What's the best hardware wallet for 2020?

Having been around crypto for a few years I’ve seen a multitude of hardware wallets burst onto the market to keep our well hodled coins safe. But… has much changed for these devices since they first appeared?

Here are some of the interesting ones out there at the moment:


Ngrave Zero

Dubbed “The Coldest Wallet” the Ngrave Zero is new, so new, in fact that as of writing this it’s not out (due later this month). It’s party piece is that it communicates using 1-way QR code rather than USB.

The start-up spun out of Imec who’re well known and respected as a security research company, and that’s not all - they’ve also come up with a clever set of two encoded stainless steel sheets for backup phrases which are pretty much indestructible. Price is a little unknown at the moment. I’m on the mailing list to find out :+1:

Ngrave Zero, cost TBC. https://www.ngrave.io


Ledger Nano [Model X and S]

Super well known and battle tested, the Ledger series of hardware wallets are a go-to for many. The device supports over 30 cryptocurrencies. It looks straight forward, like USB a memory stick and the latest Nano X has a nice sleek stainless body and OLED display. The previous Nano S is still a good [cheaper] buy in my opinion. Bluetooth connectivity and mobile support are the two major upgrades that the Ledger Nano X has over the Ledger Nano S, which perhaps don’t warrant the higher price in real terms?

Nano X, around £120. Nano S, around £55. https://shop.ledger.com


KeepKey

Produced by industry heavyweights Shapeshift, the KeepKey is similar size to the Ledger Nano, but in my opinion, it has a better/easy to read display. I particularly like the sleekness and simplicity of this device.

It synchronises directly with a Shapeshift wallet which gives seamless access for exchanging crypto. Two fairly interesting quirks with this device are: it’s usable only when connected via USB to an internet-connected computer and it needs 3rd party software to match features delivered by others, e.g. the Trezor (listed next) or Ledger.

KeepKey, around £25. https://shapeshift.com/keepkey


Trezor [Model T and Trezor One]

The Trezor is produced by Satoshi Labs. They were the first mainstream hardware wallet provider in the world and the the Model T is their latest model. It features a nifty touch screen interface and wide cryptocurrency support.

I don’t have much experience with this device, but like the Ledger comparison it seems like the latest model has similar features to the Trezor One. The Model T is about three times the price so I’d be tempted to save my money and bag the cheaper one.

Trezor T, around £180. Trezor One, around £60. https://trezor.io


Corazon Titanium [for those that got in early?]

Wow, now we’re onto a rather expensive device. This one is milled beautifully out of aerospace grade aluminium. It does look good to me. However, for £580 (ouch!) you get essentially the same hardware and software as the Trezor Model T, is this the Vertu of hardware wallets? Probably not one for me right now. Manufactured in partnership with GRAY and Trezor, it’s got good pedigree and hopefully great support.

Corazon Titanium, £580. https://gray.inc/collections/corazon-wallet

PS. If you’re thinking that this version isn’t bling enough, they do a GOLD version which is a whopping £1247 and limited to only 100 pieces.


Wrap up thoughts

Safety/security is always on our minds when keeping assets in storage. It’s pretty well known that USB devices or other hardware devices can be compromised before they reach your doormat. Maybe modern software wallets like MEW or Argent.xyz could be more secure? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Peace.

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Nice roundup. Software wallets are scary because of the constant possibility of compromise vs a limited window for hardware wallets (during setup), which you can also mostly mitigate by ensuring you reset the key when you receive the device to one that you generate elsewhere (offline, and definitely not on the device!) and double check.

Obviously the most secure is a truly cold wallet with an offline (perhaps even manual) way of generating the key via seed words or similar that means that until you come to want to access the funds the key has literally never had a chance to be compromised. This is what you want if you have serious money in crypto.

I tend to recommend a cold wallet(s) for majority of holdings if relevant plus something like a Ledger for a bit of day to day usage/spending, however if the amounts are small enough you could probably get away with Metamask/Argent/MEW, depending on your risk appetite.

EEVBlog did some quite interesting teardowns on Tresor and Ledger Nano hardware (Tresor also responded to the teardown of their device and the fact they don’t use a secure processor- link in description, but ultimately it’s the open source Tresor vs more secure Ledger hardware… interesting dilemma as someone who likes security AND open source…)

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i always wonder if i could learn some memory technique and just remember a secret key that way… :grimacing:

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Some people do claim to do that! I’d probably rather store bits of the key somewhat obfuscated in different places or encoded instructions to get at the key or something, wouldn’t quite trust myself to remember it…

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yeah, i’ve previously forgotten a 4 digit pin code for a bank card i’d used for years. so probably not a good idea!

@cdm thanks for this review… I’ll see gold one and raise you a diamond encrusted ledger (spotted Consensus 2018 of course)…

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Very very shiny and appropriately priced for early 2018 BTC/USD, back then a snip at 49k Euros… later in 2018 however :boom:

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NOTE: I am pretty sure that I am wrong about this, DO NOT DO THE FOLLOWING:

Here’s what you do:

  1. Get the english BIP 39 word list: https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0039/english.txt
  2. pick a number between 1 and 2048
  3. select a pattern (every 7th, fibbonachi, etc)
  4. pick a final number between 1 and 2048
  5. memorize your selections from steps 2-4
  6. on the word list, start at the number selected in step 2, this is your first seed word
  7. follow your pattern until you reach 11 words
  8. your last word is the one at the number selected in step 3
  9. congrats, you know have a seed that’s 100% memory accessible
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@danny if someone suspects you used that method it would surely be meaningfully non-random though?

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Depends on the pattern you chose I think. So if, for instance, I choose note offsets from Mary Had a Little Lamb, would that be in a brute force attack? What about the bassline of Pink Floyd’s Money (with it’s 7/4 time signature)? How about the 7-10th Fibonacci numbers looped until you hit your target number of words? Or the 100-103rd?

Add that to the entropy of the numbers that you pick for the first and last word and I think this is a solid solution, as long as you don’t pick a really simple pattern (looking at you 123456).

Any thoughts on this @klaus?

*EDIT:
I tried to calculate the musical notes and realized that while there are infinite songs in theory, the space is actually very limited. Most melodies stay within 3 octaves of its root and note-to note deltas are typically within ± 6. On top of that, many melodies are reused or would be rendered identical when stripping away note length.

TL;DR I’m pretty sure that this whole scheme will fail as there are finite at-hand patterns that are easy for a person to remember/derive.

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