If you already read my previous post about the idea and use of hands-off page turning devices, you’re probably thinking one of two things. “Cool, sign me up!” or “I have a sentimental attachment to my current form of page turning”.
If you are more aligned with the former, read on. If you are more aligned with the latter, refer to my list of Pros of using human page turners.
(that was a joke)
On with the review, shall we?
At this point, some questions you might be asking are 1: which one is right for me, and 2: where is the best place to buy it.
Every musician has different needs. A guitarist isn’t going to need the same equipment a pianist or a flautist. It all really depends on what you will be doing individually, and what you need it to do. Some simply turn the page. Others are capable of activating backtracks, recording, looping and synthesizing.
Your environment (i.e. a living room rug, or a concert stage) can also have an effect on the decision you make.
Maybe if I get enough requests we’ll look at some fancier ones ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, but for now, we are going to be looking at the budget models of each brand.
Below I have mapped out a comprehensible summary of the most prominent models and their pros and cons, giving you the information you need to choose which one is right for you. We’ll discuss iPads and tablets in another post.
Let’s get something out of the way first:
There is some confusion floating around with compatibility of these devices. Let me clarify: to my knowledge none of these devices work with Kindles (except maybe the fireHD). As a rule of thumb, if your device is compatible with Bluetooth keyboards, and the app you are using will receive keyboard arrow commands, then you are good to go. We’ll talk about apps in a future post. If you want to read about tablet mounts for music stands, check out my post here: iPad Music Stand Mounts
The Analysis And Comparison:
My personal favorite, the Airturn PEDpro, is the most compact one on the market, with a max height of less than 0.7″ (1.9cm)
With a 200-hour battery, 6 modes, Bluetooth 4.0, and the smallest dimensions and weight around (4” x 6”, 10x15cm), this thing is easy to carry, easy to use, and easy to love. It turns itself off when your device turns of, saving effort and battery, and paired with it’s fast, seamless setup, this thing is a breeze to operate.
There are no moving parts, so the life expectancy is higher than competing models. However, this can be seen as a con by some, who prefer a more tactile response. This model recently received an improvement in design, fixing some issues, so I can’t actually say how many cons are valid anymore.
While browsing amazon reviews, some claim that the airturn pedpro has a relatively cheap assembly, resulting in breakage under stress. Some also claim that it quit mid-performance. Yikes. There is no way to validate claims in amazon reviews, but they are certainly worth considering.
Pros: Low price, high compatibility, free shipping, compact, lightweight.
Cons: may be unsatisfactory to those who want tactile feedback, lesser battery life
Amazon Rating: 3.5 ⭐
Verdict: This particular model may be more well suited to home practice and casual jam sessions.
Get it now:
The PageFlip Butterfly boasts a rugged design, moving pedals (as opposed to the touch-response of Airturn), and a 1-year battery life. However, those batteries are non-rechargeable AA batteries, which to some would seem a deal breaker.
It still manages to keep a relatively low profile, but its slightly larger and heavier than the airturn. It’s color scheme (black. Just black) blends well with most surroundings. This model 3 modes, and has built-in housing for a USB Bluetooth dongle, which does not come standard, but can be added for an extra $15. A quick google search shows several at half that price, so maybe not the best add-on option.
Some may be concerned the having moving parts would make it noisy, but page turn guarantees silent action. I wish my sustain pedal could boast the same stealth T-T.
In fact, PageFlip stands behind their guarantee of quality products to a fierce degree. If you should for any reason encounter an issue, their service is fast and reliable, and they will work to resolve it.
Pros: rugged, tactile feedback, long battery life, free shipping within Canada and U.S., quality customer service.
Cons: no rechargeable batteries, fewer modes, costs more, larger and heavier.
Amazon Rating: 4.6 ⭐
Verdict: It’s not that much more expensive than the airturn, and you are basically guaranteed a working model with their customer service. Added to its rugged build and reliability, it’s a good deal for any kind of musician.
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This one seems to be popular among guitarists. DonnerDeal seems to be a China-based company, and this is reflected in the weird grammar on the website and the construction (and price) of the Donner Bluetooth pedal. The other two pedals have 1-year warranties, but for this one, I couldn’t find an online manual, and the site just says 30 days. That’s suspicious already.
I also could not find a Video by Donner (also suspicious), so this one, by YouTuber PianoManChuck, will have to do. It comes in multiple color options, something neither the AirTurn nor PageFlip can boast, and looks like it belongs on a stage. It claims a 30-foot Bluetooth range, but only 50 hours battery life.
One thing that this particular pedal does that I haven’t seen on any other model is the double-pedal tap. I have read of complaints, where, because a Bluetooth pedal acts as a keyboard, the virtual keyboard on the tablet will no longer pop up, causing you to need to disconnect the device in order to make spur-of-the-moment changes to your music notes. The Donner pedal has a function, where, upon tapping both pedals simultaneously, the device is temporarily disabled, allowing for the virtual keyboard to be activated again.
I have heard multiple cases of the Bluetooth going out after only a few months, and also several accounts of the construction being cheap and even whole pedals breaking off the main unit. User support seems to be nonexistent on their website, so the only guaranteed refund for faulty products would be to get it from amazon.
Pros: lowest price, professional look, ability to reactivate virtual keyboard.
Cons: lowest quality, shortest battery life
Amazon Rating: 4.1 ⭐
Verdict: This one, although nice-looking, seems to be far too cheaply constructed for my personal taste. It works for a little while, if yo need one right away and you are short on money, or electronically handy and can resolve minor issues.
Get it now:
My personal Recommendation is Pageflip’s Butterfly model. It’s the most expensive, but it has the most value. It’s portable enough, works well, and the biggest selling point, for me at least, is the one-year warranty and 24/7 support. Whichever model you decide works best for your needs, you will be free of the hassle and annoyance of turning pages of music by hand, and that alone is worth a lot.