When you're out on the road and come across records at a garage sale, it's likely that you'll have to make some blind purchases and hope that you score some gems. If you don't want to wait until you get home or you just can't live without having a turntable with you, you might want to consider a portable turntable.
There are several models of portable turntables out there, each with their own pros and cons. Here's a few that are out there.
Hammacher Schlemmer - $99
Touted as the smallest portable turntable, this model from Hammacher Schlemmer comes in a nice retro-style wood case.
You'll need an outlet to use it so it's not a great choice is you're looking to sample vinyl at garage sales and flea markets. Also, from what I can tell, there's no jack for headphones.
Numark PT01 / PT01USB - $95 to $99
This small turntable from Numark comes with more features for people looking to sample vinyl without power nearby. It can run off of 6 D cell batteries, has an integrated headphone jack / speakers, and it's sized like a record so it can fit nicely in a record bag.
If you need USB connection, go with the PT01USB. It's $99 and the USB connection can come in handy if you are converting vinyl to MP3. Downfall: It's heavy.
ION iPTUSB - $97
Another great choice at the sub $100 price point, the ION iPTUSB is same as the Numark PT01USB and filled a gap on the original PT01 by adding USB. Now that the Numark has a USB model, they're both essentially the same so it's up to you.
Vestax Handy Trax - $150
A great compact turntable that will give you similar features as the ION and Numarks but in a much lighter package. This is my choice for sampling vinyl on the go.
It's good at what it's made for - sampling vinyl on the go.
If you're looking for a compact design, a portable turntable may be the way to go. Remember, you won't get the same build quality that you would find in a traditional turntable and be sure to know how you plan on using it.