I have been using the PageFlip Dragonfly as a page turning device for the last week in class. The Dragonfly is a compact four-pedal hands-free device which I learned about from Matt Libera. I contacted PageFlip, introduced myself, and asked for the ability to buy refurbished model at a discount. PageFlip kindly offered a new model at a discount, knowing that I would be writing a review. I mention this in disclosure, as I know I am predisposed to have a positive opinion of products that are discounted or free (and if you are honest, you would, too).
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have owned several Bluetooth page turning devices, including the PageFlip Cicada, the AirTurn BT-105, the AirTurn PED, and now the PageFlip Dragonfly. I have shown these at conferences, blogged about them, and only used them in occasion. My workflow for the past seven years has been to work from my iPad from a piano, and then in front of a choir. Generally, I turn pages with a single touch (disabling turning by swipe, which I feel is too involved for normal use). On a rare occasion, I have used a pedal in performance, particularly when playing tuba. However…tuba music (at least in an ensemble) has two to three pages and page turns are pretty infrequent. All that changed last year as I incorporated ukulele into my teaching, and as I played with the choirs (while they sang). Suddenly I needed both hands, whereas if I was conducting, I was generally free to turn a page with one hand, particularly with an iPad. My device for the past couple of years has been the AirTurn PED. I like the PED, as it is small, and I also like that it works with Apple’s more advanced Bluetooth capabilities with App Direct support. Where I ran into problems was having two or more pages turn on me with a foot press–which even happened in our concert last spring. After the concert, I updated the firmware and still had issues. I even tried increasing the time between page turns via a pedal on forScore, but I was still flipping more than one page on a regular basis.
As I posted about previously, I don’t think this is a PED issue, I think it is user error with a heavy right foot that may not be letting up on the “page turn bump” in time. The PED doesn’t use a physical “hinge” to turn pages.
And then Matt’s blog post on the PageFlip models came out in April and I couldn’t ignore the Dragonfly. I was unhappy with my page turning ability with the PED, and the potential of a foot pedal that could advance (or go backwards) a song in addition to a page was enticing. Eventually I contacted PageFlip and the rest is history.
I have now used the PageFlip for a full week of classes, and overall I am pleased with it. Unlike the PED, which uses Apple’s special Bluetooth functionality (note: you can make the PED work without it), the Dragonfly acts as a normal Bluetooth keyboard. Yes, I occasionally ended up with a double page turn–but this happened less often than with the PED. And there were a couple of occasions where I hit the top pedal instead of the lower pedal, progressing a song. What I have found is that it is best for me to use my left foot instead of my right foot to use the device.
I was also surprised to find out that Keynote for iOS, which I use for classes (warm-ups, sight reading, and announcements) functions with the Dragonfly, where the PED in the App Direct mode often does not work in Keynote. For the record, that isn’t the purpose of App Direct…but I want to mention it before anyone goes out and tries to make it happen. I used the Keynote functionality of the Dragonfly quite a bit this week. I didn’t previously know that Keynote could be controlled in this way, which is proof that there is always something else to learn. On a related note, if you have the PED in mode 2, it too can control Keynote.
I like the mechanical switches (power, mode) of the Dragonfly, and I like the LED lighting on the pedals. I miss the compact lightweight features of the PED, but the features of the Dragonfly are worth the sacrifice in size and weight.
In truth, the PED and the Dragonfly are not in the same category of device…the Dragonfly should be compared to AirTurn’s Quad or the IK Multimedia Blueboard. That said, the PED and the Dragonfly are all that I have…and the Dragonfly does pack the most features into the smallest overall footprint of any four button Bluetooth page turning device on the market. Again, I like the addition of the Pedal LEDs (also on PageFlip’s two pedal model, the Firefly), as well as the physical buttons.
As a note…you do have to edit forScore’s settings to use the PageFlip, but if needed, you can also customize mode buttons on the PageFlip via a computer (and their program and a USB cable) to add further functions (e.g. Matt Libera suggests using it to enable annotation). My thought? If you have an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil (I don’t yet), annotation happens automatically with a lot of programs. So I have not custom mapped the pedal yet.
I’m pleased with the Dragonfly, and I will keep using it…so, yes, I would recommend it to others. Aron Nelson, developer of unrealBook, says very good things about the Blueboard. And I still think that AirTurn makes excellent devices, too. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to choose between a number of good devices…and even to be able to own some of each? If you buy a device, remember that it will outlast your current iPad. The expense of a page turning device should amortize over time. I have no doubt that my original PageFlip Cicada would still work if I still owned it, as would the BT-105. My PED has been in use since 2015.
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