Good / The KeepKey Bitcoin hardware wallet is based on the trusted Trezor open-source software. It’s sharp OLED screen, smart, sleek portable design, easy one-button navigation, easy first-time set-up, and compatibility with various other cryptocurrencies like Namecoin, Dogecoin, Dash, and Testnet, make it one of the best hardware Bitcoin wallets for the small price of $99.
Bad / Some users complain that the screen scratches easily, that the button feels mushy, and that it’s tricky to use with Linux.
Verdict / If you have $99 and want to secure your Bitcoin fortune, I would definitely recommend KeepKey as one of the best Bitcoin hardware wallets. The screen is fantastic, and due to the design it looks like there is no bezel. It’s much easier to use than the Trezor (visually) and the included app on the chrome store is very easy to use.
Just make sure to hold onto your passphrase!
Introduction to KeepKey
KeepKey is one of the few hardware bitcoin wallets out there. It came out in 2015 for $239 based on the foundation of the Trezor open-source software. The KeepKey uses a 256×64 3.12″ OLED screen which is better than the Trezor OLED with 128×64 pixels.
The KeepKey is a small, sleek little box that can (mostly) fit in your pocket. The basic functionality is that you connect the device to your computer, load up a chrome extension, update the device, and you can start storing Bitcoin, Litecoin, Namecoin, Dogecoin, Dash, Testnet, and Ethereum (on the PC beta app).
The small little device makes storing Bitcoin very secure since the device doesn’t really have an operating system (so your Bitcoins can’t be hacked or stolen like through some other app that requires more software input and passwords), and it doesn’t even use drivers which make it comparable to something like a keyboard or mouse.
If you happen to break or lose the KeepKey, you’re fine since you can restore your Bitcoin with your passphrase. The reason is that the actual Bitcoins aren’t stored inside the device, instead of some sort of encryption code that gives you access to your Bitcoin.
However, the most important part is holding on to your passphrase for KeepKey since this is what lets you restore access to your Bitcoins in case you lose it. DO NOT store this information online.
Keep your passphrase written down in a safe place or two. Because if someone got hold of your passphrase from some sort of online database like Dropbox, LastPass, or even your computer (especially now after the CIA leaked all their malicious tools)– a hacker could potentially claim your device as lost and steal your Bitcoin with your passphrase.
So the KeepKey’s idea isn’t really that innovative–but is it a better more polished device? Maybe. It’s similar to the Trezor device before it, software and all. But It’s still a good idea, and there are a few things about it that are unique to give it advantage.
Is KeepKey A Good Bitcoin Hardware Wallet?
So what makes KeepKey a good pick? Well, we already mentioned the high-quality screen. Another good thing about the build quality is that it’s slightly larger than the Trezor which makes it more noticeable in your pocket and a bit heftier. It’s also a bit easier to hold than the Trezor, but the Trezor device might be a bit more portable / forgettable if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s also fairly inconspicuous since it justs looks like a thumb stick.
However, while the screen is good quality and very easy to read with a wider screen, a lot of people using the device have noticed that it does scratch pretty easily. If you’re carrying it around in your pocket with keys or being rough with it, you might be annoyed with the scratches, but for me, I don’t have many issues since it’s usually stored somewhere safe.
You could also put a screen protector on it. Another thing to note is that the KeepKey doesn’t display currency denomination–only what you have in Bits, but this is similar to Trezor. (You can’t see your Bitcoin in USD unless you’re looking at your computer).
The USB cable that comes with the KeepKey is another “weak point”–to sure some users, but not a huge deal at all. I can’t tell you how many USB type cables I have laying around the house. The KeepKey is compatible with USB 2.0 cables. I found that the USB cable provided with the device is nice, with a fabric type of braid that is a great length that lets me keep the device on the table while connected to my desktop. I think people are just being wankers!
Some users find that the buttons are a bit mushy, and I agree–but I have the same problem with the Trezor buttons (pushing both buttons to update is a royal pain in the arse), but since KeepKey only has one button, I found it’s a bit easier to use and update and it’s not really that hard to use (I’ve actually had problems updating my Trezor due to this two-button design). I like how you can use the button in the interface by holding it down to confirm things. It feels “gamey”.
Navigating the interface is easy and connecting it to the Chrome app as well as updating the device should be without frustration. Keep in mind that to use Ethereum as a currency, you have to use the beta app for PC. In fact, there are also some users out there complaining that KeepKey isn’t very friendly with Linux/dash whereas Trezor performs better.
KeepKey Review Conclusion
So is the KeepKey one of the best bitcoin hardware wallets out there?
Yes, without a doubt it is. It’s the sleekest, easiest to use, multi-cryptocurrency hardware wallet for the price. Should you get it if you have a Trezor already? Well, maybe not. It’s not fundamentally different in most ways, but the recovery process is a bit more secure (you don’t even need to store your private keys on KeepKey. Simply wipe after each use, then do recovery when you want to spend.) In addition, the larger screen makes mistakes with keywords less of an issue. You can even choose between using 12,18, or 24-word passphrases!
Are there a few problems? Sure there are some problems like a scratchable screen, mushy buttons, Linux compatibility issues, faulty included USB cable, and some features still being updated (Ethereum not supported yet, only on beta PC app)–but the overall core hardware of the device is very solid. The screen is very easy to read, the interface and setup easy to navigate, and the one-button control is understandable.
So unless you’re a Linux user (get the Trezor instead for now), I think the KeepKey hardware Bitcoin wallet is a great device to pick up to securely store your Bitcoins.