Technics SL-1200 MK2 or MK5 would fill the bill exactly. Some, but not I, prefer it to the P3, as well. You also have an upgrade path with the enhancements offered by KAB acoustics.
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Agree w/ the above recommendation - I am one who prefers the Technics to the P3.
Less expensive than the P3
Easy setup/re-setup (experimentation w/ VTA, VTF)
Easy use (start/stop, 33 or 45 w/ a quick push of a button)
Easy cartridge swapping (removeable headshell)
..what's not to like?
01-08-10: SoulbrassYou're not the only one. With a few low-cost tweaks
to the SL12x0 to tame vibration and resonances, it approaches or equals the P3
in the midband resolution and handily beats it in timbre, frequency extension,
pace, pitch accuracy, transients, and bass slam.
Anyway, back to the OP's questions: The Technics SL12x0 series has the
smoothest way to switch speeds anywhere near that price range. The controls
are very smooth and expensive-feeling.
Hmmm, plays 45s, is easy to switch speed, and is belt drive...I'd have to say that you should check out any of the B&O turntables, they fit your specs to a T. And, because the tonearm and cartridge were designed as a "unit", most B&Os can handily out-perform any turntables anywhere near their price. And, to play a 45, you simply lay the 45 on the platter - the B&O will know automatically that you have a 45 on there. Just press Play and you're off!
Plus, it is virtually impossible to scratch a record using a B&O turntable - their effective tip mass is the lowest in the world. And, their MMC1, MMC2, and MMC3 cartridges are VERY good cartridges. The MMC1 is especially good - and very expensive.