5/18/11

PageFlip Cicada- Bluetooth pedals

A while ago I reviewed the Airturn Bluetooth pedals. I've been using my iPad as a PDF sheet music reader for months now and the Airturn pedals solved the page turning problem, which allowed me to start playing tunes that were more than one page long. A few weeks after I got the Airturn pedals the company discovered a problem with the mono jacks and had to recall most of the units they had shipped out. I sent my pedals back and waited for the replacements to arrive. The post office lost my package for several weeks and I was getting quite impatient because I was back to only playing one pagers on gigs, which was a big drag. My buddy Joe had picked up a new foot pedal called the PageFlip Cicada that looked pretty cool. I went ahead and ordered one while I waited for the post office to materialize my Airturn pedals.

 There were a few things that initially interested me in the PageFlip. The first is the fact that the PageFlip is a single compact unit, unlike the Airturn, which consists of two separate foot pedals connected by cords to a Bluetooth transmitter box. One of the big issues I had been having with the Airturn was that the pedals would constantly move around as I used them. They had to be constantly repositioned by hand. It was a real drag to have to keep bending down to fiddle with the Airturn pedals on the floor between tunes. The PageFlip Cicada never needed to be repositioned because the pedals were connected.

 The Page Flip has a few features that the Airturn lacks. The PageFlip Cicada can be configured to transmit page turns in several different ways, depending on which application you are using to read music. It can be set to send signals as page up/page down, right arrow/left arrow, right mouse button/left mouse button, or underscore/delete. The Cicada also has a repeat switch in case you want the ability to turn multiple pages quickly.

 The Cicada takes up a lot less floor space than the Airturn units, which unfortunately also makes for a greater likelihood of stepping on the wrong pedal in the heat of battle. This brings me to the biggest problem that arose while using the PageFlip Cicada......accidental page flips. The pedals of the Cicada are fairly high off the floor compared to the Airturn and they don't have much resistance. This makes it quite difficult to tell when my foot was actually touching the pedal. Because of this I felt like I had to keep my foot raised up above the pedals, so as not to trigger them accidentally. If you're wearing hard soled dress shoes there just isn't enough tactile feedback to know when you are actually hitting the pedal. As I was soloing my foot would slowly drift down and trigger the pedals if I didn't pay attention to what I was doing, then....BAM...suddenly the guitarist I was playing with was reading the wrong changes. I eventually got the hang of it and learned to keep my toes higher in the air and just made more of an exaggerated stomping motion when I wanted to change pages. Annoying, but not a huge deal really.

 I figured out an easy mod to make the Cicada pedals more responsive. I just slipped folded pieces of paper into the top part of the pedal hinges, which lowered the pedals down to the point right above where they trigger. This eliminates the mushy first part of the pedals' motion, where I can't even tell if my foot is on the pedal or not. This also allows me to keep my toes lower, where before I felt like I had to fight to keep my toes elevated so that I didn't accidentally trigger the pedals. There is much more resistance with the pedals lowered and now I feel like I can actually tell when my foot is touching the pedals.

I think that probably the most compelling reason to go with the PageFlip Cicada over the Airturn in the end is the price. The three-piece Airturn (two pedals + transmitter) sells for $124.95, and more if you want to buy the board that holds everything place. The PageFlip Cicada sells for $79.95. I think the Cicada is the pedal that I'll be taking to my gigs.

PageFlip Cicada website


4 comments:

Hugh Sung said...

Hi David
The AirTurn was designed to be a modular system where the backwards page turning pedal could be removed in performance, thus eliminating the possibility of accidentally hitting the wrong pedal. That being said, we're getting ready to release a new pedal board which will hold all the components together, along with some other cool goodies. Also, one key advantage of the latest version of the AirTurn BT-105 is its ability to toggle the iPad virtual keyboard for text entry while simultaneously turning pages hands free. Hope you'll have a chance to check these out!

David Carlos Valdez said...

Thanks Hugh. I look forward to checking out your new products. The toggle is a great idea. The new pedals you sent me are better than the first ones.

Barry said...

Hi David,
Just an update for anyone checking out your Cicada Pedal review
Re your complaint about having to hover your foot over the Cicada pedal worried about triggering an unintended page turn, you can actually hold the pedal down to the floor as long as you wish without the pedal sending any page turns (as long as you have the Repeat button turned off of course, which is how you would have it set for live performance).

When ready for your next page just release the pedal and push down again to trigger your next page.

(This is also clearly shown at 2:00 in the Cicada video on your review page.)

Thanks for your informative review!

Jeffrey Naness said...

I had some problems with the Cicida and the Airturn on my Toshiba Excite 13 (using Mobilesheets).

The Ciceda does seem to shut off between songs pretty often (seems less than 10 minutes). But, if I make sure it is activated with a song, I don't think it shuts off in the middle of a song. So, I always go through at least one page (perhaps loading the songs in Mobile Sheets from the last page so I have to activate the pedal to get to the first page).

Also, I had a problem with it freezing due (I think) to pressing both pedals at the same time. So, now I take my left shoe off so I can feel the pedal (and avoid pressing the wrong pedal or both pedals at the same time).

I actually ordered an Airturn, but I had problems with it pairing. So I returned it.

I am hoping with these accommodatioans to its quirks (or prehaps this is due to the tablet ?or the software ?), the Ciceda will work out going forward.