Best Three Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallets Reviewed
When the concept of hardware crypto wallets first emerged, it was the Trezor that defined crypto wallet devices. Since then serious competition has emerged in the form of the Ledger Nano S and also KeepKey as hardware wallet options. While there are many types and alternatives to choose from when storing your bitcoin, these three are the most prominent hardware wallets any crypto investor should own.
Despite subsequent newcomers, Trezor (and new Trezor ONE) has remained among those at the forefront, most notably with the Nano S having consumed a large amount of market share and also having gained from user perceptions about enhanced, updated security protocols and designs. The same applies to KeepKey, with many especially younger enthusiasts viewing the Trezor as a prototype, and identifying far more readily with the other two.
Users have gained overall, even if indirectly, as competition in the hardware wallet space has kept prices low and also generated loyalties among users. Factors worth noting when evaluating a wallet include gauging security features, support and ultimate UX. Placed side by side, the three top hardware wallets present as follows:
The Ledger Nano S is currently $95 on average, while Trezor comes in on par with KeepKey at $99. Clearly aware of one another, prices remain similar across all three makes.
Trezor (or TREZOR) is the original, being the oldest hardware wallet between the three. Developed in 2014 Satoshi Labs, the company also runs the Slush Mining Pool.
Ledger Nano S Snapshot
The Ledger Nano S presents as the cheapest option, and seems destined to dominate for the foreseeable future, as it is also favored for its ability to store Ripple (XRP). The Nano S usurped Trezor and swiftly overtook the original hardware wallet post launch.
The Ledger Nano S also simply supports more coins than either KeepKey or Trezor, and for many the debate ends right there. The Nano S also has a more legacy feel to it, with proprietary inbuilt IP, as opposed to both open-source options, something that gives a slight step feel, enabling users to more easily recognize and adopt it.
Although prized for a solid feel and generally deemed an attractive and effective wallet, KeepKey doesn’t support many coins, a limitation many baulk at. KeepKey also has a reputation as being the slowest of at least these three to respond to forks and new features on Bitcoin.
Trezor was launched as the first hardware wallet to sport a screen, something especially important for a crypto wallet. By having a screen, a hardware wallet thus allows users to backup the recovery phrase while not exposing the device on a computer. Although it seems mere commonsense now, screens also allow users to review amounts and addresses prior to paying out.
KeepKey has the biggest screen, followed by Trezor, with the Ledger Nano S sporting the smallest of the three. Although not designed as an entertainment or viewing device, thus allowing more modest metrics to evaluate wallet screens, a bigger screen does make for more visible data displayed, eliminating the need to keep clicking to glean more information.
In terms of technical details, Trezor sits at 128 x 64 pixels, the Ledger Nano S boasts 250 × 30 pixels OLED, and KeepKey 256×64 pixels OLED.
The Coins Supported – The Clincher For Many
The coins that a wallet supports is the normally the deciding factor when users purchase a wallet, and here the Ledger Nano S wins hands down. The Trezor wallet, however, also caters for some lesser known digital currencies and ERC20 tokens.
The Ledger Nano S supports bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin gold (BTG, bitcoin cash (BCH), ethereum classic (ETC),and ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC), dogecoin (DOGE), zcash (ZEC), ripple (XRP), dash (DASH), komodo (KMD), stratis (STRAT), ark (ARK), ubiq (UBQ), expanse (EXP), viacoin (VIA), vertcoin (VTC), neo (NEO), stealth (XST), hcash (HSR), stellar (XLM), digibyte (DGB), qtum (QTUM), pivx (PIVX) and peercoin (PPC). It also supports posW (POSW), bitcoin private (BTCP) and zenCash (ZEN).
By contrast, the KeepKey option allows users to store bitcoin, ethereum, dogecoin, dash, litecoin and namecoin. The Trezor option stores bitcoin, bitcoin cash, bitcoin gold, ethereum, litecoin, zcash, dash and nem.
Cryptowallet Design and Size
The Trezor wallet is the smallest of the three, although when folded the Nano S is about the same size. It also resembles a USB stick and is around the same size, something more discreet users value. KeepKey is the largest wallet, but also the most handsome, with a decidedly upmarket look and feel. Both the Trezor and Ledger Nano S options feature two actual device buttons, while a KeepKey device has one.
Both the KeepKey and Ledger Nano S and KeepKey are aluminum manufacture, whereas the Trezor is plastic. Although plastic is not voguey, dropping the Trezor often results in less damage to the device, due to its durability.
The Ledger Nano S measures 98mm x 18mm x 9mm, the Trezor 60mm x 30mm x 6mm and KeepKey lands at 38mm x 93.5mm x 12.2mm.
All three wallets sport screens, and all three devices are a safe mechanism for storing digital coins. Differences in security when all three are watertight become technically nuanced, but suffice to say that the Ledger Nano S sports a dual chip architecture that features a secure element. Trezor lacks this, which isn’t necessarily worse, and KeepKey is again similar but a slightly different build.
All three wallets boast watertight security and also enjoy the security benefits intrinsic to a hardware wallet that keep hackers and attackers at bay, as opposed to desktop and other wallet alternatives.
Cryptowallet Software Compatibility
For a crypto wallet to perform as a wallet, it needs to be able to run software that governs user interaction with and use of the wallet while protecting your virtual currency bank. The three are variously compatible with the following:
Cryptowallet Setup: Trezor
All three hardware wallets boast very simple setup protocols and all three will need a micro USB cable to use. All options take but minutes to set up. The Trezor wallet can be installed via the Trezor Bridge software, for example, or as a Chrome extension.
Users can also simply download the Trezor Manager Android app, although an OTG cable is needed to employ it. The cables are available in the Trezor Shop. Once software has been installed, the firmware will need to be installed, as the wallet comes without this installed. Users will confirm the installation and complete the process by following on-screen prompts.
After this stage, users can either create a new wallet or import an existing one, by employing a relevant recovery phrase. The phrase employed in either setup needs to be noted on a recovery card.
Cryptowallet Setup: KeepKey
In the Chrome store, users will download the KeepKey Client App and then connect the device to a PC. A cable is also included with every KeepKey purchase. Once the app is opened, the wallet is good to go.
Cryptowallet Setup: Ledger Nano S
Users need to update the firmware. This wallet has the longest setup time, with this initial firmware installation lasting up to 15 minutes. The wallet comes with a USB cable to connect the device to a PC, whereupon users will follow the instructions on the wallet’s screen.
The same options apply here, as users can create a new wallet or import an existing one. Choosing a PIN should be accompanied by repeated recital until users are secure in the knowledge that they have memorized it, as three incorrect entries when accessing the wallet will wipe it, a security feature in case of loss or theft.
The 24-word recovery phrase of a new wallet should be noted on a user’s recovery sheet. Desired Ledger apps can then be installed once “Your device is now ready” is displayed on the screen. Users will complete the whole process by downloading the Ledger Wallet Ethereum Chrome App or the Ledger Wallet Bitcoin Chrome app.
For the widest coin support, the Ledger Nano S is an obvious choice. It’s also discreet and unassuming, something favored by many users. KeepKey is easy to set up and smart to look at. It also sports the biggest screen of the three. And then there’s the Trezor option and KeepKey which are three of the top four bitcoin hardware wallets as we discussed.
While all offer the best of the best crypto wallet security, most users battle to choose between Trezor (and Trezor Model T) and the Nano S, and personal preferences determine a final decision. Although the Trezor is manufactured from plastic, it is also less of a fiddle to use, with its larger screen. Also, the plastic construct provides for damage resistance more than the two aluminium options.
Most users tend to go with the Nano S, simply because it supports the widest range of coins and, in the dynamic and ever-growing digital coin arena. Most users also like to hedge their bets as to which coins they might fancy in the future. on this basis alone, the Ledger Nano S does win hands down although Trezor continues to be dominant amongst all cryptocurrency users and hodlers.