill, purée, and more. It does all that using a combination of 3 HP direct drive motor, high torque, blade speed approaching 28,000 RPMs and a patented jar and blade design. All backed by a 7 year warranty.
As a practical example, I use my high speed blender to not only make the great smoothies, though at times find bits of un-pulverized frozen fruit in my mouth, I also make fresh, sugar free soft-serve ice cream, peanut butter, piping hot soups (yes, that’s right, ONLY using a blender), spreads such as fresh hummus or avocado and some of the best tasting salad dressing I’ve ever had – ALL oil free.
Everything using all natural, whole foods ingredients without chemicals I can’t even pronounce or some form of sugary substitute hidden on many ingredient labels found in your favorite supermarket.
In fact, if your NOT already living a more healthy, whole, fresh food lifestyle or seriously considering moving in that direction and you simply want to make great smoothies whether they be green smoothies or plain fruit smoothies, I would NOT recommend the Blendtec Wildside blender.
Why? It’s simply overkill for your needs. You can find other suitable smoothie makers for less than 1/2 the costs (click here to see some) and be just as happy and healthy.
If on the other hand you want a blender that will be your main go-to appliance and desire to do some of the things I mentioned above, this blender should seriously be considered. It’s one of the best and I feel THE BEST as an overall kitchen blending system.
We’ll explore why I say that later into the article.
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- Patented 4” 2-prong stainless steel blade
- Patented 5-sided 3 Qt (96 Oz) BPA-Free Jar
- 25 pre-programmed cycles, plus 4 programmable cycles
- Digital touchpad controls with Smart-Touch Tec-nology™
- 3 HP (1560 watt) direct-drive motor
- 7 year warranty
- Made in USA
Differences in Blendtec Models
At first glance, it appears there are many different Blendtec models because of all the terminology used – HP3A, Total, Fourside, Wildside, Home, Designer Series, etc, etc. AGHHHHH! How does one makes sense of it all?
Here’s a simple breakdown.
“HP3A”, “Total” and “Designer Series” all refer to the base. Specifically, the design and features of the base. “Fourside” and ‘Wildside” refer only to the jar. There are two different jars offered.
The most popular configurations use different combinations of the above. For instance:
- HP3A Wildside
- HP3A Fourside
- Total Fourside
- Total Wildside
There might even be a “Home” designator in there – which as far as I can tell is meaningless. Perhaps differentiating a home-use model from a commercial model. They each carry different warranties.
But the above words are what you want to pay attention to. And let’s drop the Designer Series from our discussion because frankly, it’s just not that popular of a base.
ALL Blendtec blenders use the same 3 HP, direct drive, 1560 Watt motor regardless of the base you purchase. The only difference between the HP3A and Total base is the way the control panel is configured and operates.
The Total base uses 6 presets of pre-programmed blending cycles and the HP3A base uses 25 presets pre-programmed and four user-programmed blending cycles.
As far as the jars – Fourside and Wildside, the basic difference are this:
Fourside jar features four sides, 64 Oz capacity and a 3” blade.
Wildside jar adds a fifth side (the “wild one” I suppose), 96 Oz capacity and a 4” blade.
Clear as mud right?
Cliff Notes version – two models of bases, two models of jars – four different combinations possible. Everything else you’ll encounter in titles and description are just filler words.
Motor / Blending Speeds
As I touched on above, the motor that comes in the Blendtec HP3A is 3 HP and 1560 Watts. It features a direct drive configuration which simply means there re no gears or pulleys between the motor and the blades in the jar. ALL 3 HP can be directly transferred to the blades, if desired, during a blending cycle.
The motor features incredible torque and is able to spin the 4” blade at speeds up to 29,000 RPM. This all adds up to food that gets pulverized into creamy smooth liquid as well as blended. And it’s in the pulverization that the food’s nutrients get released into the juice and easily absorbed into your body instead of staying in the form of pulp which takes more effort to break down once drank.
The control panel features 4 presets buttons, pulse, start/stop, select cycle menu and speed up/speed down buttons.
This review won’t dig deeply into all the control panel’s functions because frankly, it’s a tad bit confusing. I’ll instead give a brief overview and my impressions.
The four presets buttons come factory programmed as Multi-Use (low speed), Smoothies, Mixed Drinks and Whole Juice. The pulse button can be used on it’s own or during the middle of a blending cycle if manual control is needed. The start/stop and select cycle menu is used to select one of the 25 pre-programmed blend cycles and the speed up/done buttons allow 10 manually selected speeds.
By selecting any of the pre-programmed blend cycles, the motor will automatically speed up and slow down at different times of the blending cycle in order to give you the best quality finished product it can and then it will shut itself off. Nice.
Supposedly the HP3A’s control panel is an improvement over the Blendtec Total model but frankly, 25 presets are simply too many choices for this guy’s liking. Sorry Blendtec. Not only that, but there are too many button combinations required to reach each of these presets unless you have them programmed into one of the 4 presets buttons shown above (these buttons can each be reprogrammed from the factory settings).
To access the 25 pre-programmed blend cycles you’ll have to navigate through menus displayed on the LCD panel using the four buttons on the right side of the control panel – start/stop, select cycle menu, and speed up/speed down.
I prefer the one-touch buttons and 6 presets of the Total model but of course, you’re mileage and likes may vary. Fortunately, the Smoothie setting is already pre-programmed into one of the 4 presets on the control panel (#2 to be exact).
The Blendtec HP3A Wildside dimensions are 7″ wide x 8″ deep x 15.5″ tall. The overall height will easily allow you to slide the blender under your cabinets.
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Container & Base Info
The Wildside container holds 96 Oz of liquid as compared to 64 Oz of the Fourside jar yet the overall height of the two models are the same because the Wildside blender is wider instead of taller. A nice design consideration.
The Wildside comes with a 4” blade which is permanently sealed to the jar so you never have to worry about seals holding the blade assembly leaking. The 1” longer blade means the blade tips are spinning faster and thus able to create a more powerful vortex pulling the contents into the blades better.
The blade shaft which extends from the bottom of the jar is metal, so is the shaft drive socket located on the base.
The blades are blunt-edged vs. a sharp cutting edge as in most blenders. The blunt blades smash into the foods, pulverizing them instead of slicing through them. This smashing breaks down the cell walls and helps to release the nutrients into the juice rather than staying in the pulp.
By adding a small, fifth side to the jar Blendtec feels even more turbulence is created vs. the Fourside jar and thus the chance of cavitation occurring (an air pocket forming just above the blade preventing the jar contents from being pulled into the blades) is minimized.
The whole concept of Blendtec’s square jars vs. round jars of other blender makers is this – a round jar causes the contents to swirl around in the jar where hopefully blade design creates a vortex and the contents are forced down and through the blades eventually.
The square design of the Wildside jar creates turbulence as the contents are being blended and a vortex is forming. Think of waves crashing into a rocky shoreline. This turbulence helps to blend the contents more quickly since there’s no swirling occurring initially.
This design makes the Blendtec best in class at blending quickly (very!) and efficiently. A word of caution however: if you tend to fill you jar “to the max” when making a batch of smoothies like I do (otherwise, for a single serving, I use my Back to Basics Smoothie Express), you might find small, un-blended pieces of fruit in your finished smoothie.
Same say the Wildside jar also reduces the noise factor over the Fourside jar which is a huge benefit. From personal experience this is like saying standing 50’ away from a jetliner screaming just before take-off is quieter than standing 20’ away. True, but I doubt that you’ll notice it much.
There’s not another blender sold on the market that is louder than the Fourside jar. One user described it as using a leaf blower on full power inside your home. Many users actually wear earplugs the Fourside is so loud.
Another nice feature of the jar are the smooth sides. Not only do they aide in cleanup but enable thick spreads and dressings to be scraped out MUCH easier than round jars with indentations (these indentations by the way are break up the swirling affect in round(ish) jars by creating some sense of turbulence in the spinning liquid).
The lid has a 2” square plug that can be pulled out to add additional ingredients while blending if desired. This plug also vents steam during soup making. Because the contents tend to get flung all over the jar while blending, the lid WILL get VERY messy during your smoothie making sessions. And, if like me, you fill the jar up with your smoothie contents, you’ll have some of it on TOP of the lid as well. Read the next section for clarification.
Lastly the Wildside jar is top-rack dishwasher safe. Only problem is, it won’t fit on the top rack IF you plan on closing the rack afterwards – it’s too tall. Fortunately, cleanup is easy with a quick rinse or by adding a couple cups of water and a few drops of dishwashing soap and running the blender several seconds.
The base is the same size and design as the Total model so it’s easy to find a spot on the countertop for a home. I do wish Blendtec would get away from the cheap-looking plastic base and add a bit of cast and heft. I believe it would help the noise factor a bit.
The power switch is located on the back of the 7 Lb base which adds to the overall clean, contemporary look of the Blendtec HP3A. And the base sits on rubber feet approximately 1” in diameter.
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Use & Cleanup
Using the Blendtec HP3A Wildside is at times, a frustrating experience for me discounting the noise issue.
I’ve already covered in the container section above how well the blender blends the contents. If you’re not maxing the ounces out, this blender ranks right up there at the top as far as speed and quality of blend.
Blendtec really did there homework and combined high power, high speed, and both great blade and jar designs to come up with a top-notch blending system. This in spite of my feelings of the “improved” control panel (NOT!) and the gazillion pre-programmed settings available.
As I stated before, things change if your plan is to get anywhere near the 96 Oz capacity of the jar when making your green smoothies. You really need to be careful of the lid. The lid doesn’t seal tightly against the jar nor does the plastic stopped inserted into the lid seal.
blowout 3 web 800x600Twice I’ve had a “lid blowout” during a blend cycle when I have filled the jar to almost capacity when making my smoothies, pressed the smoothie button and dared to walk a few feet away to do something else while the Blendtec ran through it’s Smoothie cycle.
The speed and torque of the motor pushed the contents up against the lid and forced it to give up its seal on the jar! Instant smoothie volcano until the power is shut down.
The second time it happened I got this picture however, the fist occurrence was a bigger mess with the seal breaking on front AND backsides. Fortunately, everything is sealed on the front panel so cleanup was pretty quick, but still – on a $400+ blender?
The second issue I have when blending with a nearly full jar is the plastic stopper inserted into the middle of the lid does not seal. The contents will come up through the stopper and sit in the recessed lid.
When I’m done blending, I either pitch the few ounces of blend sitting IN the lid (uh-uh) or, take a spatula and “sweep” the contents through the lid opening back into the jar. This of course occurs even with me pushing on the lid while blending – something I do for ALL my blending jobs now thank-you very much.
These issues aren’t show stoppers, but they are a pain in the butt for such an otherwise GREAT blender and again, for the price this puppy costs. I guess I was spoiled by my Vitamix – no matter how full the jar and the speed setting, I never had an issue with the lid losing its seal.lid overflow 1 web Just be forewarned when making your first “high capacity” smoothie.
And I must say, the Blendtec IS the better total blending system if you’re going to make not only smoothies but also use the blender for ice cream, nut butters, spreads, and dips. I say this for two reasons: the smooth, square design of the jar makes getting the aforementioned items OUT of the jar and the Blendtec Twister Jar – which I LOVE. More on those in another article.
The Smoothie button does blends up a great green smoothie in about 25 seconds, whereas most other blender models I’ve tested might be able to blend up a plain fruit smoothie using their Smoothie button but not a green smoothie. There’s just to much work to do pulverizing all those leafy greens and stems usually. Not so with the Blendtec.
Provided you load the jar properly AND HOLD ON, everything should blend up quickly the first time around of a blend cycle. Some users report having to run the smoothie cycle a second time to thoroughly blend up all the frozen fruit – and this may be true if using large frozen strawberries for instance – but in most cases, a single cycle is plenty.
Pouring the contents out is nice because you can use any of the 3 available corners to pour out of. There’s really no need to have a dedicated pour spout since the jar is square. A minor point perhaps but very welcomed when trying to pour out 96 ounces and several pounds of liquid, you can use a few different hand and arm positions instead of just one.
Cleanup is easy as I also mentioned, except for the top-rack dishwasher snafu, and the base cleans up with a few passes of a damp rag. The control buttons are all sealed and only when liquid spills into the display area will you have any difficulty cleaning the entire unit up.
Overall, I don’t think you’ll have any complaints in using this blender after getting accustomed to the presets and it’s quarks.
There are no blending accessories included with the Blendtec HP3A Wildside but, you do get a decent spiral bound cookbook that features 10 sections:
- Appetizers (Dips, Jams, Salsas, Spreads)
- Beverages (Cocktails, Coffee, Milkshakes, Milk Substitutes, Smoothies, Whole Juices)
- Breakfast (Batters, Syrups)
- Breads (Bread Batters, Bread Dough)Soups
- Salad Dressings
- Pureed Foods
- Desserts (Cakes, Ice Cream, Pies, Puddings, Miscellaneous Desserts
Each recipe is complete with nutritional guidelines as well as which pre-programmed blending cycle to use to help you get acquainted with the whole pre-programmed setup.
All in all, a very nice addition.
- green stoplight
- Smooth side square jar is easy to get contents out
- Digital controls
- Jar design is top notch
- Contemporary styling Looks good
- Space saving design
- Easy cleanup
- Blends quickly
- Performs many functions – grind, kneed dough, hot soups, ice cream, nut butters
- yellow stoplight
- Non-sealing lid
- Somewhat confusing pre-programmed user interface
- Cheap, lightweight base – will move around a bit during blending
- Lid gets really messy – top and bottom during use
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