Humanware Brailliant bi 40 versus Freedom Scientific Focus Blue 40 5th gen: Which one to buy?

Braille on Apple Products

Hi guys, I am planning to buy a braille display. My initial desire was to buy the HumanWare Brailliant bi 40 because I liked the reviews I read about it. I also thought of the Focus Blue 5th gen 40 braille display from Freedom Scientific. But it's more expensive here. It costs 200 Euros more than the Brailliant bi 40. However, I read a disquieting comment somewhere that the Humanware bi 40 is no longer supported by the manufacturer. I have a PC running on Windows 10 and iPhone XR. Does the Brailliant bi 40 work with windows 10, jaws 2019, and iOS 13? Which one of the two do you think is better to buy: the brailliant bi 40 or the Focus Blue 5th gen? I highly appreciate your assistance!



Submitted by Piotr Machacz on Wednesday, October 23, 2019

I have seen and used both and I can 100% recommend the Focus over the Brailliant. Both are built extremely well with a mostly metal construction. The focus has a more durable charging port, however. It uses USB C instead of micro USB so you can reverse the cable just like lightning. The port is also recessed into the case and protected by a small bumper, while the port on the Brailliant sticks out more and is somewhat fragile (I managed to break mine off of the motherboard after a few years which required a whole new motherboard to be installed). Functionality wise, The brailliant can only ever be connected to 1 device, either USB or Bluetooth but not both. Only one Bluetooth device can be paired at a time, and if multiple things try to connect to it at once it leads to some problems as to which device gets to use it. The Focus can maintain up to 5 Bluetooth connections plus one USB and you can switch between them at any time. Finally, the Focus now has a built in basic note taker feature. You can also read brf and TXT files off of a micro SD card.

I haven't heard anything about HumanWare no longer supporting the Brailliant, but it would make sense. That display came out in 2012 so it's almost 7 years old now. For its time it was really good, I used mine throughout high school and didn't have too many issues with it for the most part. That being said, it has been superseded in functionality now by all the new displays that came out particularly when it comes to being able to maintain more than 1 connection. That's by far the Brailliant's biggest limitation.

Submitted by Abrish on Wednesday, October 23, 2019

In reply to by Piotr Machacz

Hi Piotr Machacz,

Thank you for the detailed explanation. But I meant the Brailliant bi 40 new generation. I believe it's been less than 2 years in the market.

Submitted by Abrish on Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Thanks Piotr Machacz! You've saved me from investing on almost a decade old device! I found articles on Brailliant bi 40 on the internet dating to 2011.

Submitted by Piotr Machacz on Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Hi again,

I just went on the Humanware website to check, and I don't think the BI 40 was updated. For what it's worth, when I was buying mine it was at that point a second generation of the Brailliant, though I don't recall if they labelled it as 2nd generation or new generation. I know for sure that Humanware released a new Brailliant a few years ago, but this update was only for the Brailliant 14 which is actually just a rebadge of the Polish Braille Pen 14 display manufactured by Harpo.