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Trezor MOdel T review

Updated 10/03/2019


Pros


  • Passphrase Support
  • Affordable
  • Open-Source
  • Color Touchscreen
  • User-Friendly
  • Feature-rich Interface
  • Quick & Easy Setup
  • Multisig Support
  • Device Time-Out

Cons


  • Multi-Sig Only Supported Via Electrum
  • No Validation of Change Address on the Device

Who Should Buy a Trezor Model T?

Crypto investors who value a good reputation & security

Crypto investors who want multi-currency support

Crypto investors who want a wallet that supports multiple coins

Why Buy a Hardware Wallet?

To keep your private keys secure, they need to be kept in cold storage. What is cold storage? It’s a method to keep your keys from ever coming into contact with the internet where they can be easily (and remotely) compromised. 


Hardware wallets are for everyone from the absolute beginner all the way up to the most advanced users, they are essential for everyone who wants to self-custody their own coins. In the past many had used paper wallets to cold store their funds, or worse: with hot wallets which are continually at risk. 


With the introduction of hardware wallets, cold storage became a simple and straightforward way to use this best practice.


Background

The name Trezor comes from the Czeck language and means “safe” or “strongbox”.

Trezor is the product enterprise built on the work of SatoshiLabs, the inventors of pooled Bitcoin mining and the deterministic wallet generation method (BIP39). 

Trezor’s first hardware wallet was prototyped in 2012 and their first product (the Trezor One) saw the light of day in 2014. The Model T, a higher-end device was released in 2019.

Model T Basics

Using the Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) key creation and transfer protocol (BIP32), the Model T supports storage of over 1000 cryptocurrencies. It is the successor to the Trezor One and expands the feature set and interface of that device for a more luxurious experience. 

The differences in price and functionality between the Trezor One and Model T are fairly on par with those between the Ledger Nano S and Nano X.

Price

The Model T is currently $159 USD and includes free shipping inside the United States. It is priced to compete with the Nano X in addition to its feature set.

Take a look at how the Model T stacks up against other hardware wallets:

Comparison with Competitors

While similar to many hardware wallet devices’ functionality the Model T differentiates itself in three specific ways. 


Firstly, there is a slot for an SD card which makes it the only competitor to the ColdCard for this feature. This is included to support upcoming data and file encryption, an interesting angle to be sure. 


Secondly, there is its ability to use the Shamir’s Secret Sharing method of splitting keys to keep them secure. 


Lastly is the full-color touchscreen.


The Model T is quite similar to the Ledger Nano X in that it is both a good introductory device for newcomers as well as advanced users. However, it seems Trezor avoided incorporating bluetooth connectivity to limit the attack surface. 


Bluetooth has said by some to be a security issue. Despite Ledger's response to those comments, it is up to you to determine if convenience is worth the extra risk.

Opening the Box

Prior to setting up and using a hardware wallet, it’s important to note the possible risks that someone could take to create a backdoor prior to it reaching you.


The Model T packaging consists of a black cardboard box that is magnetically held closed. 

This main box is covered by a white, partial outer sleeve and has a serial number and other information.
Also inside the box is a handy magnetic device holder which has sticker backing so you can choose to mount the device somewhere near your computer or out of the way to avoid misplacing it. It also keeps the Model T nicely secured within the packaging if you choose to keep that to store it in.

A lot of time and care has been put into the package design and Trezor even invites you to review its history.
In contrast to the Trezor One, there is no security sticker on the outer packaging. 

Instead, the Model T has a security hologram sticker covering the USB-C input on the device itself.  
Options like this show the enormous thought that has gone into the overall presentation and speak to a level of quality and desire to serve the consumer. 
This ensures the device has arrived safely and is the first thing you encounter on the setup webpage: https://trezor.io/start/

The box contains:

Trezor Model T Device

USB-C Cable (with Trezor Branding)

Lanyard, Keychain & Stickers

Seed Backup Cards and Device Information

Device Description

The Model T is slightly larger than the Trezor One, lacks any external buttons and retains the same ergonomic shape. The key difference is the screen size and its color display. 

The outer casing is entirely made of plastic and are not well-suited for use outside of your immediate computer environment at home. This is reinforced by the deliberate lack of bluetooth functionality as well. 

The Model T also uses a USB-C connection which is easier to use although upon the first attempt was difficult to insert and seemed as if it might break. After a number of connections this issue disappeared, however.

Security & Design

Trezor, and its parent entity SatoshiLabs are pioneers in the development of cold storage wallets. Having developed key BIPs and the first prototypes for commercial hardware, the Model T draws on a legacy of impeccable reputation and skill. 

This is reflected in their website as well, which includes a history of past security issues and related Github activity.

PIN Protection

The first layer of security for your wallet is the device PIN, which you set up first.
The display shows a shuffled 9x9 grid of digits 0-9 each time you are prompted to unlock the device. It’s strongly encouraged that you use the full 9 digits possible to lock the device. 

The PIN is entered directly on the Model T touchscreen, which is likely preferred by most. On the other hand, it could be said that the button size is a bit small and possibly a source of frustration for those with larger fingertips.
The result of an incorrect PIN being input is a 2-second delay which doubles on each attempt to prevent your PIN being brute forced. 

You are given 16 attempts to log in when the incorrect number is submitted, which is an augmentation of the method used by the Trezor One. After 16 attempts, the device wipes itself. 

The device curiously remains unlocked until you disconnect it but there is a single-click “forget device” button as well. 

Recovery Seed Words

Prior to developing hardware wallets, SatoshiLabs introduced the 24-word seed phrase (BIP32 HD wallet) backup method. The Model T is the second iteration of their work on hardware wallets. 

Having secured the physical device itself with a PIN and named your device, you are now directed to either create a new wallet or import one from a backed-up seed phrase. 

Once the seed phrase has been created, you must confirm them on the device directly.
Wallets became much easier to use after the introduction of the seed phrase backup method in BIP39Check out our blog entry on this development in-depth. 

Using recognizable words is a greatly simplified method of managing backup information as cryptographic numbers are not really intended to be directly handled by human eyes. This makes storage, backup and recovery of wallets much more straightforward which is important in successful self-custody.

Remember: The burden of keeping these recovery words is your responsibility!

Restoring your wallet after you lose or destroy your Model T is easy with the use of the recovery words. 

How you secure these words is the real test of the seed phrase method's value.

Using a Billfodl to one-up a paper backup is another easy step to take in keeping your bitcoin safe.
Don't be the one to lose $1,000,000 in Bitcoin after a fire or flood renders your backup phrase illegible. Remeber: your safest bet is in storing them on metal — not on paper!

Passphrase Support

The Model T has the ability to incorporate the "25th seed word". Known officially as the passphrase, the user can use it to add an additional word to the 24 backup words.

Here are some reasons to use one:
1. It will add extra security over the recovery phrase in the event someone finds your 24 seed word backup.

It's essential to know that anyone with these specific 24 words will have the ability to restore your wallet and move the funds. Adding another word of your own choice effectively puts a password on the seed phrase!

2. To implement a "dummy account" on the device which holds a smaller amount of funds. Using this creates plausible deniability against the "$5 Wrench Attack".
How a $5 wrench attack works
The attackers are more likely to leave if they only steal your dummy account. Ending the the attack as quickly as possible while also keeping the majority of your funds in your possession is the objective here.

Multi-signature Security

To take your security to a new level, the Model T allows you to set up a multi-signature scenario where your signing is split between devices. 

This enables a wallet to benefit from being geographically distributed, making a deliberate theft much less obtainable. Funds simply cannot be moved without possession of all the required devices. 

Currently you may only set this up in coordination with the Electrum wallet. There is much flexibility, however, as you can choose to use multiple Trezor devices in varying combinations to sign transactions. 

Adding functionality to do so exclusively with the Trezor wallet/hardware combination is currently in development. 


Shamir's Sharing Secret Backup

One extremely unique function that only the Model T can claim is to create Shamir’s secret backups for your wallet’s seed phrase. 

Through this method, the backup phrase can be split into “shares” which are then secured in different locations. This is similar to the multi-signature function as it declassifies your backup phrase from being a “honeypot” which can be stolen.

Password Manager & SD Card

Another feature exclusive to the Model T is the SD card slot. 

While this currently does not support any functionality, it will eventually allow you to store and encrypt passwords with your Trezor device, using their browser plugin
The card will replace the current integration with Google Drive and DropBox, enabling your backups to be held on your own instead of a centralized server. 

The Trezor website notes “the card will not store your recovery seed or any private keys derived from it.”

Device Setup & Activation

Using a subdomain of the main Trezor website, Trezor wallets are accessed by pairing your browser with the Trezor-bridge


This is a good compromise between Ledger’s dedicated software application (Ledger Live) and the KeepKey’s extension-only method (or integration with an account on the Shapeshift website). 


Bitcoin-only firmware for the Trezor devices was also recently announced.

Whether you're setting up a new wallet or restoring from backup, Billfodl will protect your seed wards against all possible forms of catastrophe. Remember, stainless steel retains undisputed advantages over paper as it is designed to last.

Main Wallet Interface

Security and functionality are of key importance, but that doesn’t rule out any reason to provide additional customizations for a device. As hardware wallets go, Trezor is clearly in the lead when it comes to optimizations and settings. 


Accounts can be renamed, notes and labels saved with DropBox integration and custom home screens are or even designing your own image the home screen image are available options.


Also there are useful links above the wallet which lead you to the staggering amount of information on the Trezor website and blog. Support service can be requested here as well. 


Most notable is the massive Trezor Wiki's user, security, developer, business and general knowledge base. Each element is designed to be most useful in relation to your Trezor devices or the company. 


Even for those that don't own any Trezor devices, the educational resource here is useful and easy to navigate.


Exchange

The wallet interface includes a tab for directly trading Bitcoin for other cryptocurrencies from an exchange. 


The trading takes the form of the “swap” styled interface more than a full-fledged trading environment with price charts, limit orders, etc.

While the trades can be somewhat fine-tuned by amount and transaction fee size they are more or less dependent upon whatever the available exchanges are willing to offer. 


In every instance during the evaluation of these, Changelly and CoinSwitch were the only third parties which had available offers so this feature seems fairly limited in scope.


Wallets & Accounts

The Trezor wallet is organized by device, account and address. The visual layout is appealing and highly functional. 


Users can create new or import pre-Segwit accounts here or choose a custom server. The wallet can display holdings in any of 32 currently supported fiat countervalues as well.


Transactions

Unlike other competing devices, the Model T will happily generate new receiving addresses as much as you like. This is important to ensure you don’t reuse an address, which is bad for your privacy and the network overall. 


A new receiving address is visually confirmed on the device after you create it within the wallet. You also have the option to generate a QR code which is displayed both on the device itself as well as the wallet view in your browser. 


Transaction bundling is also available.  

The flexibility over how your transaction is constructed is also quite remarkable. Not only is it possible to choose from a range of priorities, specific sat/byte ratios can be defined by the user. 


Each selection gives an estimated time to confirmation based on the state of the mempool at that time.

Lastly, signing and verifying messages is possible within the Trezor wallet. The Model T stands out in this regard as a highly capable product when compared to the Ledger and KeepKey devices.

Account Balance & History

Each account’s history can be exported in CSV or PDF formats and indicate the date, time, transaction ID and type, address, value, transaction total and balance. 


These are account-specific instead of combining each account into a single report.

Supported Coins

The Model T natively supports a dizzying array of coins, over 1,000 in fact. While easily besting the KeepKey, you’ll have to scrutinize this page to see how well it stacks up compared to Ledger’s wallets and contrasts to the Trezor One.

Also found here are which 3rd-party wallets can be connected to. The layout and ease of use on this page are unmatched.


In addition to Bitcoin, the Model T also supports:

  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Tether (USDT)
  • Stellar
  • DASH
  • Over 1,000 more

Hardware & Operating System Compatibility

Trezor's Model T can be used with the most popular operating systems, namely Linux, OSX and Windows. 

  • Android

  • iOS

  • OS X

  • Windows

  • Linux


The Screen

Without a screen, a hardware wallet is utterly useless. This is because to properly manage keys and sign transactions offline, you an additional interface (the screen) that is not connected to the internet is required

Verifying your address in this way is a great way to ensure your transaction is being completed as you intend it to.

The Model T wins out over the KeepKey's, the Nano S and Nano X due to its size, the color display and touchscreen capability. 

Using the Trezor Model T Privately

Another high-security option that the Model T allows for is as a strictly signing device. When used in combination with your own node (where your transaction is created), you can more finely control the parameters to optimize anonymity. 

While you can also sign transactions created with the Electrum Personal Serverthere are potential security leaks in doing so.


Summary

The Trezor Model T is a remarkable step up from the already excellent Trezor One. While priced significantly higher, the inclusion of several other types of functionality and upcoming features justify the increase and make this choice a no-brainer for intermediate and advanced bitcoiners. 


With the great reputation of SatoshiLabs behind the Trezor brand, their incredibly information-rich website and wiki (which invite users to indulge self-education) and a well-designed wallet interface, there simply isn’t a better device. 


By adding a Billfodl to compliment your Model T, you’ll have gone miles beyond those that store their funds on an exchange. With both your recovery seed words and signing rights on lockdown, you’ll sleep easy at night and HODL peacefully through the day. 


Pro vs Con

Pros

  • User friendly
  • Reasonably Priced
  • Device must be connected for all operations
  • Passphrase Support
  • Open-Source
  • Good Reputation


Cons

  • No Multi-Signature Capabilities in Trezor Wallet (yet), however this is possible through Electrum
  • No Validation of Change Addresses on the Device
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