Recently, I managed to get hold of a popular cold wallet for cryptocurrencies – the Ledger Nano S – for my Dad, as he was looking to potentially take his cryptos off the exchanges in the future. Here is my first impressions of the product.
Cold wallet? You mean its ice cold?
Well, of course not. There are generally 2 types of crypto wallets, Hot and Cold wallets.
Hot wallets are generally software-based. Basically you download a wallet software on your computer or mobile phone and viola! You can send and receive cryptocurrencies from your computer / mobile phone. The upside of this is that it is fast and convenient. The downside is one day you might download some malware or get hacked and poof! All your cryptocurrencies are gone.
Enter the cold wallet. These are hardware or physically based. They can be dedicated hardware wallets like the Ledger Nano S, or even paper based. Cold wallets are inherently more secure as the keys are stored offline. For more information about crypto wallets (how they work and the various types of products out there), Blockgeeks has a pretty comprehensive article on that.
Looks like somebody took a page out of Apple’s product box design
The Ledger Nano S is approximately the size of a regular thumbdrive and works like one. It connects to your computer via the micro USB cable provided. It also has a built in LED display with 2 hardware buttons to scroll through menus on the wallet as well as input your 4 digit security pin each time you plug in the wallet into your computer. It supports around 30 cryptocurrencies at the moment, including the popular ones like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. Full specifications found here.
First Time Setup:
When you plug it into your computer the first time, it will take you through the setup process automatically. Do note that if it doesn’t, it means that your wallet is used and be wary about using it.
The setup process is simple enough, it just needs you to set a 4 digit security pin mentioned earlier as well as copy down 24 words on a recovery sheet provided in the box. These 24 words will be prompted to you during the recovery process so that only the legitimate owner of the wallet can recover the wallet data, so do keep this in a safe place.
Once that’s done, all that’s left is to download the wallet companion software and you’re done. The first party companion app runs on Google Chrome (They have released Bitcoin and Ethereum apps on Chrome, Ripple is a standalone Windows program). I only tested the product on the first party software provided by Ledger, but it purportedly works with many other compatible 3rd party software as it is a Open-source wallet.
The wallet comes pre-installed with Bitcoin (Bitcoin Cash as well) and Ethereum compatibility. For other cryptocurrencies, you will have to install them yourself using the first party Ledger Manager app, which also runs on Chrome.
I found the setup and app installation process fuss-free and intuitive. The first party apps are clean and simple to use. The hardware menus were easy to navigate using the 2 button system once get the hang of it. The thumb drive form factor makes it ultra portable and with the key ring or lanyard provided in the box, you can easily carry it anywhere.
Ledger Nano S is a simple entry level crypto wallet for consumers. If you are looking to secure your cryptocurrencies outside of the dodgy exchanges, you can certainly consider this. It is also one of the cheaper options on the market compared to others like the Trezor or Ledger Blue that sport more security features.
The Ledger Nano S is currently available for 58 euros (plus 53 euros shipping to Singapore :O) from the Ledger website or from authorised distributors for SGD 150 (I’ve come across 1 distributor with a SGD 130 price but those were sold out)
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.
PSA: Do note that transferring cryptocurrencies from one place to another (from exchanges to exchanges or to your wallet) does involve transaction fees. The miners do take a cut from verifying your transaction. I did not realise this previously until I played around with the companion app.