Reviews of the Orbit writer for smart phones

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Braille on Apple Products

Hello.

I was wondering has anybody seen or can point me to a good review of the new Orbit writer? I saw this the other day and am seriously considdering this when it comes out.

Many thanks for your help.

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Submitted by techluver on Saturday, March 14, 2020

I kind of doubt it. I was considering it, since sometimes carrying a focus is slightly annoying. I love physical braille input.

Submitted by J.J. - A.T. Guys on Saturday, March 14, 2020

It's very thin and light. if you ever saw the old Braille Pen Slim, this is much slimmer. It also has haptic feedback for power and battery status which I like. It will use the screen reader drivers of the other Orbit products. We'll be posting a podcast on Blind Bargains soon that will give some more info.
Definitely intrigued.
Happy to answer any questions.

Submitted by JC Alicea on Sunday, March 15, 2020

I cannot wait to hear the podcastt on the braille writer. I may consider getting that as my accessory for my iPhone in the future.

Submitted by James Dean on Sunday, March 15, 2020

I am very excited about this and would have already pre-ordered, but nowhere have I seen an official release date.

Submitted by Missy Hoppe on Sunday, August 2, 2020

I would love to find actual reviews for this product, or even better yet, an actual manual. I received mine today, and I am almost definite that I will be returning it for a refund. The weight and size are fantastic. Unfortunately, those are the only positive things I can say about it. The layout is horrible, at least in my opinion, and the commands that I was able to figure out or not even the least bit intuitive. when I first heard about this, I envisioned basically an eight dot braille keyboard and a spacebar with a power button on one of the sides. Unfortunately, that's not what this is. It has the six main Braille dot keys, but in between dot one and dot four, there is a set of arrow keys with a round selection button in the middle of them. Then, below that, are backspace, space, and enter. evidently, this thing has some kind of menu, but since it has no display, I have no idea how you are supposed to know what menu you are in at any given time, and there is no manual to consult. The manual that ships with the orbit writer is only in print, and as of the time I am writing this, there doesn't seem to be ang kind of manual specific to the orbit rider available on the orbit research website. Hopefully, there will be many people who have positive things to say about this device. Unfortunately, I don't think I will ever be one of them, and it makes me sad, because I have been anticipating the arrival of this device for a couple of months now.

Submitted by J.J. - A.T. Guys on Sunday, August 2, 2020

Here's a link to the manual and quick-start guide. The latter is the same info that is on the printed sheet. I'm sure Orbit will get a direct link to this shortly on their support page. http://www.orbitresearch.com/support/orbit-writer-support/

The arrow keys on the Writer are mostly for navigation, and also used for a few of the commands. There is no menu system on the Writer since there is no display. I know it can take some time to adjust to a new keyboard layout, which has been the case for just about every new laptop I have purchased.

A. T. Guys is an authorized dealer of the Orbit Writer and Reader, and I'm happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability.

For more info, or for others looking to order, here's a link to our Orbit Reader and Writer page

Thank you for all of the info you have provided. As I said on Twitter, I really wish I would have purchased from you. I'm not sure it would have changed my opinion completely, but it might have made some difference. *smile* Even reading the manual, it's the layout of the keys that is a deal breaker for me. Not saying I'm an expert by any stretch, but I do think the design in my imagination would be more intuitive, and it could still have all the same functions as it currently does. Oh well. Hoping that I can get in touch with Orbit and return it. Especially these days, I could put the $100 to uses that wouldn't make me feel so frustrated. Thanks again for your response, though. Next time I need anything tech related that you sell, I will definitely remember your outstanding customer service.

Submitted by Blind angel 444 on Sunday, August 2, 2020

I want to get this now!!! My mom said that the page only talks about smart phones and computers, so can I use this on my iPad too? Also I would like to know about your sells tax, warranty policies and a direct number for ordering and answers to more questions.
Thank you for distributing this affordable Braille device.

Hello. The Orbit Writer, like any Bluetooth display, will work with both iPhones and Ipads. You can pair to both of these at the same time and switch between them.
It comes with a 1-year warranty. Sales tax is charged in Michigan.
You can go to www.atguys.com or call 269-216-4798.

Submitted by Gold Dots on Monday, August 3, 2020

Received Orbit Writer on Friday. It is nifty, but I am unsuccessful reconnecting it to multiple devices. I have paired it with channel one, my iPhone then paired channel two to my iPad. Each of these tasks were successful, but I cannot get it to switch or reconnect to either. I've read the manual, spoke to Orbit Research, and have had the unit forget all pairings a few times now. Nothing seems to be working. Any help is appreciated. Is this user error or device issues? *Shrugs, leaving me disappointed.

Submitted by Rixon Smith on Wednesday, August 5, 2020

so far my Orbit Writer keeps dropping the connection with my Iphone. i also wish the keys were a little closer together. If I can't figure out the first problem i'll be asking for a refund. I have to say that this is a good effort though. The final thing I will say is that I'm writing this post using the Orbit Writer, and it feels sluggish which might be abluetooth issue. The Bluetooth lag with this braille device in the iPhone is really bad. That is where I am getting my sluggishness feeling, I hope they can fix cities issues in regards to connection and Bluetooth lag.

Submitted by Chris Gilland on Wednesday, August 5, 2020

It's actually already out.

Submitted by J.J. - A.T. Guys on Wednesday, August 5, 2020

In reply to by Rixon Smith

Hello. Which version of iOS are you running? These devices are firmware updatable so bugs can be fixed by a patch.

Submitted by Rixon Smith on Wednesday, August 5, 2020

In reply to by J.J. - A.T. Guys

I am running the current version of iOS 13.6. If you were talking about updating the orbit rider itself, I would like to know if there is a way to do this using a Mac. Because of cover 19 restrictions, I do not have access to a PC computer at this time. Thanks for any information you can offer me.

Submitted by Blind angel 444 on Thursday, August 6, 2020

Hi JJ do you have a YouTube channel for the Orbit Writer and your other products? Its hard for me to explain accessible items for the blind, to my sighted family. They want to see the product before buying it. Also I’m conserg with all of the negative reviews on the Orbit Writer. This will be my first Braille-Bluetooth product and I don’t know if it will be too hard for me? From the comics I red it seems to be very difficult for a beginner. So JJ, what are your thoughts? By the way I know Braille, just not Bluetooth.

Submitted by dufelbag on Friday, August 7, 2020

I just received my orbit writer a few days ago. I never have been used to using more than six keys for writing so don't miss dots 7 and 8. Off course the initial instructions for connecting to the i-phone were woefully inadequate once I got be my eyes to read the print. The instructtions didn't reference going to the voice-over braille section to connect the device. Come on Orbit Research, you can do better than that. Despite a slight bluetooth delay, I'm anxious to use it to write facebook posts and replies, messages, and e-mails among other things.

Submitted by Brad on Friday, August 7, 2020

I've contacted the team.

Here's the issues I've come across:

1. The graphics aren't labeled using alt tags.

2. The button you press enter on to send what you're searching for to the site isn't labeled.

3. The submenus act strane when arrowed down through.

4. The contact us info on the contact us page isn't layed out nicely at all.

I'd personally not buy from this company unless they fix these issues.

My iPhone & iPad mini are running the latest iOs. My Mac is running High Sierra. I haven't tried to connect it to devices running iOs 12.

Submitted by Tech Support T… on Sunday, August 9, 2020

Hello,

We would like to thank you all for your feedback on the Orbit Writer. We are investigating issues reported by users and will post an update shortly. We request you to please email us at techsupport@orbitresearch.com with details such as the device you are using, version of the operating system, etc. This will help us investigate and resolve issues at the earliest.

Though the product is intended to be simple to use, connecting it so computers, smartphones or tablets involves several steps. Please refer to the user guide which can be found on our website at: http://www.orbitresearch.com/support/orbit-writer-user-guide-downloads/

Tech Support Team
Orbit Research
www.orbitresearch.com

Submitted by DrewWeber on Sunday, August 9, 2020

It's easy when you get a new device to expect it to work a cirtain way, but I need to be quicker to remember that this is a new device and that it may take time to get used to the way it works. The keyboard is small, and feels similar to a Braille N Speak, as far as the material it's made of, accept, it's much thinner, shorter, and not as wide. The device feels perfect to Braille on. My experience so far, has been a bit shotty when using this as a Braille Display, without the display in iOS so to speak. Input does not seam to be accurate. When three dots are involved, things get messy. One thing I must remember is to lock and unlock my phone after pairing. I also tried with other screen readers, JAWS, Over Bluetooth, which I didn't follow instructions for, from the Orbit user guide, and, I must need to, as it seams like the space key is always held down. NVDA, over Bluetooth, seamed more promising, input was more accurit than iOS with Braille input, but still quite messy. What I did discover, is the HID keyboard input in the Orbit Writer manual. . Using this on iOS, the Phone iOS device sees the Orbit Writer as a BT keyboard vs a Braille display, so you use Grade1/Computer Braille. This input is much more accurate, pretty much flawless, which shows me it's not a hardware issue. Thanks to Orbit Research for your time in looking into issues. All in all, the device is much quicker than on screen virtual keyboard input for me on iOS, and it's so small I can take it anywhere.

Submitted by Blind angel 444 on Monday, August 10, 2020

Unfortunately I never learned that and I was wondering if there were any resources to help me?

Submitted by Chris Gilland on Monday, August 10, 2020

Sorry, I couldn't resist. But in all seriousness, computer braille is a way to represent certain things you see when dealing with computer related matters. For example, writing a web address, you can't just use grade 2, or UEB. If you did, then the slash, which is dots 3 4 would be interpreted as the S T sign. Computer braille has no contractions. Basically, think grade 1, only the punctuation symbols are quite different. It takes some learning, as does anything, but it's not that terribly bad. The good thing is, you won't need to use it very frequently unless you're writing out things specific to computer code like web addresses/e-mail addresses, source code, html markup, etc. Most of the time you'll be using contracted braille often known as grade2, or UEB. I'm obviously assuming you're in a region that uses the english braille table, if not, then, well, never mind. LOL! Don't worry about the subject of this post looking really wonky. That was kind of my whole point in doing it. It indeed *does!* look funky, if you don't understand computer braille, and how it works. If you do however, then you'll probably be cracking up, saying that was hillarious!

Submitted by Trenton Matthews on Monday, August 10, 2020

That's the section among the Orbit Writer manual that will greatly help you in your quest. Among said section, you'll also find braille keyboard commands dealin with BRL equivalents, like with the escape key, alt key, and even function keys!

I know grade 1 and 2. But sadly nuthing beyond that. Yes, we have UEB. I want to learn more about the other Braille codes too!!! Do you know of any good resources available for learning the other codes? I tried Hadley but that training works better in person, add least for familiarizing yourself with the material first the time. After that you are on your own. I want to learn, will you please help me?
Thank you

Submitted by Jason SW on Wednesday, August 12, 2020

I got my Orbit Writer last Friday. It's a great little device, but using it with VoiceOver on iOS is a bit buggy. I think it's probably a VoiceOver issue, but I'm not sure. The problems occur more frequently when I am typing quickly, but not always.
Sometimes, if I am typing a letter with two or more dots in it, like D, one of the dots will be ignored, so I get E instead, for example, Entire letters or spaces can be dropped, and in some cases, dots from two different letters can somehow be combined into one letter.

Thanks for your bug report. This falls in line with what a few others have also noticed, especially fast typists. Orbit is aware of the issues and there will hopefully be a firmware fix available soon. We appreciate your patience and support.

Submitted by Tech Support T… on Thursday, August 13, 2020

Hello,

We have a firmware update now available for the Orbit Writer that addresses several of the issues reported recently.

The package (vB0.00.00.01r01) is available on our website at http://www.orbitresearch.com/support/orbit-writer-support/orbit-writer-…

For instructions to upgrade the Orbit Writer please refer the section 15.2 of the User Guide (v1.1) available on the website at http://www.orbitresearch.com/support/orbit-writer-user-guide-downloads/

This firmware upgrade includes the following:

1. Improvements and fix for missing character issues while typing on iOS devices with Voiceover
2. Improvements and fix for missing character issues while typing on Windows devices with NVDA over Bluetooth and USB.
3. Improvements and fix for the issue where sometimes a space is missing or the space key needs to be press twice.

We will be releasing another package with fixes for typing issues with JAWS very soon.

Thank you for your support and patience.

Regards,

Tech Support Team
Orbit Research
www.orbitresearch.com
techsupport@orbitresearch.com

Submitted by Trenton Matthews on Friday, August 14, 2020

I just downloaded and extracted the zip file. After plugging in the Obit Writer into my Thinkpad Running Windows 10 Pro, I run the EXE file and do the steps provided in the manual.
I feel the vibration from the Orbit writer, however it doesn't pop up the dialog of any kind.
I'm running Windows 10 Pro Version 2004 (OS Build 20185.1000)

Submitted by Angel Blessing on Friday, August 14, 2020

I want to let everyone here know that the Firmware update does fix the issues Brought up to Orbit research just last week, I have tried this and the Orbit writer is working like a charm.

Submitted by Cory K on Friday, August 14, 2020

I can't get the upgrade button to show in the utility either!!! Hmmm

Submitted by Jason SW on Friday, August 14, 2020

In reply to by Cory K

Hi,

Even in a Windows VM, I was able to upgrade my Orbit Writer. I followed the instructions exactly as they were written in the manual.
The tricky part might be when you have to put your Orbit Writer in firmware update mode. You should have your device plugged in before you do this. If you successfully put your device in firmware update mode, you should hear sounds from Windows as the device disconnects, then reconnects. That's how it worked for me, anyway. After that, the information in the upgrade utility should change, and the upgrade button should appear.

Submitted by Chris Gilland on Friday, August 14, 2020

In reply to by Blind angel 444

I'm happy to help privately where I can, clgilland07 at gmail dot com, but just know, I am not a braille instructor, and only have just begun to get really passionate about braille my life, even though I've read it for almost 30 years. My braille skills by a hugbe huge huge huge huge huge shot are quite low in the field to be desired. I know it, can read it, and very easily can understand it, but I'm slow as malasses, so I'm probably not admittedly saying humbley, the one who'd be best to teach someone else. I'll do my best, but again, I don't make any promises whatsoever.

Submitted by Survivor Wolf on Friday, August 14, 2020

Make sure you hit the key combination to put the Orbit into update mode only after the update manager software is running. then tab through. The instructions are slightly confusing and make it sound like there will be a new message or dialog box, but it actually is just text written into one of the existing text boxes on the screen, which should all populate if the writer is put into the upgrade mode at the correct time and is working properly. If not, there may be some other issue going on. I know i had to unblock the utility software in Windows Security, for example.

Hope that helps, or that you find the answer otherwise!

Submitted by Chris Gilland on Friday, August 14, 2020

I know beyond a doubt I'm gonna open a huge can of wirms here, so why I'm even bothering, I don't know, but, what about us mac users who only use macs, and not Windows at all? How do we update the unit? Exactly! We don't. Is that really fair to us?

Submitted by Rixon Smith on Friday, August 14, 2020

In reply to by Chris Gilland

Considering the fact that I have the same issue I have already pose this question to the orbit research team itself. Hope this will calm your nerves, and hopefully they will respond in a favorable way.

Submitted by Fred on Friday, August 14, 2020

1. I'm hoping they put out an update package for us stalwart Mac users. 2. This company needs a lot of work on their user guide writing skills. Just pairing the Writer to IOS device was a struggle. I'm, dreading the process if they do come up with a Mac OS firm ware package. Having first used Braille input in the 1980's on the VersaBraille, I felt like the user guide should have described the various Braille conventions that have evolved over the years, rather than just listing your options. I know several people who are returning their Writer because they could not get it paired to their IOS device or found the user guide less than helpful. We are not all technology giants. .

Submitted by Gold Dots on Friday, August 14, 2020

Hi all, I am much more proficient with Mac, so this updating is a challenge. Is anyone using Narrator on Windows? That is what I'm using, and I'm wondering if it's possible that is causing problems. I cannot get past the entering in the key sequence on Orbit Writer. The 3 button options are dimmed. Any suggestions on my next steps? :) I'm not giving up yet.

Submitted by Chris Gilland on Friday, August 14, 2020

In reply to by Rixon Smith

I apologize if it came across that I'm upset. It's all good. I know me saying, is that fair to us might have seemed a bit harsh, and perhaps it was. I'm sorry. All that I meant was, it seems a bit unfair to those right now that they have no way to reliably update very easily without major work arounds. But no. I agree with you entirely. In time, I'm sure they'll come up with something. I have no doubt of that. It's all good. No hard feelings here. Again, sorry if I came across too strongly.

It's possible that it's not seeing the binary file. What you may have to do is use capslock+arrow keys to review around the screen, find the browse button in the updater utility, hit capslock+enter on it to activate it, then, from there, browse to the .bin file. Also realize, the upgrade button will be unavailable if if the unit didn't correctly enter update mode.

Make sure when you start, the unit is totally powered off. then plug in the unit via USB.

You should feel a very short little vibrate from the unit. If you don't, then charge it before doing this.

Then go to the folder where you unzipped the archived zip file.

Make sure in there you have the update utility, and that you also have the binary .bin file. As long as both are there, you're good to go.

Now that you plugged in the unit with it first powered off, I said off, o f f, not on, o n, on the writer, even though it's powered off, after running the update utility, on the Writer, hit up arrow and dot 5 at the same time. Keep both the keys held down. While keeping them both held down, press dot 8, but don't hold it down. Release dot 8 right away. Then after letting go of dot 8, let go of the other two keys: up and dot 5. It *has* to be done in that exact sequence order. Otherwise, it won't work.

You should hopefully hear a little ding tone from Windows.

Now find the upgrade button. If it's not there, then use Narrator in your case, and find the browse button and activate it. Now same as you'd open any file on Windows, navigate to the .bin file located hopefully in the folder where you extracted the zip file.

Once you've pointed the utility to that .bin file, then the upgrade button should show up. Activate the upgrade button, then wait. Don't touch the writer.

Don't pannick. The writer will vibrate over and over again short little bursts. That's fine. That's just it telling you the update is progressing.

Once done, your writer will power off. Again, that's fine, absolutely no big deal. That's totally normal.

At this point you can alt+F4 to close the utility window, then unplug your USB cord from the writer's micro USB port.

You're all done! Now power it on like normal by pushing and holding the up and down arrow keys at the same time until it makes a short vibrational burst.

Now just connect like normal, and you should be good to go.

Sort of yes, and sort of no.

The short answer is no.

The long answer is, you're not, provided that you're willing to install Windows with Bootcamp, or in some form of a virtual machine.

If you're in the US, let me know. We might could arrange for me to do it for you then ship it back to you, provided that you covered shipping and insurance both ways. That might be more risky than you'd like to attempt though, understandably in fear of it getting lost in shipping, especially during this pandemic.

I'm only saying if you private message me your e-mail address, we may could work something out as a very last resort. I'm willing as long as you cover everything.

Chris.

Submitted by Fred on Sunday, August 16, 2020

If there is not going to be a path to updating Writer firmware using a Mac, then it's off to the old technology drawer. As is, it is slow, buggy and should perform a lot better than it does. Fred

Submitted by Tiffani Milburn on Monday, August 17, 2020

I haven’t seen any reviews for the orbit writer, but I have one. It works well with the iPhone and Voiceover. The only problam I have with it is that I type fast, and it can’t always keep up with me.

Submitted by Moopie Curran on Monday, August 17, 2020

Come to find out, my family still does have a Windows PC, but unfortunately, this PC doesn't have any screenreading software (it's not like I'd be familiar with it anyway, having not used windows in 5 years). But anyway, I was able to recruit a sighted family member to help me update my orbit writer. We finally got it done, but it certainly wasn't easy. For one, we had issues extracting the .zip file, but I think that was just a setting on their computer, the zip file extracted its contents into the directory in which the .zip file was saved, ie users/name/download, the files just went there, instead of creating a separate directory ie users/name/download/orbit firmware. So we had difficulty finding the files. So I had to go in on my mac and download and unzip it on my mac so I could get a separate directory. Then I put the files on a flash drive and worked with it from there. Also, this is more of a sightling problem I think, but the person helping me said he didn't like how everything was "labelled the same", although I don't really think it was, I think his problem was all of the files in the directory were labelled orbit this and orbit that, they all started with Orbit, and rightfully so, but I guess a sighted person doesn't pay attention to the full title, I don't know.
But in my opinion, the upgrade instructions, and the process in general was not straightforward at all. I do think that the user guide could use some work, at least on the upgrade front. My main gripe was that I thought when you clicked upgrade, it would automatically have you browse for the .bin file containing the firmware, but instead, you have to click browse. That just didn't seem clear to me.
Anyway, this is just one person's opinion, take it as you will.
I'm just glad I have an updated Orbit writer now, and the bug with the missing characters with fast typists seems to have been squushed.

Not to say it shouldn't be updatable by Mac, but remember to build a way to do so costs money. Mac and blind folks are a peace of the population we're smaller than the PC side. I also don't understand the not wanting to do the bootcamp option. You can literally grab a ISO from Windows install Bootcamp and update your product then remove it all with in a hour.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Monday, August 17, 2020

That might actualy change, and as for me I have about 30 gigs left on my 256 gig ssd drive so boot camping is not for me. I have a windows laptop if I really need to use it. You can get one for under 300 now a days and use that just for somple ish stuff.