What is a Hardware Wallet?
A hardware wallet is an actual piece of hardware which you can use to store the private keys to your wallet address. Your private keys are essentially the keys to your funds.
Hardware wallets represent the ultimate in cryptocurrency security, especially if you take precautions and keep a secure copy of your passcode.
If you do this, the only way you are going to lose money is if you are literally held up at gunpoint by someone who knows you hold some cryptocurrency because a hacker would need your pin and your hardware device to take your cryptocurrency. Even then, he would have to restore the wallet on a different computer before you do.
The beauty of hardware wallets is that even if your computer is compromised your private keys are safe, as the wallet keeps the private keys away from the internet and the transactions are confirmed by the device itself. The following is a comparison of two of the “big three” hardware wallets, the other one being the Ledger Nano S.
The Ledger Nano S is a direct competitor of Trezor and KeepKey, but for the sake of this review, we’re going to focus on two types of hardware wallets. However, the Ledger supports more coins than the two we’re reviewing. If you own many coins, opting for the Ledger is a good decision. Lastly, the Ledger Nano S is the only one of the wallets on this list which has closed source firmware.
The Trezor was the first hardware wallet on the market, and it is regarded very highly. The Trezor was for a long time the only hardware wallet available and for this reason, it established prominence and awareness. Currently, it supports Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), DASH, Zcash (ZEC), Bitcoin Cash / Bcash (BCH), Bitcoin Gold (BTG), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), ERC-20 Tokens, Expanse (EXP), UBIQ (UBQ), NEM (XEM), Namecoin, Dogecoin.
Despite being the first hardware wallet, the Trezor is just as secure, if not more secure, than all other hardware wallets that came after it. Realistically, all hardware wallets do an incredible job at protecting your funds, and you would have to be the victim of quite a sophisticated hacker or social engineer in order to lose your funds.
The Trezor was brought to market in 2014 and the company behind it are Satoshi Labs, who also created Coinmarketcap.org as well as Slush Pool. Because the Trezor has been around the longest it has the largest number of third-party integrations.
The Trezor is a small, key-sized device that hooks up to your computer and is safe to use even if your computer is compromised. It is compatible with Mac. Windows, Linux, and Android.
The Trezor is even compatible with certain exchanges such as Bitstamp, so you can withdraw and deposit straight to the exchange. Some other features of the Trezor are 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) as well as the ability to log in without a password.
It also offers password management services through Dropbox, WordPress, and Google. Therefore, apart from protecting Bitcoins, the device also becomes a comprehensive solution to protect your online assets and passwords.
The Trezor costs $99 which is a standard price for a hardware wallet. It currently supports over 15 cryptocurrencies. The Trezor does not look sleek or modern like other hardware wallets, but is designed to look secure and functional, with squared edges and a dark vault like look. This is more a matter of preference.
The KeepKey is a newer addition to the hardware wallet market, having been launched in 2015. The KeepKey was initially marketed at $239, but subsequently, the price was brought down to the more reasonable $99 so it could directly compete with the Trezor.
It certainly does not have anything that would justify being more expensive than the Trezor by a 2.5 multiplier.
The design and ease of use are definitely better on the KeepKey. It is more modern and intuitive. Though security professionals will no doubt prefer the no-nonsense functional design of the Trezor, the majority of users are swayed by a neat and friendly user interface.
The KeepKey is larger and more durable than the Trezor and is a pleasure to use. It is bigger and it not really meant to be carried around.
The KeepKey is easy to set up and feels more solid, being made of aluminum as opposed to the plastic of Trezor.
KeepKey is actually a port of the code and firmware of the Trezor, and for all intents and purposes they are functionally the same. KeepKey requires Chrome extensions as opposed to the Trezor, which supports more platforms and browsers. KeepKey is integrated with ShapeShift which makes the experience even more seamless and integrated.
KeepKey supports 6 cryptocurrencies at present and works with Electrum and Mycelium. In terms of how it works it is pretty much the same as the Trezor, which makes sense given that it is based on the same software.
The wallet comes with a unique recovery sentence/passphrase along with a pin to the device, much like all hardware wallets. If you forget the pin you can recover the device using the recovery sentence.
Like the Trezor, you can add another word to the recovery sentence. This is an advanced feature that can be great for additional security.
Trezor v KeepKey Summary
In truth, there is really very little separating Trezor and KeepKey technology. In terms of security, they are practically identical.
Cryptocurrency specialists often squabble about the technical details of which is more secure. The reality is that if you keep your keys on any hardware device they are practically immune right now.
Hackers are focused on phishing scams and online exchanges as opposed to targeting security specialists who know what they are doing. While there are many stories of stolen bitcoins, you will be hard-pressed to find many, if any, tales of a hacked hardware wallet because at this stage it is not really possible.
The KeepKey looks nicer and has a better feel and user experience, but it does not have the support or integrated services that the Trezor does. It also does not support as many cryptocurrencies, and Trezor has been around longer and is a more secure service in general.
Additionally, the Trezor is easily portable while the KeepKey has to stay at home, which is an important factor. You can bring it with you, just not in your pocket.
The Trezor is a better option by a slight margin, unless a neat interface and user experience is important to you. But there is no doubt that the KeepKey is a little slicker and more aesthetically pleasing than the Trezor. There are no huge differences between these two dependable hardware wallets.
Last update on 2018-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API