Five years into this “thing” called iPad, there are certain apps and accessories which have become “the standard” in the market. These are apps that are on my home screen (first page), not in a folder, and accessories I have with me every time I use my iPad.
One of the standard items in my bag has been the AirTurn BT-105, a Bluetooth page turning pedal. Two years ago, I had a PageFlip page turner, and AirTurn arranged for me to have their device. The PageFlip was more affordable than the BT-105 and worked fine, but there is no question that the AirTurn was the higher quality device, in terms of build quality. Think ASUS versus Apple.
No device is perfect, and there are some elements of the AirTurn BT-105 that I didn't love. None of them are deal breakers, but they should be acknowledged. First, the wires on the top of the unit, which connect the BT-105 core unit to the pedals, were exposed out of necessity, and they criss-cross each other when plugged in. This is the least attractive element of the device. On more than one occasion, these would disconnect as I removed the device (they would get caught on something else in my bag), and I could see how some users could accidentally plug their pedals into the wrong plug. Second, the AirTurn BT-105 has one button for all of its programming. It is amazing what one button can do, but if you don't have the manual with you, you have to go to the Internet to figure out what to do. Finally, the BT-105 has a larger USB Port (I believe it is the mini version) while all my other USB charging devices are lightning or micro USB. I don't expect a lightning charger for any device other than an Apple device, but having to bring a special cable for the BT-105 was a bit of a disappointment. As a “bonus” complaint, you could make a case that the BT-105 (with 2 pedals) was expensive at $119.95; but then again, you get what you pay for (in quality), and you could often find “refurbished” units at AirTurn.com for under $100.
If you read through that paragraph again, that is really detailed and non-essential whining. The BT-105 has been rugged, reliable, and long-lasting for me over these two years.
AirTurn hasn't been dormant since creating the BT-105. They have released a series of devices, including a multi-function controller called the Digit, four-pedal devices, and AirTurn products that allow drummers to change pages with a drumstick hit. You can see the whole line-up of devices at AirTurn.com.
One of the music technology bloggers that I follow recently posted about the AirTurn PED, a device that starts shipping on February 17th. I immediately reached out to AirTurn and asked if I could get a demonstration model to work with. They were kind enough to send me a model to review.
So here's the big question: if you already have the best page turner, along with the biggest vareity of pedals and accessories, why would you come out with a whole new page tuner? After a couple of weeks with the device, here's why:
- A smaller and lighter device that is easier to bring around.
- A fully contained device with no exposed wires.
- Use of the latest low energy Bluetooth protocols, including being able to create functions that allow the device to easily connect to specific AirTurn enabled apps. (PED-App-Direct)
- New buttons and indicators that make the device easier to use.
- Due to new Bluetooth standards, to be able to use a CR2032 battery which gives months of use instead of having to recharge the device (and also provide a spare battery).
- I believe the PED has a longer warranty (up to a year)
- Oh…and come in at a price point of $69.95.
At the moment, none of my apps work with the PED's new PED-App-Direct function, but that will be changing after Tuesday. As a result, I can't talk about how easy it is to connect a PED to an app (such as forScore or unrealBook), because you still have to change the device to Mode 2 (normal up/down arrow communication). But I can attest that all of the six above items are true. As a note, the PED-App-Direct function will only work with Bluetooth Smart Ready devices, which means iPad 3 and newer.
The BT-105 allowed for a number of additional options for users, such as multiple pedals and external pedals. If you need those options (such as the drum pad), the BT-105 is still going to be your answer. But for the majority of users, a smaller, lighter, easier-to-use (because of the new buttons and indicators), and most importantly, less expensive page turner is going to be the answer. The price point under $75 makes this a super-accessible accessory.
If you have a BT-105, you certainly don't need to go out and buy a PED (although if you want to, go ahead). But if you have been wanting an AirTurn for a long time–this is the device to purchase. You can pre-order now at AirTurn.com.
I have included several photos below comparing the BT-105 to the PED. I have also included AirTurn's features page about the device.