I usually use my kitchenaid to make icing. The other day, I was making a small batch of icing for our Christmas cookies, and so I just pulled out my hand beater. The icing was absolutely beautiful -- no air bubbles, smooth as ice. I NEVER have that with my kitchenaid. There's always bubbles. Do you use hand beater or kitchenaid for icing? I have a 6qt, but I don't usually do large batches of icing -- just enough for 1 8" cake.
I personally prefer using a hand mixer but at the same time I have killed three of them. (most recently being last week)