Many cryptocurrency investors still opt for free online wallets when it comes to storing their Bitcoins and other digital tokens (over a thousand tokens can be stored!). This is beginning to change, however, as individuals realize the potential for security breaches. Hardware wallets like he Trezor offer offline storage of cryptocurrency and extra layers of protection. These small handheld devices let you manage your tokens almost anywhere you go without depending upon a third party such as a cryptocurrency exchange. Here’s a look at the Trezor and the pros and cons of owning this hardware wallet.
What is a Trezor Hardware Wallet for Cryptocurrency?
We should briefly explain the concept behind hardware wallets before we move on to a detailed look at the Trezor. Hardware wallets are popular, but a large portion of the cryptocurrency community is still unfamiliar with them and the advantages they can offer. Cryptocurrency is a digital asset, and that makes it especially vulnerable to phishing scams, hacking attempts, and malware. There are people out there who eagerly look for opportunities to steal coins from someone that has used weak security measures to protect their stash. The bottom line is that security risks are a reality.
When you first begin buying digital tokens there is a lot of information to process. First and foremost you have to decide how you will manage your tokens. The great thing about the Trezor and other hardware wallets is that they give you a tangible piece of equipment to manage your tokens. Having something in the palm of your hand makes digital currency seem more real. When you start treating it like fiat, you will be more committed to protecting it. Safeguarding your cryptocurrency is your responsibility.
Hardware wallets provide the maximum protection for your digital tokens. Other wallets store your private keys in the Cloud or on your computer. These private keys are what let you access your wallet and the cryptocurrencies you hold. You already understand that any information held on your computer or on the server of an exchange is vulnerable to attack. If a thief were to gain access to your private keys, your coins are going to be taken. Tracking down a cryptocurrency thief can be practically impossible.
A hardware wallet keeps your private keys on a physical device that is in your possession at all times. You can carry it in your pocket or wear it on a chain around your neck. You can lock it up in your safe at home and take it out whenever you need to use it. You are the only one who can access your private keys unless you willingly let someone else have them. When your computer is exposed to an attack, your private keys will still be safe because they are only stored on your hardware device.
The Trezor was developed by SatoshiLabs and has a retail price of $99. It is really nothing more than a USB dongle. What it does is add an extra level of authentication when you send Bitcoin as a form of payment.
The way the Trezor is designed makes it possible to use the device on any computer with a USB port, even ones that would be considered unsafe. It provides protection against things like keyloggers which can capture your private keys when they are entered in. Host PCs that have been compromised are still no threat to the Trezor. Attackers are still not able to obtain your private keys.
This hardware wallet is often referred to as a vault because of its name. Trezor is the Czech word for vault, and SatoshiLabs is a Czech company. The company claims that Trezor utilizes a number of safety features which are designed to protect your private keys, so lets take a look at how the device works and some of its high points.
Unboxing Your Trezor Hardware Wallet
The Trezor is about the same size as a USB drive. It’s a little bit wider than one of these sticks and ships to you in a very small box. The container inside the box which contains the Trezor is black and wrapped in plastic. Remove the plastic and then you will be able to open the box.
You will notice before you open the box that there is a holographic sticker on the plastic. If this sticker is missing or appears to be tampered with in any way, do not proceed with your unboxing. This could mean that your wallet has been compromised. You will need to report this immediately to Trezor support so that they can advise you of how to proceed. The box is also glued pretty tight so you should be able to see any damage if someone has tried to open it.
Inside the box you will find the following items:
1 Trezor hardware wallet
1 USB to Micro USB Cable
The Trezor comes in white, black, and gray. It measures 2.4” X 1.2” X 0.2” and weighs just half an ounce. SatoshiLabs claims that the device is water resistant, but we wouldn’t advise you to check that out.
The power behind the Trezor is an ARM Cortex M3 processor that has a speed of 120 MHz. The unit has an OLED screen that features a resolution of 128 X 64 pixels. The display is clear and bright, and it can be read under a variety of lighting conditions.
You will notice that there is a Micro USB port on the bottom of the device. This is where you will connect the device to a PC for power and access to the Cloud. There is no battery in the device and it only works when connected to a power source via the USB.
The overall construction of the Trezor is a little disappointing. It seems fine around the edges, but the middle of the device feels a little weak. It is too easy to flex and it also makes a kind of creaking noise that is not encouraging. Even so, with proper care it will probably hold up to some heavy use, and the finish of the device resists scratching if you care about that sort of thing.
We also would be hesitant to trust the lanyard that is provided with the device. It just doesn’t seem strong, and the loop on the Trezor that holds it looks as though it could break under minimal stress.
Setup for Your Trezor Hardware Wallet
Once you have unboxed the unit, it is time for setup. We’re not going to mislead you. The setup process for this hardware wallet is a little frustrating compared to other models. It’s necessary, though, before you can start using your wallet.
You will start by connecting the device to a USB drive on your computer. You should then navigate to MyTrezor where you will need to download a browser plugin. The device will prompt you and go through the process automatically, but you will still have to grant permission for the browser plugin to install.
After the plugin is installed, you will be asked by the Trezor to create a PIN. A blurred keypad will appear on your computer screen while a box of nine numbers appears on the Trezor. Each time you click on the blurred keypad to select a number, the Trezor rearranges the position of numbers on the keypad. This is designed to evade keyloggers. So, you will have to use the keypad display on the Trezor as a guideline for where to click on your screen.
Next, you will be required to create a 24-word seed for the device. This is a very important step. That seed is what will allow you to regain access to your wallet if you lose the device or get locked out. The seed is randomly generated by the device. Write it down and put it somewhere that it cannot be lost. We know that some people even put them in a safety deposit box at the bank. If you lose the seed, regaining your wallet is going to be impossible.
That’s pretty much it as far as setup goes. The entire process should take you no more than 10-15 minutes to complete.
Using Your New Trezor Wallet
Security and ease of use. These are the two things that SatoshiLabs wanted to accomplish with the Trezor. Even though it can be a pain to setup, the device is very user-friendly. Even those with little or no hardware wallet experience will be able to master the device with very little practice.
There is actually very little to do once you have the wallet setup. You simply have to enter the pin code and then approve the transaction on the device. You don’t have to use the Trezor to receive Bitcoins. It really wasn’t designed for that. This is a device that is meant to hold a large cache of Bitcoin and keep it safe. For active sending and receiving, another wallet will probably serve you better.
At the time of this review, there is only Windows, Mac, and Linux support for the Trezor. There is no mobile support offered at this time, but that could change in time. You can, however, use the device with a tablet or phone that runs the Windows OS.
Our Opinion of the Trezor
The Trezor hardware cryptocurrency is actually a hard one to evaluate. On one hand, it works just as advertised and certainly provides a strong method of storing Bitcoin. On the other, it’s not the best hardware wallet out there for individuals who are active with their digital tokens.
Security for this device is good, even though he setup process to prevent keylogging is a bit tedious. We like that you can use it with any computer and have confidence that your private keys will remain safe. Even if the host computer has been attacked in some fashion, you are still good to go.
The housing of the device is a little weak, and we can see where breakage might be a risk. The good news is that the $99 price point of the device is a little cheaper that other units. Still, it is an investment and the material construction should be better in our opinion.
Simple to use & Supports a big list of Cryptos
Less expensive than some wallets
Prevents private key theft with features such as keylogging protection
No mobile support