There’s a lot to love about Ledger’s hardware wallets. There’s also a lot to loathe. From a design, manufacture, and presentation perspective, they’re a dream. From a software perspective, they’re occasionally capricious, in this reviewer’s experience, and prone to connecting and disconnecting on a whim. With the new Nano X, Ledger aims to put those issues behind it.
The New Nano X Has Potential
I’ve got something of a love-hate relationship with Ledger hardware wallets (HWs). I love their aesthetics and theoretical functionality. I hate their practical functionality, because in practice, Ledgers don’t always work for me. I’ve got four of ‘em sitting in a drawer somewhere, one of which I purchased myself and the others sent by Ledger for reviewing purposes. I managed to get all of them to work, eventually, after much cursing and teeth-gritting, but predicted that I would be unlikely to use those particular devices again. I’ve kept my word.
The new Ledger Nano X, unveiled at the start of this month, is a device I want to crush on, or at least develop as much of an affinity for a HW as it’s natural for a man to have. And, straight out the box, I feel all those feels. No other HW manufacturer makes devices that look as good as Ledger. You name them – Cold Card, Ellipal, Cobo Vault – I’ve reviewed them and found them functional, but none looked as slick as Ledger’s wallets when the cellophane was peeled off.
There’s a much more desirable attribute of hardware wallets, however, than looking good in the palm of the hand, and that’s where Ledger and I don’t see eye to eye. I don’t know if it’s my laptops or my attitude, but Ledgers hate me. I had been hoping their new Nano X, scheduled to ship in March, would end my lousy run of luck with Ledgers.
‘Our Most Advanced Hardware Wallet Yet’
Ledger’s “most advanced hardware wallet yet” is basically the best-selling Nano with Bluetooth bolted on, an extra button, and the new Ledger Live mobile app as a companion. The X is the future of Ledger’s production line, with the original Nano now reduced to 70 bucks, as the French firm looks to get shot of stock and make way for the sleeker Nano X, which will retail for around $140.
The Nano doesn’t feel dated until you look at the Nano X, whereupon it feels as obsolete as a first edition iPhone. That’s not to slate the trusty Nano however – it remains a highly regarded hardware wallet, and there is no need to upgrade to the X. If you’re shopping for a new Ledger, however, it’s all about the X. It’s hard to overstate how much utility is added by simply upgrading from one push button to two. Entering your PIN into the device is much easier now, with the buttons serving as left and right respectively, while pushing them in unison acts as ‘enter’.
The Nano X comes with 5x the storage capacity for applications as its predecessor, allowing it to store more cryptocurrencies than any other major HW on the market. The test version of the device I received came with instructions noting that “Many things will be improved [in final production] including firmware, battery life, laser engraving quality, screen luminosity, general quality.” So pretty much everything then. The build and finish quality of the X look perfectly good to me. The only issue was with the software. (UPDATE: Since this review was performed, Ledger has resolved the server issues it was experiencing, which has fixed the connectivity issues with Ledger Live.)
In theory, software is a lot easier to fix than hardware, not least because it doesn’t require recalling 100,000 devices. That said, Ledger have been working on their Ledger Live wallet management software for over six months now, and it’s yet to work for longer than a few minutes at a time for this reviewer.
A Breakthrough at Last
Pretty soon, I’m installing the BTC app, though I can’t tell from the onscreen prompt whether it’s being downloaded onto the Ledger Live mobile app or onto the Nano X itself. Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter, as I’m soon greeted by a message that reads “Operation was cancelled. Something went wrong. Please retry or contact us.” I try a different app, ETH this time. “Installing Ethereum. The installation of Ethereum app may take a while, please keep the app open,” I’m informed. Again, I’ve no idea whether this means the app on my phone or that I should keep the Nano X open and powered on. A moment later, I’m greeted by an entirely new error message:
And that’s about the point where I gave up and filed this review. In the week since it was first published, however, and with the aid of the Ledger support team, I managed to get the Nano X to work fully. Assuming the server issues that affected the Ledger Live app at the time of this review don’t recur when the units ship in March, there’s grounds for optimism that the X will prove to be just as popular as its predecessor.
The Ledger Live mobile app is particularly nice to use, from both a UX and a privacy perspective, as it automatically generates a new receiving address each time. Nano fans might even find that Ledger Live makes a more than capable replacement for their Blockfolio app, forming an all-in-one application for sending and receiving crypto as well as for portfolio monitoring.
What are your thoughts on Ledger’s hardware wallets? Let us know in the comments section below.
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