Focus Blue braille displays and macOS

Braille on Apple Products

I am thinking of buying a focus 40 blue, 5th generation, but I am not sure how well it works with the Mac. I have found documentation about this display with iOS and windows, but not with macOS.
I seem to have read somewhere that you can't updated the display's software with a Mac, but the person I contacted at VFO apparently didn't know.
I was thinking of buying either that display or the Humanware brilliant, but their 40 cell display hasn't been refreshed yet and doesn't have the same features as the 14 cell one. Are there other comparable new or refreshed displays?
Thank you all for the information.



Submitted by TJT 2001 on Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Focus 40 Blue (5th Generation) is in my opinion the best 40-cell braille display on the market. It works with the Mac. Another display to consider (though not as strong) is the new HIMS QBraille XL.

Submitted by Scott Davert on Thursday, July 26, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hello. The QBraille from Hims may be worth a consideration, but it won't be released until the final quarter of 2018. The other thing to keep in mind about Hims, in North America at least, is that their technical support has seemed to really take a downward spiral in the past 18 months or so. I have had 2 clients and a friend who have had to send their devices back for repair, and waited over a week for an RMA number. All 3 reported contacting the company with all information requested first by email and then followed up a day later by a phone call. The friend I'm referring to had to wait over 3 weeks for them to tell her that her Braille Edge couldn't be repaired. I've even been told about experiences of people having trouble contacting sales about the Polaris. That said, the Braille Edge can be updated using a Mac, since you can download the update file to an SD card and then perform the update on the Edge itself. I suspect this will also be the case with the QBraille, but that's speculation on my part.

If they make a return, the VarioUltra could also be an option. You can update this device on the Mac as well, but who knows when the company who acquired Baum will ramp up production again?

It's true, you cannot update the Focus with a Mac. It's also true that it works well with the Mac as a connected display. It's really the only 40 cell option on the market at the moment other than the Braille Edge and Brailliant BI. If you are comfortable with the Braille Edge knowing that Tech Support is a struggle for some, it could be a good option for you. That said, unless you are in a hurry to get a braille display for your Mac, it may be worth waiting a little longer for the QBraille unless you don't want to deal with Hims.

Submitted by Pat Hornell on Thursday, July 26, 2018

I suppose you could update the firmware on a Focus display using a Mac if you are willing to instal Windows and JAWS using Fusion, Bootcamp or the like. I hope this will work, as I will be ordering an iMac Pro today. Anybody out there have any thoughts on this one?

Submitted by Harryubu on Thursday, February 14, 2019

Can anyone help me to use my Orbit Reader 20 (which has dots 7 and 8 either side of the Space bar) with my MacBook Pro 2013? I’m a beginner and have just got to grips with using my BraillePen Slim with my iPhone. But wherever I look for Mac and Braille, I only get the usual non-Braille shortcuts with no reference to dots 1-6 nor dots anything! How do I even get started?

Submitted by Scott Davert on Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

This podcast may help. It was nuked from the site for some reason, but remains mostly true. The pin you will need to enter on the Mac is 0000. Alternatively, simply use USB. Once VOiceOver is running, it should automatically connect when plugged in.