Any Bitcoin user worth his salt needs a physical coin wallet. Physical coin wallets are used to store your private keys away from your computer, and out of the reach of would be hackers. They are a vital security feature, and they provide an excellent return on investment in terms of the safety of your coins.
Today we will be reviewing the Ledger Nano S, a new physical wallet offering from Ledger, with the welcome addition of a screen on the device itself. For your convenience, this review will be divided into multiple sections such as price, security, and the all-important screen.
Priced at €58, or around $70, this is the cheapest of the three wallets with screens that are on the market today. At this price, it is a very affordable piece of kit, as the added security benefits clearly outweigh the costs, and it has the features to more than justify its price tag, as we will see as we progress.
Security is the most important feature of any coin wallet, and is basically the whole point of the device. So let us take a look at the security features offered by the Ledger Nano S. Firstly, the Nano S features two physical buttons, which heighten the security of the device. In order to confirm a transaction, you must physically press both buttons simultaneously. That means that there is no way for a hacker to gain access to your device remotely and confirm transactions without physically being there.
The device asks the user to create a PIN code at first startup. This is a 4 digit code which is only known to the owner of the wallet, and is used to confirm your identity in a way. Co transaction can be made without inputting the PIN code first. If the code is entered incorrectly three times, the device wipes its entire content automatically.
The wallet’s main security feature, however, is the very fact that it stores your private keys offline, in a location physically controlled by you. That means that you are not vulnerable to attacks from hackers over the network, as there is nothing on your computer to hack.
However, it must be pointed out that the Nano S currently lacks passphrase support. This is an important feature since it allows you to input your own text for a 24 word recovery phrase. This is an important safety feature because it works on two levels. Firstly, if anyone steals your wallet from you, and also happens to know your 24 word recovery phrase, that by itself is not enough to activate the device. They would also need the seed, ostensibly known only to the owner. That constitutes the second layer of protection. On the bright side, Ledger plans to add this feature to the device very soon.
Another feature to note is the fact that the Nano S does not run on batteries. It is only ever fully turned on when it is plugged into your computer, as it gets its electricity from the connection. That means there can be no tampering with it while it is plugged out, and it’s fully offline.
A great importance is attached to the fact that the Nano S features a screen. Why is that so? Firstly, when you initially start up your device, it generates a recovery phrase. This is, in fact, a complete backup of your wallet. On most conventional coin wallets, such as the one you may have on your phone, the recover phrase is displayed on the screen. That is usually enough security. However, there is an added risk to this, since your phone is connected to the Internet, which means someone may gain access to your code and your coins. With the Nano S, the phrase is generated offline and displayed on the screen. It never interacts with the network, so there is no way for hackers to get at it.
The Nano S is a really solid coin wallet, with very good safety features, at a more than reasonable price. The fact that it lacks custom passphrase support shouldn’t turn you off it, since this feature is planned for the future. We couldn’t fit all the features and security protocols of the Nano S into this short review, so make sure you do your own research before committing to a purchase. Click here to check out the Ledger Nano S.