CryptoSteel review

by Colin Aulds
Updated 12/09/2019


Pros


  • Open source design
  • Lifetime satisfaction guarantee w/ refund (though Cryptosteel is notorious for poor customer service)

Cons


  • Tiles get mixed up during shipping
  • Stamping makes tiles warped (difficult or impossible to load)
  • Some tiles are illegible
  • Tray could be easily spilled

Who Should Buy a Seed Backup Device

Crypto investors with any significant sum of bitcoin

Crypto investors who need cold storage or wallet restoration

Crypto investors who want financial sovereignty

Why Buy a Seed Backup?

While HODLers wait for the world to catch on to the significance of the idea of digital scarcity, small businesses around the globe have been introducing products to ensure that bitcoins remain safe and offline. 


With cold storage of coins being an important and basic first line of defense, private keys, BIP39 mnemonic wallet backups and passphrases also needed an offline storage method.


How to store these types of information securely and without a third party involved was the next development needed.

Preventing the catastrophic data loss posed by fire, flooding or other natural disasters was key.

As a result, the open-source cassette model for storing backup seed phrases began to be introduced to the market. Among those to add to the offering was Cryptosteel.

Cryptosteel Basics

Cryptosteel is a UK-based enterprise who first began selling their cassette-based model in 2015. 

Since that time they have reconfigured the device in a new format, namely the patent pending Cryptosteel Capsule.

Little was gained from this iteration as you can easily see, and the connection to open source design has been lost.

One Hierarchical Deterministic 24-word seed phrase will fit within the capsule as well as other data such as a private key depending on which tile set you choose.

Price

The original Cryptosteel backup device retails from $92-185 due to the range of different tile selections which must be chosen from. 

There are four options: the 24-word mnemonic seed set, the “anykey” option with special characters and the “mix” option which has more tiles in a mixture of the previous two sets and finally the hexadecimal set.

Unboxing & Impressions

The Cryptosteel cassette arrives in a slim package which contains a form-fitting, rectangular insert so the weighty cassette is not damaged during shipping. 

Unfortunately, only a slim piece of paper is placed between this and the storage area for the tiles which easily slip and fall into the wrong places.

Worse yet, anecdotal experiences report that due to flexing in transit allows all of these to become mixed resulting in a large container of tiles to be sorted through.

The packaging even warns you in a non-specific way that this danger is there, which indicates their knowledge of the problem.

Cassette Description

At roughly 2.25 x 4 inches and only ¼” thick, the Cryptosteel’s version of the stainless steel cassette is indistinguishable from other products which use the open source design.

Once the details are scrutinized, however, the disappointments begin piling up.

Tiles

Many options for permanently marking the tiles with characters exist, however Cryptosteel has opted for perhaps the most problematic: physically stamping the characters.

This creates two issues, the first of which is the warping to the tile itself after the stamping process has occurred. 

Even when completed on the same material and production machinery, no two stamping operations are exactly alike.

The tiles are therefore not uniform and some are more difficult (or even impossible) to load into the slot than others, making the setup procedure more frustrating and time consuming.

Secondly, the irregularity results in flaws being introduced during stamping, which causes some of the tiles to be illegible.

Features

The Cryptosteel cassette allows for storage away from online threats as well as real-world damage from fire or water. 

While the intent is good here, the lack of quality and foresight is a bit insulting to bitcoiners who take their security and sovereignty quite seriously.

Storable Information Formats

Due to the need to select the appropriate tile set, the cassette provided is at risk of being useless if an insufficient number of tiles or types of characters arrive at your door. 

Shifting the burden of needed information onto the user is a confusing choice, and demonstrates the inflexible nature of choosing to get your device from Cryptosteel. 

It would be far more straightforward to include the minimum tile set which can store every possible data format.

Of course Cryptosteel are willing to sell you additional sets after the fact if you should choose to change your mind.

Device Setup

Albeit with the above caveats, setup is relatively straightforward and easy to understand.

Open the locking mechanism in two simple steps with a screwdriver, insert the tiles, close and re-lock the device which you can then store just about any place it won’t be forgotten.

Summary

The Cryptosteel cassette is a fair effort but not the best offline seed word storage device. It's incredibly over-priced for what you get with other options out there offering better protection for a far more fair price. From ordering to device setup (and every step in between), the experience was flawed.

Rating:

1.5 / 5



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