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Snowed in with my Ellipal: A Review by DGBAT writer Lisa M.

Ellipal

 

We have had some harsh weather in my neck of the woods! Luckily for me, I was snowed in with a new favorite gadget; the Ellipal Cold Wallet. I was able to get nice and cozy with this wallet and found some great tweaks, future requests, and issues to resolve.

The Ellipal project started in October, 2017 and launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in September 2018. The campaign was wildly successful; raising 551% percent over the original goal. Ellipal’s mission is to be the “ultimate fusion of user convenience and secure cryptocurrency storage.”

This review is meant to work in tandem with Matt of CrypoCurrently’s unboxing and video review. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s best to start there; https://youtu.be/CfEuvbbOkjg. He did a great job of the basic set-up and functionality of the wallet.

The wallet itself looks and feels great. I know some have said it looks like a cellphone but at the risk of dating myself, I really thought the screen and size felt much more like the original palm pilot. But, having used a Ledger Nano S and Keepkey, it was great to have a large, readable screen.

Getting Started: Check The Seal.

When you get your device; it should be sealed to ensure no tampering. Matt and I both had seals cut. His was likely due to customs and mine was shared to me from another team member. We were able to double check that our devices had not been tampered with by lifting the back cover. The easiest way was to gently nudge it from the side of the charging port and slowly pull the rest of it back. This will reveal the battery as well as the micro usb slot. You should also see two small stickers to ensure the device has not been opened; one that says seal and another small round sticker at the top.

Begin set up on the Ellipal Device. Listen to Matt and create your account on your Ellipal hardware wallet first, not on the App. That is the most secure way to keep your private key offline. There is an option to create an account from the App, so that could be confusing. You will be given a 12 word seed phrase which serves as your recovery key to the wallets created on the Ellipal device. The wallet itself is fairly self-explanatory. I fumbled around a couple times to get to the correct screens, but it was generally intuitive.

Tip: When setting up your wallet, and all wallets for that matter, I recommend employing some form of Shamir’s Secret and split your seed phrase and store in different locations.

Download the Ellipal App. The wallet will provide a QR code, but you can get the link from the Ellipal site as well. Then, as Matt shows on his video, connect your the cold wallet addresses to the App. From there you can set up transactions to be signed by your Ellipal device. I had a small issue with my first transaction; the eth I sent did not register on my App. I contacted support, and they let me know their api was down for a bit and would push the information manually. That was odd, but not a cause for any concern as I was able to see the etherscan transaction from within the App by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and clicking ‘more information.’ Hopefully, there will be automated fetching in the future. The other issue I saw was that VEN was listed as an erc20 token for VeChain. That token is now VET, on its own chain and I would not want people to send VET to the erc20 address by mistake. Also, when sending units less than one, remember to put 0.xxx or the “.” will not register.

Other than that, the App far exceeded my expectations. Beyond managing your own accounts, you are able to browse news feeds, check out the markets, create contacts, and get support from the Ellipal team.

Which currencies are supported and what about Paper Wallets?

Ellipal plans to support all popular currencies. You can can even ask them to integrate your favorite currency if it is not already on the list.

Can you use Ellipal to scan your paper wallets? The answer appears to be yes. I tested this with an Ethereum wallet I created on MyEtherWallet. I had actually created the wallet offline; scanned the private key into the Ellipal Cold Wallet and then added this as a wallet in the Ellipal App.

I was able to link several paper wallets, BTC, LTC, BCH, ETH. The only wallet I was not able to link was DGB. I kept getting an error that the private key was not recognized. I contacted support and was told that my DGB key was non-compressed and most keys were compressed, but they would support non-compressed keys in future updates. (I just created the wallet with the DGB wallet generator). DGB is supported in the wallet App, just not as a scannable paper wallet.

This is a great feature for those of you with paper wallets! Remember, these wallets will not be linked with your ellipal seed phrase. You are actually creating another account in your hardware wallet.

Yay! A truly air-gapped wallet! What is so great about that? The safest way to transact with crypto currencies would be to sign the transactions offline, because your private key would never be exposed to the internet. This has been possible in the past, but not practical. Historically, you need two computers. One computer would have to remain offline and the other one connects to the blockchain. You initiate the transaction online and then you have to download the transaction to a usb drive and download it to your offline computer. The offline computer has an offline version of the wallet to sign and approve the transaction (and fill in some other info). Then you have to take the file to the online computer and show the signed transaction and broadcast it to the network. This is basically what the Ellipal is doing in one sleek step. The App initiates a transaction and all the info is in the QR code that is scanned by the Ellipal device. The Ellipal then allows you to sign the transaction with your password and creates a QR code that shows the transaction has been signed. The App scans the signed transaction and it gets broadcast to the network. Using the built in cellphone camera and Ellipal device camera is just a brilliant concept.

*Please note; wallets with a bluetooth or wifi connection are not an air-gapped connections. They are still connected to your computer or phone.

What if I lose or break the device?

The wallet is backed up with a 12 word recovery phrase. The directions state if you lose the wallet, you can use the recover phrase to set up a new Ellipal wallet. What would happen if you didn’t have access to another Ellipal or the company went out of business? Luckily, the wallet is compliant with Bip32/39/44 protocols. I tested this by putting my Ellipal seed phrase in an Exodus wallet. I was able to get access to my funds and all addresses were the same. Obviously I would not recommend people doing this because it defeats the purpose of having a cold wallet, but it was a great test.

Features I Would Like To See

When setting up the password, I kept having a mismatch because the buttons were so small to type with my big fat thumb. I was already away from any cameras as suggested, so concealing the password with the little ***** seemed to be overkill. I would love a toggle to show the password for the fat fingered folks.

Optional Cases: Matt requested this as well. This is such an important device, I would love to see a waterproof, dustproof case available.

MicroSD included: The hardware device will need firmware upgrades as new coins, tokens, and features are added. This requires a MicroSD card (needs to be 32G or smaller). It would be nice if the card was included as it will be required at some point.

Other Wallet Integrations: As much as I like the Ellipal App, I love the flexibility of using various interfaces. Ellipal is on top of the game on this one and building a library to be 3rd party friendly (check out Future Integrations below).

Exchange Addresses: The great news is there is a built in exchange so you can exchange from inside the Ellipal App. You must exchange between addresses in the App. This may be a security issue, but it would be nice to be able to input an address.

Future Integrations

Ellipal is consistently adding assets available to the wallet. I was pleased to see that the platform is being built to enable 3rd parties to integrate Ellipal’s hardware solution. They have developed and open source JavaScript lib with full functions of account management, balance checking and sending coins or tokens. Check out their Github.

Final Thoughts

My overall impression of the Ellipal was great. It is always tough to be a new company in this space. I wish they would have put more about where the company is located and the top officials. I notice on Ledger’s site there are links for the company and the people; hopefully, Ellipal will do the same. When you are dealing with something as sensitive as crypto currency, you want to have an accountable face behind the product.

That being said, they are working with universal protocols, so the product is not a walled garden. I really loved the concept of air-gapped keys. If Ledger and Trezor are cold storage, Ellipal is frozen storage. I am completely sold on that concept. You will still need to double check addresses on any software side, but your keys are safely offline. The Ellipal Mobile App was much more robust than I expected, and I am excited to see how the project develops.

If you buy an Ellipal today, you will be part of a quickly improving product. That may take a little patience on your part, but the team on telegram has been extremely helpful, patient, and supportive. The marketing appears to be a top-notch organized grassroots campaign that is responsive to the crypto community. There is also an affiliate program.

The Ellipal retails for $149 or two for $248. Shipping has been paused until February 11th, but there is a 15% discount for your wait. You can also order from their Amazon Shop, which has not paused shipping. Visit Ellipal.com for more information.

 

Written By: Lisa M | DGBAT Writer

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