What is a Digital Bitbox?

– Let’s talk about the Digital Bitbox.   In my last video, I reviewed the Trezor,  a hardware wallet from Satoshi Labs.  And my chief complaint was that the form factor  was just a little bit too large  to carry around on my keychain  and take it everywhere I went.

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Today, I’m taking a look at the Digital Bitbox,  another hardware wallet that comes in  a much smaller, compact form factor.  For the purposes of this video,  I’m just gonna refer to it as the Bitbox from now on.  Free branding advice, guys.  We know it’s digital,  so maybe drop the digital and just call it the Bitbox.  The Bitbox is made by Shift Devices out of Switzerland,  and it’s been around for about a year now.  Right off the bat, this device impressed me  with it’s simple yet elegant packaging  and it’s tiny form factor.

It’s the same size as a regular USB drive,  and so it’s simple to just carry around on your keychain.  Setup is relatively easy,  and consists of downloading and installing  the Bitbox desktop application.  During setup, you’ll be asked to enter a password,  and this password is what you’ll use to unlock the wallet  every time you wanna use it in the future.  A cool thing about the desktop app  is that it’s fully open source  and available across Windows, Mac, and Linux.  Unlike other hardware wallets which require you  to manually write down a long seed phrase  in case you ever need to recover the wallet,  the Bitbox takes a different approach  and comes with a four gigabyte micro SD card.

When you first set up your wallet,  you simply insert the micro SD card  and all the recovery details are backed up to that micro SD.  You then take this micro SD  and you keep it in a really safe place, obviously.  I really like this feature,  ’cause it’s a lot less manual  than writing down 24 words  and it also removes the potential for human error  when writing down a word incorrectly.  If you ever lose your Bitbox or need to reset the device,  you can simply back up your existing wallet  by plugging the micro SD card back in,  opening it up, and hitting Recover.

Once set up, the desktop app  is a relatively standard bitcoin wallet  where you can send, receive, and monitor your accounts.  It’s important to note  that the current desktop application for the Bitbox  only supports bitcoin.  It does not support other alt coins  or other alternative currencies at this point in time.  That being said, when you do set up the hardware wallet,  it does generate Ethereum keys on the device  which you can then later use with MyEtherWallet.  So just like with the Trezor which I reviewed previously,  once you’re all set up, you can go over to MyEtherWallet.com  and there’s an option there for the Digital Bitbox.

You just click that,  and from there, you can use the device  to manage Ethereum but also ERC20 tokens, as well.  Just one note there  that it’ll only currently work with certain browsers,  the Chrome and Opera browser, I believe.  One extra thing that I really like about the Bitbox  is that it actually uses a separate chip on the device  to store your private keys.  So when any cryptographic operations  are taking place on the device,  the device grabs the keys from their secure element,  but then once it’s done, it wipes those keys from memory.

This is an extra layer in securing your private keys  that a lot of other hardware wallets don’t currently offer.  And it may actually protect against future attack vectors  where an attacker might be able to read the private keys  essentially off the RAM of the device.  In this case, you can rest assured  because the private keys are all stored  in that secure element  and not accessible outside of that.  Bitbox really went the extra mile with this feature,  and I appreciate that.  Speaking of security,  there’s also an option to have a secondary password  which protects a hidden wallet on the device.  So if you really wanna double down  on hiding your private keys and the security of your wallet,  Bitbox affords that, as well.

When it comes to sending transactions on the device,  you’ll need to approve these by pressing a touch button.  I didn’t actually notice that the touch button was there  ’cause it’s built into the device, but it works pretty well.  And there’s an LED behind it to prompt you to press it.  As with many other hardware wallets out there today,  the Bitbox also functions  as a universal second factor device  for two factor authentication.  This means you can use your Bitbox  to secure websites like Facebook, Gmail, Dropbox, et cetera  with your Bitbox as your second factor.  I have multiple other videos on this,  which I recommend you go back and view,  but this is a really cool feature,  and it’s kind of becoming standard  and all the bitcoin hardware wallets these days  as a feature that’s kind of expected.  On the mobile front, support is limited.

Bitbox have apps for Android and iOS,  but the catch is that they’re both only for two FA  to protect your wallet on the desktop further.  They’re not mobile wallets,  so don’t expect to be going fully mobile with your Bitbox  and sending bitcoin from a mobile device.  And that really segways well into the one area  that I’ll say the Bitbox could improve, the software.  I think the Bitbox team and their Swiss engineering  have really nailed the hardware of this device.  But once you plug a hardware wallet into a computer,  the expectation is that the software  on the other end of the equation is up to par.

There needs to be  great looking, easy to use software wallets  on the other end.  Furthermore, that software  needs to do more than just bitcoin  and kind of third party Ethereum support.  You need to be able to support the bevy  of alt coins and alt currencies and tokens out there today,  because really, people who are serious enough  to go and spend money on a hardware wallet  are probably dabbling in more than just bitcoin.  I believe there is support for third party clients,  such as Electrum, on the Bitbox,  but the kind of expectation these days with hardware wallets  is that there’s a decent software experience  when you plug the thing and start using it.

If you compare it with something  like the Trezor or the Ledger,  which I’m yet to review but I hear has great software,  Bitbox’s competitors have really upped the game  in terms of polish and functionality of the software  on the other end of the hardware equation.  The good news is that  now that Bitbox have the hardware nailed,  I’m sure they’re furiously working on improving the software  and bringing it up to par.  I really expect this to improve into the future.  The good news with this software gripe that I have  is that it’s just software and it’s pretty easy to upgrade.

It’s a lot harder to retroactively upgrade hardware  which is already out there in people’s hands physically.  And if they’re able to bring the software up to par  with something like the Trezor or the Ledger,  then I really think we’re looking at a contender  for one of the best hardware wallets out there.  As I’ve already mentioned multiple times,  the hardware is on point,  and Shift Devices have really gone the extra mile  in making sure that the hardware is secure  and in a really easy to carry around form factor.  The Bitbox currently sells for 54 euros  on the Shift Devices website, which comes to around $64 USD.  That’s a great price  for the quality of hardware you’re getting.  I’ve been using the device for a couple of weeks now  for my bitcoin and ERC20 tokens.

It’s super simple to use,  and I love that I can’t feel it in my pocket  when it’s on my keychain.  Well, that’s it for this video.  I hope you found the review helpful.  I’ll put some links in the description  where you can go to learn more about the Digital Bitbox  and also buy it.  I’m hoping to review more hardware wallets in the future  but I also wanna do videos on other crypto topics,  so if you have any suggestions,  put them in the comments below.  I’d love to hear them.  As always, if you found this video helpful,  please like and subscribe if you wanna get weekly updates.  Thanks for watching.  Until next time, see you later.  (outro music)

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What is a Digital Bitbox?