Bitcoin is a hot topic these days, and its value is rising higher and higher. Cryptocurrency is one of the hottest emerging markets in our economy. There is no better time than now to get in on the action. Bitcoin is not the only blockchain based digital currency out there, though. There are hundreds of “Altcoins” competing for market share. Most of them are destined to fizzle and die out, but a smart and savvy investor can make some serious cash by investing in the right Altcoins while they are young and cheap. Some of these Altcoins, like Etherium or Litecoin are climbing in value quickly, up from mere cents per coin when they first were introduced. Bitcoin was the first, though, and is still the most valuable by far at over $2,500 per Bitcoin.
Investing in crytptocurrency is only one side of the coin. Since these currencies are all digital an anonymous, all it takes is being careless with your keys for a thief to go into your wallet online and steal from you. You need to keep your digital keys absolutely safe because just like cash, cyptocurrency is all about who possesses that digital key. It is not connected to your name or bank account, so there is no assurance that you will ever be able to retrieve stolen coins. This is where hardware wallets come in. These small, handheld devices store you Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies so that you do not have to worry about how to keep them safe. They come with a hard wired encryption key and they can be safely stored in a lock box, safe, or even on your keychain if you are comfortable carrying them around. They are not connected to the internet, so they are safe from online hacks. To send or store crypto coins you just plug them in to your computer, much like an SD card or external hard drive.
There are not many hardware wallets on the market right now. In this article we will go over the top five that are available today. This is still a very new product category, so check back to see new wallets as they are released and improved. If you do not see one you want to use in this list, click here to browse more.
1. Best Hardware Wallet: Trezor
Trezor is the most sophisticated hardware wallet ont the market right now and is very easy to use. No matter how unprotected yoru computer or internet connection is, your coins are safe when you store them with Trezor because your private keys are never exposed to the network when you plug it in. Trezor provides an offline environment that is totally isolated for transactions. You can verify transactions using the display screen. You can use this wallet with Windows, OS X or Linux. With a button for confirm and deny, you can easily send and receive transactions in seconds. Trezor is also open source, and technical issues are open for discussion in the developer community. You can see all of the code yourself, which prevents backdoors and makes this technology totally transparent.
- Very secure
- Display and buttons make it easy to use
- Very secure
- Relatively expensive
- More steps to use than others
- Slightly bulky
2. Best One Time Use Wallet: Opendime USB Bearer Bond Stick
This Opendime Bitcoin bond stick is an easy, quick, and disposable hardware wallet to use when you need to store some crypto coins fast. It is about the size of a dime and can fit anywhere, such as a pocket, keychain, or wallet. The keys are produced offline, and there is no 3rd party control so this is a totally safe storage option. To use, there is an onboard read file for instructions, and then you load it with however much Bitcoin you want to put on it. To withdraw, poke a paperclip into the hole on the front and it activates the private withdrawal key. Just stick it into a USB drive and you can send the coins anywhere. Once the private key is generated you can only use this device once, so it is great for favors or gifts. The private key is generated inside the device, and is never known to any human, not even you!
Because Opendime emulates a tiny USB flash drive, most mobile devices can read it as well. Inside, you’ll find text files with the payment address, and if unsealed, the private key in WIF format or a QR image that is easily scanned. You can also use a USB phone charger, or USB power pack, to check if it’s unsealed: plug it into any USB port, and the lights flash in a pattern that indicate it’s status.Once the piece has been broken out, the file contents will change and the private key will be revealed in theprivate-key.txt file and QR code image. There is no way back, and once unsealed, you should move the funds into another wallet. Import the private key (private-key.txt) into any Bitcoin wallet to be able to “sweep up” the funds and spend them.
- Relatively inexpensive
- Super small
- One time use only
- No reviews
- Expensive for a disposable product
3. Best Two Part Wallet: Digital Bitbox
Digital Bitbox is a unique wallet that uses both USB and micro SD to store and send Bitcoin. It has a native software client to prevent vulnerability from browser-based clients. The private key is kept on the high security chip in order to prevent physical extraction. This wallet is Tor and Tails OS compatible as well. it comes in a portable and very durable case and is Multisig out of the box if you wish to use it that way. Other features include smart verification and a second-factor authentication mobile app for use on iPhone and Android. This wallet is fully open source with no backdoors.
- Tor and Tails OS compatible
- Two pieces make it very secure
- Ready to use right out of the box
- Two pieces mean one may get lost
- No reviews
- Case looks kind of cheap
4. Best Simple Wallet: Yubikey NEO
Yubico makes a compact USB hardware wallets that support multiple authentication and cryptographic protocols. They are operated with a simple touch, giving you complete protection whether you are an individual or an organization. They works on any Windows, Mac or Linux operating system and on all major browsers. Yubikeys secure a wide range of applications besides Bitcoin storage, including remote access and VPN, password managers, computer login, development platforms, content management systems, popular online services, and more. You can even use them to securely log in to your Facebook, Gmail, Google, GitHub, or Dropbox accounts using the emerging FIDO Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) protocol. Hardware secure elements protect your encryption keys and keep them safe. You can personalize and configure these devices yourself as well, using open source software tools available on the Yubico website.
- Multiple options
- Can be used for individuals or businesses
- Reviewers had issues with 3rd party support for the device
- Reviewers had trouble with NFC
- May take some getting used to
5. Least Expensive: Ledger HW.1
Ledger HW.1 is the least expensive Bitcoin hardware wallet that you can find. You can choose either Classic individual wallets, Multisig with multiple wallets, or Enterprise for larger organizations and groups. You can restore losses in case you misplace the wallet using another Ledger wallet or other compatible devices. Your Bitcoins are safe in this wallet, secured by a microchip locked by a PIN code. All transactions are verified by anti-malware second factor authentication.
Price: $39.99 for two
- Very small
- Secure with PIN
- Available in Classic, Multisig or Enterprise
- No case
- Easy to lose
- Relatively expensive
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