The Coinkite Coldcard is an advanced hardware wallet for Bitcoin that provides offline storage of your coins. This review will examine the pros and cons of this device to help you decide if it’s worth buying.
The Coinkite Coldcard hardware wallet is the only item that comes in the packaging. There’s no instruction manual nor any recovery sheets. The PCI board lives in a clear, transparent case with “Made in Canada” etched on a chip behind it. It requires a USB connection to turn on, but instead of depending on a computer’s USB connection, you can purchase a separate accessory to use a 9V battery instead. There’s a microSD card slot under the screen. The numbers 5, 8, 7, and 9 are navigation buttons on the keypad (they’re also labeled with arrows to make their functions obvious).
I am surprised by how much this hardware wallet costs. The Coinkite Coldcard looks like a hobbyist gadget. Its transparent case sports a crude design. Letters on the packaging bag are large with a vintage-looking electronic typeface. The product does not include a recovery sheet, a USB cable, nor an instruction manual, making me assume that the device’s target audience is people who are well-versed in Bitcoin’s sophisticated capabilities.
Activate and Setup Review
On first turning on the Coinkite Cooldcard, I’m prompted to create a PIN. Warning: there’s no way to reset the PIN once it’s entered. Whatever numbers you choose, that’s it! (Although an FAQ says that I can change it, so I’m wondering if that statement is correct) After confirming the warning and press “6” to continue, I type in my desired PIN. Two words appear on my computer’s display on the next screen, and I press the checkmark button to go ahead. Before continuing, I re-entered my pin numerous times. My USB drive activates on my PC, indicating that my gadget has connected with it and is now operational.
When I go to the device’s main menu, there are five options, one of which is for settings and two for wallet creation. I choose to create a new wallet. I’m shown a 24-word seed phrase on the screen, which I write down. To view more words, I scroll down the page. Then I’m asked about the seed phrase, and after a lengthy quiz, I’m presented with another menu screen. I can sign transactions, view the passphrase, view available public addresses, and access wallet settings.
I’m now ready to use the Coinkite Coldcard hardware wallet, but nothing in the packaging tells me what software I’ll need. According to their site, I’ll need to use it with PSBT-friendly Bitcoin wallet software. One program that Coinkite’s docs frequently refer to is Electrum. I downloaded the installer and ran it. I select standard wallet, then “use a hardware,” and after it scans my computer, it finds the Coinkite Coldcare. I choose “native segwit” on the next screen and then create my wallet in the software. Finally, it asks if I want to encrypt the file and, after I allow it, Electrum encrypts the file.
In reality, I picked all of the defaults during Coinkite’s and Electrum’s initial setup, but there are numerous options to choose from.
Setup is not complicated, but the confirmation quiz is lengthier than I like. It is easy to follow the setup steps, and on-screen instructions tell you exactly what to do. You need to be careful about pressing the right buttons: sometimes, I find it hard to know if I push a number or a button for navigation.
You can send and receive funds through the Electrum wallet software.
Clicking on the “Receive” tab and the “New Address” button allows me to receive funds. I can copy the public address or show the QR code on a right-side window panel. I don’t know if the address I generated is correct, so I need to check with my Coinkite Coldcard. When my hardware wallet and Electrum wallet show the same public addresses, I initiate the receipt of funds. Within seconds of the transaction’s start, an alert from Electrum tells me that a transaction has been initiated to the public address. After a minute, the program told me that my Bitcoin account received funds.
I select “Send” from the drop-down menu when sending transactions. I use my computer’s webcam to scan a QR code by clicking on the camera symbol. After the address is detected and input into the text field, I click on the “Pay” button and choose the cheapest mining fee option. After the “Send” button is clicked, a pop-up appears, indicating that the transaction is being signed. The screen on the Coinkite Coldcard hardware wallet shows information about it. I scroll down a bit to read everything and then click the checkmark button. The program notifies me that payment is sending. Minutes later, a pop-up on the screen then states that the amount is sent.
Transactions are easy. You can send and receive money. The Coinkite Coldcard has a QR code that is not scannable by a phone, so you need the software to generate a decent QR code.
There are several security features included in this gadget. If you’re a seasoned Bitcoin user, you have a lot of choices. You can choose between segwit vs. non-segwit, multi-signature wallets, scrambling the keypad, and other options. It’s also worth noting the Coldcard hardware wallet’s approach to wrong login attempts. After thirteen unsuccessful logins, Coinkite’s operating system will lock the hardware, and you won’t be able to recover or reset it.
The microSD card has two purposes. You can encrypt the seed phrase and save it to a microSD card. Also, you can download updates to the card, then insert it into the hardware wallet’s port to update the device (this adds another layer of security against intrusion and spoofing).
Coinkite has developed extensive documentation for the Coldcard hardware wallet. Their FAQ answers basic questions for beginners and advanced users, and other documentation explains all the features available to wallet owners.
I can’t list all the security options for Coldcard owners. I don’t understand them all! But it is safe to say that this device will provide high protection for your Bitcoin funds.
The Coinkite Coldcard hardware wallet allows you to connect with other PSBT-compatible software. Supported applications include:
- Wasabi Wallet
- Fully Noded
- Unchained Capital
This device isn’t a wallet for beginners! The Coinkite Coldcard appeals to Bitcoin holders who want a basic, no-frills interface. You’re searching for the wrong wallet and cryptocurrency if you need token support and dapp connectivity. This hardware wallet can help you keep your funds safe. If you don’t want to research the full features of this device and Bitcoin’s capabilities, then it is best to go with an easier-to-handle hardware wallet.