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A Hands-On Review of the Keepkey Hardware Wallet

Hardware wallets, like the cryptocurrency stored inside them, can provoke strong feelings in their owners. Hodlers like what they like, and that’s the stop of the matter. If the first hardware wallet you sold was once a Ledger, you’re in all likelihood Ledger for life. Likewise if you’re in Team Trezor. Keepkey, which completes the holy trifecta of hardware wallets, is less famous than its siblings, however the sleek black plastic machine still packs a punch.

Is Keepkey a Keeper?

At Consensus New York, my budget wouldn’t stretch to the €49,000 diamond-encrusted Nano on display, however there was once house in my bag and my coronary heart for a Keepkey. At $129, it’s a little pricier than the Ledger Nano or Trezor One, but more cost-effective than the swish new Trezor Model T. I need to in all likelihood add a warning at this stage, incidentally: the overview you’re about to examine is painfully long, which is a reflection of how lengthy it took to get this rattling pockets working. But we’ll get to all that in due course. First, let’s begin at the start…

Ever given that remaining year, Keepkey has been the property of Shapeshift, who offered up the company, enabling Keepkey users to trade between cryptos barring exposing their non-public keys online. Keepkey promises “bank-grade security,” anything that means, and a gadget so handy that “even your grandmother can defend her bitcoin wealth,” which appears a little patronizing. If gran used to be smart ample to purchase bitcoin, she’s simply received the perspicacity to work a paper wallet.

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Behodler

It’s funny how a lot form, as a substitute than function, influences our purchasing choices – even when we’re purchasing a cryptocurrency pockets that’s destined to be consigned to the darkish recesses of a safe. Beauty is in the eye of the behodler, however there’s a sturdy case for asserting that Keepkey’s hardware wallet (they solely make one) is extra fetching than a Trezor, and arguably smarter than the Nano too, even if it lacks the latter’s brushed metal exterior.

The Keepkey Chrome app.

Visit the Keepkey keep and you’ll discover simply two merchandise to pick from: a single, ordinary Keepkey and a container of 50 which retails for $6,450. Perfect for the security conscious trader who likes to keep their shitcoins on separate sticks in separate vaults. The light-weight and plasticy experience of the system is somewhat tempered by the nice of the USB cable that comes bundled with it. It feels luxurious to the touch, however it’s here, after installing the Keepkey Chrome browser app, that I stumble upon my first problem: it has a standard USB connection but my Macbook Pro does not. That’s Apple’s fault, not Keepkey’s, however it’s a bummer when you’re on the road, as I determined myself at the time of writing this review, and for that reason without access to a USB-thunderbolt adapter.

Cables. Cables everywhere.
Third Time’s a Charm

At home, 24 hours later, I plug the hardware wallet into my laptop via the thunderbolt adapter, however there’s no sign of life. I’d predicted a USB pressure to exhibit up on my Macbook Pro, or for the Chrome app to display a notification and the Keepkey to mild up, however nope. Not a peep. Figuring it would possibly simply be the thunderbolt adapter, I attempt connecting the gadget to my historic Macbook Pro, which has a USB port, but still nothing. Then I attempt my Chromebook, and as soon as again, nothing. In a second of suggestion I google “keepkey setup” and salvation arrives.

According to Keepkey’s Get Started page, you need to first open the app by using “navigating Chrome to chrome://apps/”. This is much less than intuitive, but is partly Chrome’s fault for having a crappy UI that conceals extensions and apps at the back of submenus. This does mean, however, that every time you go to use your Keepkey (if you’re as disorganized as I am) you’ll need to google “keepkey setup” to remind yourself of how you get into the damn thing.

Wait, Not So Fast…

Having successfully gotten my Chromebook to replace the Keepkey, I determine to reconnect it to my Mac and see if the laptop can now notice it. It can, and am prompted to set up my PIN and then write down my 12-word recuperation phrase. I’ve written it down once, and am simply preparing to jot down a second replica when the machine inexplicably disconnects and I’m forced to begin the entire technique all over again. After re-entering my PIN twice, I begin jotting down the new restoration phrase, when the same aspect happens. Keepkey and my thunderbolt adapter can’t appear to get along, so I resignedly reconnect it to the Chromebook.

The Keepkey interface is simple but functional.

Eventually I prevail in finding the apps area of Chrome by means of pasting the URL into my browser, whereupon I’m caused to maintain down the button on the Keepkey and plug it in to replace the firmware. When that’s done, I’m presented with a display displaying a BTC pockets set up by way of default and nothing else. I hit the plus sign to add a BCH address and then scan the QR code from my Bitcoin.com wallet. I choose $5 of bitcoin money and ship it to my Keepkey address. The charge is 3 cents. While I’m ready for the transaction to clear, the Keepkey logo lurches throughout the display in instalments. It reminds me of the handheld monochrome soccer recreation I played as a kid. Anachronistic, but comfortingly nostalgic.

Nice Device, Now How About Some Altcoin Support?

I like the format of Keepkey, and I like the cable, if it’s feasible to have affection for a USB cable, while the software program is passable. Is the gadget capable of difficult Trezor and Ledger? Sure…provided you’re happy to hodl namecoin, doge, and dash. 2016 just called and it wants its altcoins back. In equity to Keepkey, there is at least BTC, BCH, ETH, and LTC guide and native ERC20 token help is presently in beta so need to subsequently arrive. Given some of the ERC20s I’m embarrassed to own, it’s probably for the high-quality I didn’t get a danger to screenshot them in this review.

Keepkey’s biggest weak point proper now, as its crew are without doubt aware, is the scarcity of coins that can be saved on it. While the market leaders are pressing ahead with monero support, Keepkey is nonetheless way in the back of the curve. It would be excellent to have EOS, cardano, zencash and possibly some ripple for the ladies. It’s odd that there’s aid for the 295th coin with the aid of market cap (namecoin), however room for simply six out of the top 20 cryptocurrencies – or top a hundred if you wanna make that statistic even more damning.

One Keepkey, now equipped with bitcoin cash.

I’ll without a doubt preserve using the hardware wallet, using it to shop any spare BTC, BCH, and ETH I amass, however a system so handy that “even grandmother” could use it? Please. My grandmother could have mined the genesis block and she’d nevertheless battle to join this factor to her Chrome net app. I’ll preserve my Keepkey, but in my coronary heart I’ll be lusting after one of those diamond encrusted Nanos I noticed at Consensus. Hell, I’d even settle for a everyday one.

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