OVERALL SCORE: 7.75
- Security Tech: 9
- Application Compatibility: 8
- Product Build: 6
- Post Purchase Support: 8
Why Do I Need A Ledger Nano S, Anyway?
Hailing all the way from the Ledger laboratories bitbarricade.com is proud to bring to you our uncut and in your face review of the Ledger Nano S wallet! Yes, we spent our hard-earned money on it; and most importantly, we use it to secure our own personal cryptocurrency funds. So we know, from firsthand experience, what you can expect.
Let’s be real, the days of the masked bank robber carrying a large cloth sack into the local credit union are behind us. In this increasingly digital world, security threats to your financial life are also making the transition from what was once physical to the unseen. Arming yourself with the best blockchain security tech available, and the knowledge to use it, is critical to your financial future.
At the time of writing this review the Ledger Nano S is one of the top three premier cryptocurrency hardware wallets on the market. Priding itself being the crypto hardware wallet with the most diverse crypto- asset support portfolio, a user-friendly interface and the proprietary encryption technology to back it up; the Nano ledger makes some pretty big claims… but how does it really stack up to the hype? In this review we will be taking a deep and dirty dive into how it works, pros and cons, and our unadulterated opinion of the product.
The Basics: How The Ledger Nano S Wallet Works
The Nano S is a Bitcoin/Altcoin wallet that has the ability to store a wide array of cryptocurrency assets. It connects to a computer via a USB cable and as separate OLED display for added transaction and send address verification. The operation process is simple and similar to other top crypto wallets:
- First follow the set up instructions (download firmware, set up your PIN number, download the Bitcoin/Ethereum wallet companion apps, write down your recovery seed) … duh!
- Connect to a computer (via the provided USB cable) and input your established PIN number.
- Open either the Chrome or Chromium 50+ browser.
- Within your selected browser open either the free Bitcoin or Ethereum app you downloaded (during the set up phase).
- Using your Nano S OLED display to select the desired cryptocurrency you would like to transact in.
- Using your computer screen you are free to send/receive crypto payments and simply check your balance.
- If sending payment you will be asked to authorize that transaction (prior to sending) by verifying the amount and send-to address by clicking the two buttons located that the top of the wallet (when prompted to do so by the OLED screen).
That’s it… Easy-Peezy…. Lemon (you know the rest)!
Oh yeah, if you happen to lose your hardware wallet fear not! As long as you have your recovery seed all you have to do is order another Ledger product (or any BIP39/BIP44 compatible wallet) and restoration of your crypto is a snap.
Note: Follow the Ledger provided instructions. I’m just giving you the quick version for all the impatient people out there.
Specs On Specs On Specs
For the Nerds among us, what really makes the Ledger line of hardware wallets unique is their developed technology; the Bitcoin Open Ledger Operating System (B.O.L.O.S.). BOLOS is integrated into the Nano S line via a secure EAL 5+ chip (the same one as on your passport or credit card) and not only allows for cutting-edge device security but also provides developers a framework to build portable source code for native apps (around the secure core) without sacrificing the security of said core or each of the individual apps (shout out to all my devs out there!).
In regular people terms “BOLOS” is open source (meaning a dev can write app code for it) and that code is open for viewing to the public (which can be easily reviewed by anyone, audited and corrected should any code deficiencies be present). But the most important point is that these apps can be integrated and used on the Nano S hardware wallet WITHOUT the actual application directly interfacing with the secure chip within the wallet; meaning, the actual component that keeps your crypto safe cannot be modified… Eva…
At the time of writing this review, the Nano S supports the largest amount unique blockchain Cryptocurrencies when compared to the other top brands (28 to be exact). Ledger has recently stated that they will soon be announcing five new cryptocurrencies (per week) that the Nano S will support; in our opinion that is nothing less than outstanding. In addition to its main function (storing crypto) it also supports various applications such as FIDO® Universal Second Factor authentication standard for Dashlane, Dropbox, GitHub or Google.
Weighing in at a minimal 16.2 grams and standing at a compact 98mm x 18mm x 19mm the Nano S’ build is rather straight forward; taking a quick glance it is reminiscent of a very well-built USB drive. There are essentially two halves that compose the wallet; the first is the main plastic portion is covered in a very thin layer of composite rubberized material that contains the two navigation buttons, OLED screen and the USB input is covered in a very thin layer of composite rubberized material. The second portion is a brushed stainless steel covering that is attached by a swivel joint; on one side has the Ledger logo and the reverse reads “Vires in Numeris” (which translates “Strength in numbers”)… You have to admit, that is pretty cool.
- You get a Nano S wallet.
- You get a USB Cable.
- You get two cards that you can record your recovery seed on should your wallet ever be lost or stolen.
- You get a lanyard you carry your wallet on.
- But most importantly… you get to keep the box!
Good, The Great and the Ugly
Now let’s get into the good stuff!
Portability: We haven’t done an official weight test in comparison to the competition; however, only weighing 16 grams, it is safe to say that it does not get much lighter than this. I mean, I think even an infant is capable of taking the Nano S to and fro. Its small profile allows you to store and transport basically anywhere your heart desires. The stainless steel cover is a nice bonus to protect the USE cable connection and OLED screen. Lastly, it is very discrete (looking like a USB drive) it would take a very well-read and informed thief to even know what it is!
Open Source Code: Having open source code is awesome because you don’t have to leave take Leger’s word that your funds are secure; if you have the skill set you can literally see for yourself. Not only is this good for the consumer’s peace of mind but it allows for continuous and objective product improvement. Ledger prides itself in hosting its HW Bounty competition in which Ledger openly invites everyone (hackers, coders, etc) to hack their wallets. Anyone who is able to do so will receive 2.337 Bitcoin (to date this has not been accomplished). NOW THAT IS CONFIDENCE!
Post Purchase Support: Overall Ledger seems to be on the ball when it comes to taking care of their existing customer base. What we mean when we say post purchase support are things like:
- Hard Fork Support: To date Ledger has taken a very proactive role when it comes to popular coin hard forks; typically providing support of the newly forked asset before the actual fork takes place (i.e. The Bitcoin cash, Bitcoin Gold and Bitcoin Private forks). One of our main gripes when it comes to wallet providers is that some keep you i the dark when it comes to if the forked crypto asset will be supported by your wallet; and many times actual support comes months later. We give credit when credit is due and Ledger a good job at announcing ahead of time to their customers if support will be provided.
- Timely Firmware Updates: Ledger provides frequent firmware updates that keep your wallet current. For the most part Ledger has not had many (if any at all) security issues. However, when it comes to Segwit support, hard fork and additional crypto asset integration these dudes (and dudettes?) have been on their game.
- Additional Crypto Asset Support: Since the inception of this wallet Ledger has been raising the bar for the amount of crypto assets supported on their device (full list of supported assets below). The average crypto investor (more than likely) has a plethora of crypto currencies therefore, ongoing asset additions is a great attribute to have in a wallet.
Crypto Asset Support: The word on the street regarding this hardware wallet is the sheer amount of Crypto Currencies this thing can support. A hardware wallet typically stores around 3-8 unique crypto assets (meaning not ERC20 based); but this one takes the cake by a significantly large margin. Why should you care about this, you ask? I’ll tell you why. The more assets a wallet supports means the more options you have to securely store your digital wealth in (for no additional cost to you).
Just look at all these! And more are on the way:
1) Bitcoin (BTC) 8) Stealth (XST) 15) Bitcoin Cash (BCH) 22) Viacoin (VIA)
2) Ethereum (ETH) 9) Digibyte (DGB) 16) Ethereum Classic (ETC) 23) Hcash (HSR)
3) Dogecoin (DOGE) 10) PosW (POSW) 17) Zcash (ZEC) 24) Qtum (QTUM)
4) XRP a.k.a. Ripple 11) ZenCash (ZEN) 18) Dash (DASH) 25) PivX (PIVX)
5) Komodo (KMD) 12) Litecoin (LTC) 19) Ubiq (UBQ) 26) Bitcoin Gold (BTG)
6) Vertcoin (VTC) 13) Expanse (EXP) 20) Stratis (STRAT) 27) Ark (ARK)
7) Neo (NEO) 14) Stellar (XLM) 21) Peercoin (PPC) 28) Bitcoin Private (BTCP)
Note: You can use this wallet to log into myetherwallet.com to securely access a bunch of ERC20 tokens. In our opinion a selection such as this is nothing less than outstanding.
Secure EAL 5+ Chip: The secure chip that Ledger uses (being that it is that same tech that your credit card and passport use) adds a layer of legitimacy and trust that cannot be ignored. Sometimes it is almost surreal to think that a such a large amount of money can be stored on these small hardware wallets. Knowing that there is a tested and proven tech keeping your funds safe provides a peace of mind that is important when it comes to financial security devices.
Product Build: Okay, this wallet is very small; meaning the OLED screen you use to verify send-to addresses is even smaller. The problem is that the screen is not large enough to display the entire address all at once (so it scrolls across rather quickly instead). This makes verifying the address very frustrating at times.
The swivel joint that connects the plastic body of the wallet to the stainless steel cover also is prone to damage if fully extended. Because of the wallets small stature it would not take an extreme amount of force to break the joint completely; so please, don’t go play catch in the backyard with this thing.
Scams: There has been an ongoing scam regarding the Nano S wallet which really has nothing to do with the Ledger, their product or the security of the device; however, this would not “the ultimate review” if I did not mention it. There have been a few unscrupulous third party re-sellers who have been providing unsuspecting customers with already activated devices (meaning the seed phrases were already established). This means that if crypto is placed on that compromised device it can (and will) be stolen.
A provided seed phrase would immediately raise a read flag for any crypto veteran; however, unfortunately, less seasoned crypto new comers don’t always know this important piece of information. Any hardware wallet that you purchase should not already come with an established seed phrase; if it does, DO NOT USE IT! That is why the team here at BitBarricade strongly suggests that you buy directly from registered affiliate of the desired manufacturer that directly link you the official website. Just so you know, bitbarricade.com is a registered affiliate of all the hardware wallets we review!
Conclusion – Solid Overall Buy
All in all, the Nano S had a strong showing and proves to be a quality cold storage solution for your crypto wealth. Integrating a huge selection of assets into proven security tech and following it up with amazing post-purchase support is no small task; but that exactly what the folks at Ledger have done. While the main draw backs can be largely attributed to cosmetic issues (the small profile of the device) we understand that this can be viewed as a good or bad thing. After about a year of using this wallet we can honestly say that this is a product we can stand by in terms of both quality and reliability; you can’t really go wrong with this one.
At BitBarricade we are a registered affiliate of Ledger and all their related products. We work hard at bringing you the most in depth hardware wallets reviews online for one simple reason; we love what we do. It is our hope that you will send love back our way if you appreciate our work.