BitLox Bitcoin Hardware Wallet First Review

BitLox is now shipping the BitLox bitcoin hardware wallet. The hardware wallet is available cased in aluminum for $199 or titanium for $299. Our review sample came packaged very professionally. Here is what we received:

BitLox Bitcoin Hardware Wallet

Besides the Bitlox itself you receive two USB cords (short and long), a leather sheath, several cards on which to write down your seed and a printed copy of the user manual. BitLox is fully BIP32 & BIP39 compliant and the only other hardware wallet than Trezor which supports hidden wallets.

The BitLox we received was aluminum cased and weighed 37.7 grams. It was the same credit card size as the Case hardware wallet but was 2/3 the thickness of the Case wallet and 5 grams heavier than the plastic Case shown below.

BitLox or Case

Our review unit was very well finished and impressed us as a luxury product.

Quick Start Guide

Bitlox conveniently provided an extra printed quick start guide which we have reprinted here:

  1. Connect to USB power &move the switch to “1”
  2. Setup a DEVICE PIN (standard/advanced/expert)
  3. Automatically format device
  4. Setup a WALLET PIN for your first wallet
  5. Write down the mnemonic list on the card provided
  6. Choose USB (press 1, 2 or 3) for connecting to a computer OR Bluetooth (press 4, 5 or 6) for connecting to your Mobile
  7. QR code shown on the BitLox screen is your first address

READY!

Download the BitLox app from Google Play or the iOS app store for your mobile

OR

Go to bitlox.io/system for links to the Chrome app and the web app.

I also received a tip from the developer:

A short note, for the Chrome app, you should power on the device, enter the device PIN, choose USB, connect to the computer THEN (after windows hmmm and haws about installing the drivers – though being HID it should go quickly) fire up the app.

Be aware that you must use Google Chrome. We confirmed that BitLox will not work with SRWare Iron.

Getting Started With Our BitLox

After letting the BitLox charge for an hour I followed the quick start instructions. If you are used to using a Trezor realize that even in standard configuration the BitLox bitcoin hardware wallet requires two PINS. The first PIN unlocks the BitLox while the second unlocks your wallet.

One thing I noticed was that the keys at the left and right edge of the keyboard had very little action and were hard to push.

The instructions are quite complete and I was able to get the Bitlox working with both the Chrome extension and the Android app on my Nexus 6P in short order. Here is a screen shot of the wallet Chrome extension:

Bitlox on Chrome

Using BitLox With TAILS On Tor

Currently BitLox is the only bitcoin hardware wallet that can be used with TAILS while connected on Tor. Simply choose USB connection on your BitLox while connected to http://bitlox2twvzwbzpk.onion/bitlox_hardware_wallet/ using the Tor browser in TAILS.

TAILS does include the Electrum bitcoin wallet built in but the ability to use a hardware wallet is absent. This functionality may be added to the next 3.0 version of TAILS allowing Trezor to work with Electrum in TAILS. If you need a hardware wallet that works with the current 2.2.1 version of Tails you need to use BitLox.

If you do not want to create your own TAILS installation on a USB drive BitLox sells an Extreme Privacy Set that includes a BitLox Ultimate (titanium case) and BitLox Military Grade USB Vault with TAILS preinstalled.

Conclusions

The BitLox bitcoin hardware wallet can be complex to use depending on set up. I recommend new users set up their new BitLox using the simpler standard mode until they are familiar with all the features offered in Advanced and Expert mode.

Overall I was pleased with the construction and operation of the BitLox and appreciated the wireless Bluetooth connection to my smartphone.

The only criticisms I have concern the keyboard, which I am told is being fixed. Users should be aware that the excellent E-Ink screen can run the battery down if left on, so turn the unit off when not in use. BitLox is not yet open source which may turn away some prospective buyers but we do not consider it a deal breaker. Ledger is not completely open source, for example due to NDA agreements with their secure element suppliers.

Veteran users of hardware wallets will appreciate the advanced features available when using Expert mode and the ability to use Tor, i2p and TAILS. BitLox will also appeal to iPhone users as it is the only bitcoin hardware wallet now shipping that works with iPhone. As a plus every BitLox ships with a five year guarantee.