Good / The Ledger Nano S has everything you need from a non-descript hardware Bitcoin wallet with a viewable screen, consistent updates, easy setup, support for multiple cryptocurrencies, and great security. It also doubles as a two-factor authenticator which is awesome.
Bad / The smaller price means some compromises like a small screen and fiddly buttons.
Verdict / If you want a hardware Bitcoin wallet that can double as a two-factor device but cannot afford the $99 KeepKey device, or you want to store Zcash, I would say totally go out and buy the Ledger Nano S.
Intro to Ledger Nano S
The Ledger Nano S is probably the cheapest Bitcoin hardware wallet out there with a display functionality. It’s only $69 on Amazon, which is significantly cheaper than both the Trezor and KeepKey bitcoin hardware wallets. However, does that mean there are compromises? Well, maybe.
Starting out, the way the device works is pretty similar to other Bitcoin hardware wallets. The way it works is that you connect the Ledger Nano S to your computer and enter in the pin code on the device to gain access to your wallet on the Ledger App (chrome extension) or other comparable software like Mycelium, Electrum, Copay and more.
In case you were wondering, Trezor uses a random pin system which might be more secure, but the Nano’s system of security works fine for now and could be improved in future updates. The way it works is that your keys are stored in an encrypted chip locked by your pin code which is never exposed to your host computer.
One of the better things about the Ledger Nano S is that it has functionality with the new cryptocurrency Zcash, whereas even other hardware Bitcoin wallets that support multiple cryptocurrencies like KeepKey do not. The Ledger Nano S also supports Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Dash. In addition, one of the COOLEST things about the Ledger Nano S is that you can also use it as a multifactor key with FidoU2f. This means you can just leave your Nano S plugged in, and when you sign into Google or other two-factor authenticated accounts, you will just log in seamlessly.
In order to secure your Bitcoins on the Nano S, you need to write down the provided seed code passphrase by toggling through each seed code with the device’s two buttons. You can verify and send payments as well as enter in the passcode with the provided display and hardware buttons. If you need to recover your Bitcoin, it can be a bit of a pain, however, to enter the passphrase manually, but the process should work OK.
While the security of the Ledger Nano S is good, and the device is completely functional with a good variety of supported cryptocurrencies, and even powered by consistent updates from the company, the feel of the device as well as the construction might be a bit lacking when compared to more premium and expensive devices like the KeepKey hardware Bitcoin wallet.
A lot of people think that the buttons are a bit squishy and that the construction of the device doesn’t feel premium or especially ergonomic.The screen is definitely a bit too small, which makes entering in your passcode or dealing with your keyphrase tricky, but as I mentioned, most bitcoin hardware wallets have small screens (but the Ledger Nano S is the smallest).
I’ve even felt the same thing about my Trezor device with its small screen, and since this device is so cheap, these semi-poor usability ergonomics are to be expected. The look of the device is decent since it mainly just looks like a fancy USB hard drive–but that’s also good for it to remain inconspicuous.
Ledger Nano S Review Conclusion
The Ledger Nano S is a great first time Bitcoin hardware wallet. While some parts of the device might feel a bit cheap or a little tedious (like putting in the passcode with two buttons), the security used with the free chrome app as well as support for various cryptocurrencies besides Bitcoin with support for use as a two-factor device as well make the Ledger Nano S very attractive for under $70.