Best Bitcoin Hardware Wallets You Can Buy Right Now
If you’re just dipping your toes into Bitcoin, a simple web or software wallet is a good place to get started. But if you plan on storing large amounts of funds in Bitcoin, our experts recommend upgrading to a hardware wallet for extra security.
Aren’t Software Wallets and Web Wallets Good Enough?
Most of us start off using either software wallets or web wallets. Software wallets are apps that have to be downloaded to your device and store your private keys on it. Web wallets are accessed through your browser and store your private keys in the cloud. Beginners prefer these types of wallets because they are free and don't need any extra hardware to be used.
Coin.Space is a popular online Bitcoin & Litecoin wallet
While they can be reasonably secure, they cannot offer the same level of safety as hardware wallets. In the case of a software wallet, your funds may get stolen if someone hacks your device or infects it with a virus. In the case of a web wallet, you risk losing your funds if your password is stolen or if the company providing the service gets hacked. This is why our experts recommend investing in a hardware wallet.
What Is a Hardware Wallet?
Hardware wallets are physical devices that securely generate and store the private keys of your crypto wallets. Unlike smartphones and laptops, hardware wallets cannot be tampered with from the outside. This means that it’s nearly impossible for a hacker to gain access to your encrypted private key. These devices plug into your computer, and you authorize transactions by entering a PIN on the device itself.
Hardware wallets are secure because it is impossible for anyone to steal your assets without direct access to both the device and your PIN. If a hacker gains control of your computer or infects it with a virus, they will not be able to steal any of your funds. Even stealing the hardware wallet itself is not enough, as the burglar would still need to know your PIN to authorize transactions.
Keepkey is a well-known hardware wallet
Ledger Nano S
Coming in at €69.99 (including VAT), the Ledger Nano S is the most popular hardware wallet on the market.
The small, sleek-looking device comes in well-designed, premium packaging. This makes it a great choice for a gift. The package includes a USB cable, lanyard, and a sheet to write down your 24 word recovery seed.
Stylized to look like a USB flash drive, the Nano S is small, inconspicuous, and would not attract any attention in an office environment.
The device plugs into your computer via the included USB cable. The initial setup is straightforward and happens through the Ledger website. Communication between the device and your computer happens through Google Chrome apps. This means that the Nano S can be used on all operating systems that support Google Chrome and without administrator privileges. Much like the packaging, the software powering the Nano S has a refined, minimalistic look. The user interface is simple, intuitive, and easy to use.
The Nano S supports the largest selection of cryptocurrencies out of all hardware wallets. This makes it ideal for people with a diverse crypto portfolio. However, unlike other wallets, the Nano S forces you to install a special app for every cryptocurrency you want to use. Some of our experts found this quirk needlessly annoying.
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With a flash drive-like design, the Ledger Nano S can blend into any office setting
Coming in at a price of €83.49 (including VAT), the One is the most affordable offering by Trezor. The manufacturer boasts having been the very first hardware wallet maker in the world.
The packaging of the One is less sleek than that of the Nano S, but our experts praise it for its tamper-protection mechanisms. These include 2 tamper-proof stickers and packaging that is nearly impossible to open without damaging. Thus, if your Trezor One comes in unbroken packaging and has both stickers – you can be sure it hasn’t been tampered with. Inside the packaging, the One features similar contents to the Nano S.
The device is physically larger than the Nano S and looks a bit like a Tamagotchi. This makes it much more conspicuous in an office environment. On the other hand, it features a larger screen, feels nicer in the hand, and its physical buttons are easier to press.
Similarly to Ledger's offering, the initial setup happens through the company’s website and all communication with the device happens through a Google Chrome app. The software looks a bit less refined than the Nano’s, but that doesn’t make it any less functional or easy to use.
At the time of writing, the Trezor One supports Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH), Dash (DASH), Zcash (ZEC), Namecoin (NMC), Dogecoin (DOGE), and ERC-20 Tokens.
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The Trezor One’s design favors function over form
Which One Should You Choose?
At the moment of writing, in Europe, the Nano S costs €13.50 less than the One (€69.99 compared to €83.49 for Trezor’s offering).
Our experts praise the Trezor for its build quality and ergonomics. The Nano S is a bit more awkward to use, but has a more sleek design and would easily blend into an office environment.
Both wallets come with good, easy to use software packages. Some of our experts have criticized the Ledger Nano S for the fact that you need to install a separate app for every cryptocurrency you want to use.
The Ledger Nano S supports over twice as many cryptocurrencies as the Trezor One, which makes it ideal for people interested in investing in many different cryptos.
Neither wallet is objectively better than the other. Your choice will depend entirely on your situation and use-case. If you are price-conscious, want a device that can blend into an office setting, or want to trade a wide range of cryptos – the Ledger Nano S will be a good choice for you. If you value brand heritage, don’t want to install a separate app for every cryptocurrency you own, and care about function more than design – the Trezor One will be more up your alley. Whichever wallet you end up choosing, your assets will be a lot more protected than they would be otherwise.