One of the creepiest secrets of cryptocurrency world, especially Bitcoin, is a fact that this ecosystem is like Wild West: when you get unlucky, within one second you can lose everything you have collected through years. Whether it will be bankruptcy of the cryptocurrency exchange, wallet stealing or technical error of the device or software. This is only beginning, though. Biggest threat lies within cryptocurrency owner and his/her capability of remembering passwords, pin number or even places of storage. Many things have changed, but most of technical aspects remain the same, information campaign increases, spreading word around (proving, that this is very promising industry), attracting more and more people to join cryptocurrency train. Wild West analogy is even more reasonable when we notice attitude of early gold rush adventurers, who said themselves, that “it will all be good“. Modern conquerors of digital gold claim there is no need to know how to script or code (necessary to setup mining gears or generic wallets), they neglect real luck factor – I surely won’t keep any capital in failing exchange or in scam coin…. Investors blindly disregard necessity of selecting and keeping good team of developers, honest coworkers, patience and endurance against market changes. Those general remarks need to be mentioned as my motivation to publish test the following, nice looking stick – device I have been waiting to get and use for quite some time: Ledger Nano S.

Cryptocurrency wallet Ledger Nano S in the box, tightly secured.

This introduction is a statement of awareness of security, or at least constant focus on reducing risk of falling into self confidence bias. In security sense people tend to underestimate consequences of unexpected occurrences, which have big general impact while low probability. Examples? Bankruptcy of very popular cryptocurrency exchange discovers overall illusion of control bias; new regulation in technology law strikes freedom of circulation with blockade or tax… and it is met with wishful thinking of the things are going to stay the same. Pointed out by common knowledge as “lack of imagination”, as brilliantly described by Nassim Taleb in his Black Swan series, could throw reckless market participant out of the game for long months. What makes things worse, when one is ready to step back up, market is much, much higher. What could be more frustrating? Why not reduce most of the risk by keeping stash in safety…

Unboxing is pure pleasure with such nice design. But before it, one more thing about security.

Crypto wallet Ledger Nano S security notice says there is no need to worry about breach.

Cold storage wallets, places of cryptocurrency storage with no constant connection to the network are one of the most reliable and recommended ways of protection. Examples of physical storages are wallet copy on pendrive or memory and kept in safe place, such as safety deposit box, laminated paper wallet with printed keys or offline wallet. List of physical and technical dangers that could affect weak wallets are long while new ways of stealing value are constantly developed, tested and implemented. From owner point of view, there is a vital need of finding balance between securing cryptocoins and still being able to make transactions using protected keys.

Ledger Nano S design is inspired by Apple. It also hold a lot of altcoins securely.

Ledger Nano S is well designed cryptocurrency wallet from France, which costs at the moment of writing about 79 euro + vat (check current price on producer’s page). It is basically a stick with screen, it connects to the computer with usb cable and it’s main function is secure storage of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. USB cable (included) is needed to power the wallet. Device is controlled by two buttons: navigating through option by pressing one button, confirming with pressing both buttons at once. I have a feeling that designer of Ledger Nano S is inspired by Apple products, especially when in comes to communication with user – dialogue is the better word I think – aesthetic of the box, instruction and accessories.

Ledger Nano S instructions are clear and guide user through first usage challenges.

Using wallet is quite simple and beginner friendly, simple steps guide through most important functions:

  • installation of the app on the computer,
  • backup of the seed (list of words are our backup),
  • establishing PIN number.

When Ledger Nano S is connected to the computer, wallet activates and we can choose cryptocurrency application, which gets unlocked – now we have access to send money, check balance, control application (for example updates or version control), transactions. Of course transactions need to be confirmed on wallet’s screen.

Ledger Nano S Bitcoin menu let user access

After setup, using wallet is really simple: just connect wallet to the computer and unlock using PIN number. Now you have access to applications, transactions, history, balance and more.

Ledger Nano S list of supported altcoins

Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Zcash, Ripple, Dash, Stratis, Komodo, Ark, Expanse, Ubiq, Vertcoin, Viacoin, NEO, Stealth, Stellar, Hcash, Digibyte, Qtum, Peercoin, PivX, PosW, Bitcoin Private, ZenCash, Woleet, NanoVault, Nimiq, Zcoin, Tron.

Ledger Nano S application screen shows clearly balances and let user send cryptocurrencies and receive bitcoin, ethereum

Useful trick – save public, receiving address to the wallet. Your usb wallet is secure and you want our cryptocurrency to be there as soon as possible. You don’t need to connect wallet to computer to send money to your Ledger Nano S. It is good to keep physical wallet as offline as possible.

What I haven’t found at the beginning? Information why I can’t check amount of coins stored in the wallet on wallet’s screen. I can check it in application in the computer. What I can see on the wallet’s screen, however, is confirmation of the amount during transaction. I was also wondering about addresses to sent coins to the wallet – is there only one address or I could generate more – apparently there is only one, hardcoded into the device – which is good.

What do you find in Ledger Nano S box? Wallet, usb cable, instructions, accessories

Wallet can be ordered directly on Ledger Wallet website. Moreover, you could likely get special offer, for example during holidays or events in crypto world. I bought my Ledger Nano S via producers page – I was pleasantly surprised by their great customer service. Due to some problems with availability I got an email from customer service stating, that my order is going to be delayed. As a courtesy, my order was going to get upgraded shipping. This is very good communication practice to inform customer about potential problem and proactive reaction. To my surprise, my order has been delivered next day, thanks to this shipping upgrade. Good for you, Ledger.

Pros:

  • does what’s promised – secure storage of Bitcoin, Ethereum and the most popular cryptocoins
  • intuitive operation with two buttons, usb cable and well designed applications
  • creative design of the box and accessories, visible Apple inspiration
  • protected against reset or forgetting password
  • great customer service (when shopped via producer’s website)

Cons:

  • can’t see account balance on wallet’s screen, somehow I expected this
  • not really comfortable plastic buttons are made of (on in first generation of devices, as producer states)
  • for those, who can pay around 100 euro (wallet + tax + shipping) for secure method of storage

I recommend checking out other wallets and solutions on Ledger Wallet website. Maybe more detailed, technical descriptions will convince you or you will find special offer which wasn’t available when I purchased my device? This wallet is costly only in fiat money terms, when compared to 1 BTC value it is well worth the security it provides. At the moment of writing 1 BTC costs well, well above the price of one ounce of gold.

Cryptocurrency wallet Ledger Nano S waiting to be opened.