Corby, the JVC QL-5 is nice but not as good as the QL-7. The later automatic tables that uses coreless motor like the QL-Y66F, QL-Y7, QL-F6, are just as good and added a touch of smoothness in the texture and presentation. The QL-7 has better drive possibly due to its higher torque core motor. The QL-7 is very under-rated and under the radar. And it's quite fine by me and let everyone jump on those Technics.
As for Kenwood, only two models below the flagship L-07D for me are worth bothering: the KD-770D and KD-990 (KP-1100
in Japan), as both use very nice coreless motors and employ beautifully constructed tonearms. The KD-770D is a great sounding DD table that can compete with a belt-drive table in the fluidity and smoothness department. Nothing is perfect, it does lack the momentous drive like some Technics tables but still precise enough sounding without the graininess.
Don_c55, I agree that the SP-25 can hold its own against the SP-10Mk2. I have an SP-15 and after I sold all three of my SP-10Mk2 tables and keeping one SP-15, I don't miss the SP-10 much. I still have several Technics tables and still enjoy them tremendously but the SL-1200Mk2 is not one of them. Seriously, there are SO many direct-drive turntables of various brands in the used market other than the SL-1200 that one can get them for cheap and with a little tweaking, they provide long term enjoyment without hassle and audiophiliac insecurity - let 'em keep those Scottish appleboxes.