I've talked to lots of turners. Most of them say that if you want a mini lathe, go with the Ricon. Why? Steel handles everywhere, no plastic. And Woodcraft puts them on sale for $200 once in a while.
If you want variable speed, get a 3-phase motor and a variable frequency drive. Then, when you get rid of your little lathe for a bigger one, you can keep the 3-phase motor and vfd for your next one, and the original motor will have very little use.
Before you make up your mind, though, go to a couple of local woodturners meetings, ask them questions, and take a class. Use both multi-speed and variable-speed machines. Get used to using both, and see which you like more, and determine for yourself if the difference in cost is worth it to you.