One of the biggest downsides of vinyl is the inconvenience of using it on the go. With the exception of things like the now-defunct Audio-Technica AT727 portable vinyl player, you've pretty much got to lug an entire turntable around for listening to vinyl records anywhere outside of your living room.
The RokBlok is a creative Kickstarter project solution to portable vinyl. It's a small block that rides along your records, serving as both needle and speaker to play back audio. And while it still needs a flat surface to function, it's infinitely more portable than carrying around a full-size turntable.
The idea is very reminiscent of the VW Soundwagon, a miniature vinyl player from Japan that also rides along the top of your records. But while the Soundwagon had to rely on the tinny speaker inside, the RokBlok has Bluetooth, making it possible to use it for decent sound music by way of a connected speaker.
The main concern I have with the RokBlok is the same issue that plagued the Soundwagon — also known as the Vinyl Killer by fans — which is that dragging extra weight around on the top of your records seems like a bad thing when it comes to their continued longevity. RokBlok developer Logan Riley commented to The Verge that the RokBlok was designed with this issue specifically in mind, using rubber wheels and ensuring that the center of gravity does not rest on the needle to prevent widening the grooves. Riley claims to have tested his current prototype on single record “several hundred times” will no ill effects, but it may still be a good idea to be cautious when using the RokBlok on more expensive records.
The RokBlok is available on Kickstarter for an early-bird price of $59 — 40 percent off the intended full retail price of $99. It's estimated to ship in September 2017, but given that this is the first hardware project from a first time company, the usual recommendation to use your best judgement when backing still stands.