Reviews of the Orbit writer for smart phones

Braille on Apple Products


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.



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

Club AppleVis Member

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 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

Club AppleVis Member

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.

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

Club AppleVis Member

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 Team, Orbit Res… on Sunday, August 9, 2020


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 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:

Tech Support Team
Orbit Research

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 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!

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 Team, Orbit Res… on Thursday, August 13, 2020


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

For instructions to upgrade the Orbit Writer please refer the section 15.2 of the User Guide (v1.1) available on the website at

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.


Tech Support Team
Orbit Research

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


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 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 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 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.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Actually what I meant was bootcamp might be going away. So if and when that happens, you will need to get a cheap 300 dollar lapttop or copy the file onto the SD card. Looks like we are going to have this battle just like we did with the reader end of things, again.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Actually you once again misread what i said. I said the battle of mac and windows again. When the orbit reader was in prototype I asked about supporting mac for updating and they told me basically " in no uncertain terms, who uses a mac. No we will not." in so many terms. This was not orbit research, this was some guy at APH who was there to show it off. I have somewhere the interview, and me ripping him a new one right in front of the guy. I'm not proud of that moment by the way.

Submitted by Trenton Matthews on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Well, the first part to that subject line has a simple answer:

As for the Orbit Writer Upgrade thing?
Yah, they need a universal way of installing updates, and quickly!

In addition to that, Linux/Chrome OS users, are also out of luck.

And as Sarah just said, why should I buy a 250 USD (let alone a 100 USD bing book) just to update keyboard firmware.

Submitted by Rixon Smith on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

I just spoke with the orbit research team on the telephone, and he specifically stated that they are working on the issue of upgrading firmware on the Orbit writer with the Mac. Unfortunately he could not give me a timeframe on when this would be coming out.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

ELL THAT'S GOOD. Woops, sorry about the all caps. The time frame might be a few years from now, or a few months at the very very best.

Submitted by Lino Morales on Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Like most of you I ordered my Orbit Writer from AT Guys for my birthday. I love it. My only minor beef with the unit is that doesn't remember that I connected to my iPod Touch when I switch back to iOS and switching back to using it on my PC. Hopefully future firmware updates will fix things.

Submitted by Brad on Thursday, August 20, 2020

It sounds like it's a braille keyboard with no display, I can't use braille input because of the Iphone being small but I might look into this.

Are the keys the same as on the orbit righter? If so, i'll give it a miss, I don't like those tiny finger pad keys.

Submitted by Ilya Routman on Friday, August 28, 2020

hi, I am thinking about buying the orbit writer. does someone know if you can type phone numbers inside a call, like in banking systems and such? I don't have a bluetooth braille display so I can't check it myself.

Submitted by Jim D on Friday, August 28, 2020

I'm just wondering if there is a mailing list or some other way to get notified when firmware updates are available. I just happen to see the announcement on this thread, but other than that, I had no idea an update to the firmware which corrected several important issues, had been released. I purchased my product from AT Guys, but an update informing all users would be great.
Thank you.

Submitted by Jason on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Hey all! I know many don't want to use BootCamp, space and complexity being on the list of reasons. VMWare Fusion is also a no-go for some cause its not free. Just wanted to say that VirtualBox from Sun/Orical is, last time I used it, free and about 98% accessible. Installing windows takes up about 10G with this method. As has been said, the iso for windows is available and last time I installed it, windows is free for screen reader users. Win10 also offers speech furring install. The nice thing is that after done, you can move the folder off your drive, IE a flash drive, and never use it again until another update comes out. When the mac version hits, just delete the folder and uninstall VirtualBox. Note the talking installer will work with BootCamp *only* if you have a USB sound device, but VirtualBox simulates standard sound equipment. Hope this helps.

Submitted by Jessica Brown on Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Got it a week ago. The instructions were easy to understand and I figured the device out in a few hrs. It is true there is no menu for settings, but every setting has its own keystroke and the device confirms settings and setting changes through vibrations. If anyone is thinking of sending it back or junking it because they can’t make it work, let me know and I would be happy to help. I am typing this on it. I also have a windows laptop so if anyone wants me to upgrade a device, PM me.Pro tip: To avoid the slow typing, having to lock/unlock the iOS device to reconnect, and all the other braille display problems with VO you can connect the device in keyboard HID mode. This will make the device talk to the iOS device as if it were a normal bluetooth keyboard, not a braille display. You will need to know computer braille as in this mode that’s all you can type. Also, most of the navigation commands will become unusable. So it makes typing faster then hooking it up as a braille display, but you lose the ability to use navigation commands and have to do that from the iOS device.