The Trezor, Nano and Keepkey are the three hardware wallet heavyweights. They are the most well known and established and they each have distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Hardware wallets represent the ultimate in cryptocurrency security and it is important to choose the correct one and to understand how it works. You still need to observe good security practices in order to keep your hardware wallet safe, though it certainly makes security a lot easier.
The term “Trezor” translates to “Vault” in many Slavic languages. It was created by a Czech startup known as Satoshi Labs. The Trezor has been on the market longer than any other hardware wallet.
As it was the first hardware wallet it has established market prominence and the most integration with third party applications. The Trezor team is known and trusted, and this is of vital importance in the cryptocurrency industry which is rife with scams.
The Trezor is neither the best looking nor the most intuitive of wallets. It is angled and made of plastic, with a basic screen. At the time, all that was on the developers’ minds was security as opposed to aesthetics and user experience.
This is not to say that it is complicated to use or difficult to set up, but it loses out compared to other wallets in terms of its neat features and slickness, and other wallets put user experience first. The Trezor is also a little more difficult to set up compared to the other two hardware wallets.
The Trezor retails at $99 and supports a total of 15 cryptocurrencies, which is more than the KeepKey but less than the Ledger Nano S. The Trezor was released in 2014 without any breaches or hacks to the technology.
The Trezor is held by many to be the most secure of all 3 wallets. It also has integration with many cryptocurrency payment methods as well as exchanges such as Bitstamp.
Ledger Nano S
The Ledger Nano was a tiny smart card device with no screen. The Ledger Nano has been discontinued and replaced with the Ledger Nano S.
The Ledger Nano S is in the shape of the USB device and is encased in stainless steel. It is far more stylish than the Trezor and is less clunky. Both are fairly resistant to damage, but the Ledger is more so due to its stainless steel design.
The Ledger requires Google Chrome to function properly, unlike the Trezor. Both are compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. One important area where the Ledger Nano S excels is in the number of cryptocurrencies it supports.
The Ledger supports 24 cryptocurrencies as opposed to the 15 supported by the Trezor. However, the Ledger Nano S only has enough memory for 5 applications, and you can really only use 4 cryptocurrencies at any one time.
Just like the Trezor, the Nano S has two buttons, keeping it very simple. This is basically used to confirm transactions sent from the wallet on your computer.
To make a payment you need to physically press two buttons at the same time. This means that a hacker needs your hardware device to steal your funds, and cannot remotely authenticate a transaction by hacking into your hardware wallet.
One area where the Ledger Nano S loses out to the Trezor is the additional passphrase support. Trezor users can add another word to their 24-word recovery phrase for extra protection.
Nano users cannot, though the team says this will be a future feature. This is a deal-breaker for many security specialists, though not for average users. It means you can have multiple cryptocurrency accounts on Trezor, with the passphrase being the unique identifier for each account.
The KeepKey was launched in late 2015, and it has a more premium feel to it. It is the biggest of the 3 devices and has by far the best user interface, the best packaging and gives the best user experience overall.
The KeepKey is also the easiest to set up and comes with some additional features. The KeepKey is actually a port of the Trezor’s code and firmware, and there is no major difference between the two wallets from a security standpoint, aside from the design. The KeepKey can be thought of as more like a miniature computer designed for the storage of cryptocurrencies.
Unfortunately, the Keepkey is new and has yet to establish trust in the cryptocurrency market. Additionally, it only supports 6 cryptocurrencies right now. More will be added gradually with time, as adding cryptocurrency support is quite a difficult task.
It also lacks a web wallet. Aside from this it is just as secure as the Trezor. The Keepkey is too large to carry around and must be left at home.
In terms of security, all of these wallets are roughly the same. All good hardware wallets are practically invincible for all intents and purposes. They all feature a pin to access the recovery code (a 24-word key phrase) on the device itself.
All transactions from the computer have to be verified by each device. In other words, there is no difference between the 3 in terms of the intended purposes, as they all do the job perfectly.
Security specialists may quibble over certain features, but realistically people are far more likely to lose the device and password than for their devices to get hacked somehow. The devices are immune to brute force attacks, so hackers really need to get your pin and your device.
In terms of functionality, the Trezor is the most secure, easy to use and simple. It has been around the longest and has been integrated with other platforms.
It is also easy to carry around. The software is also the best and allows information to be synced with Dropbox and WordPress for password and transaction management.
The KeepKey and the Nano are not far off and are the same in many ways. They take user experience into account and are definitely slicker and more modern than the old fashioned, no-nonsense design of Trezor.
Ironically, although “trezor” means “vault” it is constructed out of plastic and the other two wallets feel more solid in the hand.
It is unfortunate that the Keepkey is a little too large to be portable and this will turn off many users, though it has by far the best user interface, packaging and setup process. They all retail at roughly the same price.
Last update on 2018-06-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API