Top 5 Bitcoin Hardware Wallets in 2019
You’ve finally made the decision to start investing in cryptocurrencies – but you need a place to store them safely. And if you’ve done your homework, you probably know that there are several types of crypto wallets you can keep your coins in. There are software wallets, which are, well, software that run on either desktop or mobile, paper wallets, which are printed records of you Bitcoin ownership that are not stored anywhere else, or hardware wallets. Hardware wallets are similar to an external hard drive or a USB memory stick – it seals away your wallet information on an isolated piece of hardware that only you have access to. However, they are one step ahead of memory sticks when it comes to securing the data – otherwise, no one would pay $50+ for a hardware wallet!
We won’t go too deep into how hardware wallets work, as that calls for an article of its own. All you need to know is that hardware wallets are probably the safest kind of crypto wallet you can get, as they use 2FA to authorize your access to the funds on it. The two-factor authentication (2FA) consists of having access to the hardware itself and knowing the PIN code – much like a card at an ATM.
In this article, we’re looking at the top 5 Bitcoin hardware wallets you can get in 2018:
1. Ledger Nano S
The Ledger Nano S is the ultimate Bitcoin hardware wallet. It’s very easy to use even if you’re a beginner, as the interface is almost self-explanatory. It’s also fairly cheap, at around $50 as of December 2017, half as cheap as its rival Trezor. When you turn on the Ledger Nanon S, it will generate a random sequence of 24 words (a ‘seed,’ as it’s commonly referred to), which you can use to recover your wallet in case it gets lost or stolen. You then have to create a PIN you will use to get access to your wallet. A unique security feature of the Ledger is that it allows you to set up multiple ‘decoy’ pins that will lead to alternative wallet addresses – very useful for leading robbers away from your actual wallet.
Trezor is probably the best known Bitcoin hardware wallet in the world. However, it is pretty expensive compared to the Ledger, going for around $100 at the time of writing. The technology it uses is also very similar to Ledger’s, but more people prefer to use Trezor because the brand has a very good reputation.
When you first start your Trezor, you will have to connect it a computer and use both devices to generate your PIN. After that, you will be required to enter your PIN twice, and the Trezor will start generating the 24-seed you can use to recover your wallet. It also allows you to set up a passphrase in addition to your PIN for extra security.
Keepkey is the newest product on the Bitcoin hardware wallet market. Its appeal is in the fact that it also supports altcoins, including Ethereum, Dash, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Namecoin, and Testnet. The wallet itself is pretty large though – almost twice the size of the Ledger Nano S, which can be inconvenient for some people. It’s also pretty expensive, going for around $100, just like the Trezor, but Keepkey’s reputation is nowhere near Trezor’s (mostly because it’s new to the market.)
As opposed to Ledger and Trezor’s 24-word seed, the Keepkey will generate a 12-word one. While that might sound like it’s less safe, we wouldn’t worry about it – the probability of someone guessing it is still next to none.
CoolWallet is exactly what it sounds like – a cool Bitcoin hardware wallet. Its design resembles a credit card, but it’s actually a working electronic piece that stores your Bitcoins just like the ones above. However, it connects to your main device using Bluetooth or NFC as opposed to USB – which can be a bummer if you’re more used to doing things on your computer. You will have to download an app in order to start it, and it will let you choose between two seed options – a word seed, and a number seed. With the number seed option, you will have to write the numbers down, and input the sum after you have them all. The process is definitely a hassle, given that the numbers are 5-figures and up, but it’s definitely a secure way to protect your data.
Its main advantage is definitely the sleek aspect, but it doesn’t lack much in terms of technology either. Coolwallet is an IndieGoGo project, and it costs around $70.
BitLox is another indie project that hit the market in 2016. And while it never made it as big as Ledger or Trezor, reviews say that is has a lot of potential. The first batch of BitLox was known to have a lot of issues, but people who bought it recently have had no complaints about it. BitLox is pretty expensive though – costs $98 for the device alone (on their official website,) and $198 for the Extreme Privacy set, which includes a vault with pre-installed TAILS OS, a leather case, and a couple other accessories.
The design of the BitLox also resembles a card, but it’s made of titanium alloy – something the creators take great pride in, saying that makes the wallet indestructible from more than one point of view. The main security feature allows you to choose your own type of PIN, which can be anything from a short 4-digit combination plus 12-word seed to a 60-digit combination plus 24-word seed.
As you can see, there’s not too much difference between one device to the next when it comes to Bitcoin hardware wallets. The security tenchology is pretty much the same – a PIN code, and a 12 or 24-word seed for emergency recovery. Some wallets also let you set up passphrases for incresed security. The price can differe quite a bit though, so we’d recommend you go for the Ledger Nano S, as it’s the best value for the price.