I have no doubt that the Vitamix is the best consumer grade blender on the market....but I have a Kitchen Aid 580 blender. Mine is SS, but you can get a plastic one for < $100 on sale. I use it frequently to make smoothies, frozen margaritas, and all things in between. Never met an ice cube nor a seed that it can't crush. I'm not saying that it's every bit as good as a vitamix, but it's good enough for me, and a fraction of the price. I'm a Kitchen Aid snob to a point with a stand mixer, blender, and food processor, and stick blender, but they all work very well.
EDIT: The KitchenAid was Cook's Illustrated (affordable) runner up two reviews ago. Since then there have been complains of leaks, so they dropped in in favour of the Brevill, but mine has been great. It comes with a one year, no questions asked warranty. Just sayin.