Picture of the Digital BitBox

Digital BitBox Review (2018)

Digital BitBox Review (2018)
  • Beginner Friendly
  • Design
  • Security
  • Documentation
  • Supported Cryptocurrencies
  • Price
3.9

Summary

The Digital BitBox is an affordable Swiss-made hardware wallet, which is small and discreet. While I did like it, I feel like the Ledger Nano S or Trezor would be a better choice for someone looking to buy their first hardware wallet.

The Digital BitBox is a minimalistic cryptocurrency hardware wallet which helps you easily keep your hard-earned coins safe.

Find out my thoughts about it in this Digital BitBox review.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Advantages

  • Open source.
  • Doesn’t look or feel cheap.
  • Compact, lightweight, and discreet.
  • Setup and wallet backup is lemon squeezy.
  • Desktop client is simple and easy to use.
  • Native Bech32 in the desktop app.

Disadvantages

  • Supports fewer cryptocurrencies than other hardware wallets.
  • Doesn’t have a screen on the device (to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks).
  • Documentation isn’t great.

What is a Digital BitBox?

The Digital BitBox is a cryptocurrency hardware wallet which was engineered and produced in Switzerland by Shift Devices. It was originally released in 2016.

Hardware wallets like the Digital BitBox don’t expose your private keys. They’re kept isolated on a high-security, tamper-resistant chip. Even if your computer was infected with malware, your funds can’t be moved unless you physically confirm the transaction.

Hardware wallets are well-recommended across the crypto-community. That’s because they’re loads better than a hot wallet (e.g., a standard desktop or mobile wallet), are easy-to-use, and incredibly convenient.

Supported Coins

The Digital BitBox currently supports the following cryptocurrencies:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • ERC-20 Tokens (e.g., 0x, BAT, and REP).
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Ethereum Classic (ETC)

Unboxing

This ships in a slim cardboard box, which has some basic information printed on the back.

Once opened, you’ll see that it includes:

  • The Digital BitBox
  • An 8GB SanDisk MicroSD
  • 2x Stickers

It includes no documentation, as it’s all online.

Design

The Digital BitBox is the most compact (45 x 18 x 7mm) and lightweight wallet (4g) that I’ve reviewed. It’s the most discreet too – it looks just like a standard USB. It has a small bit of branding on the back, but nowhere near as obvious as the Trezor or Ledger Nano S.

The USB exterior is filled with epoxy, which makes it tough, durable, and suitable for hanging on your keychain. Apparently, that’s the same material used in bullet-proof glass!

You’ll confirm transactions by softly pressing and holding on the dipped side (on the top). Funds won’t be sent from wallets generated on the Digital BitBox unless you physically confirm the transaction.

There’s no screen on the device. You’ll have to connect your mobile phone to securely verify transactions and receiving addresses. It’s critical you set this up ASAP to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. Setting this up is simple and easy, and is detailed below.

Getting Started

Initial Setup

Important: If your Digital BitBox arrives pre-setup, do not use it. Just contact the retailer or manufacturer and sit tight.

For full setup instructions, go over to digitalbitbox.com/start

It only takes about 5 minutes to set it up:

  • Download and install the latest desktop app (Windows, MacOS, Linux).
  • Insert MicroSD into Digital BitBox, then plug the device into your computer.

  • Select ‘Create a New Wallet’.

  • You’ll be asked to set a device password.

  • Update the firmware (this takes about 2-3 minutes).

  • Once updated, follow the instructions for creating a new wallet.
  • Once you’ve created your wallet:
    • Unplug the Digital BitBox.
    • Remove the MicroSD.
    • Plug the Digital BitBox back in.

  • That’s it! You’re ready to use your Digital BitBox!

Wallet Backups

You should keep your MicroSD in a safe and secure place. This contains the information needed to restore access to your wallets should your Digital BitBox be broken, lost, or stolen. If you can’t memorise your recovery password, keep that somewhere safe too.

The backup is saved as a PDF file on the MicroSD card. If you wish to make a paper backup, you can print (or copy) it from an offline computer. If you’re interested in that, there are more details here.

If you lose your backups, you won’t be able to recover your funds if you Digital BitBox is broken, lost, or stolen. Keep them safe!

Pairing and 2FA

Because the Digital BitBox doesn’t have a screen, you’ll need to pair it with your mobile phone to verify receiving addresses and outgoing transaction details. Once I’d setup my Digital BitBox, I enabled this straight away.

Follow these instructions to pair your Digital BitBox with your smartphone.

  • Install the Digital BitBox mobile app (Apple & Android)
  • Access your Digital BitBox, then select ‘Manage Device’ in the sidebar.

  • Select ‘Pair Mobile App’.
  • You’ll be shown a QR code. Scan that with the mobile app.

  • Follow the instructions on the mobile app.

 

  • Done! The Digital BitBox should now be paired with the mobile app.

Wallet Interface

You can access your bitcoin (BTC) and litecoin (LTC) wallets through the BitBox desktop app. It doesn’t look fancy, but it’s simple and easy to use.

To check out what receiving and sending look like, expand the sections below.

Receiving Bitcoin (BTC)

This is how you receive bitcoin (BTC) with a Digital BitBox.

  • In the sidebar, select ‘Bitcoin’.
  • When you select ‘Receive’, it’ll show a receiving address.
  • If you’ve paired your Digital BitBox with a smartphone, you can verify the receiving address by selecting ‘Verify Address Securely’ in the bottom right.

  • Check the receiving address (against the desktop and mobile app) once you’ve copy/pasted it.
  • Send the bitcoin (BTC) to the verified address.

  • Done! Shortly after, the desktop should confirm this incoming transaction.

Sending Bitcoin (BTC)

This is how you send bitcoin (BTC) from your Digital BitBox.

  • In the sidebar, select ‘Bitcoin’.

  • When you select ‘Send’, you should see something like this.
  • Fill in and check all the details.
  • Click ‘Sign and Send’ when you’re ready.

  • You’ll be prompted to confirm this by touching the Digital BitBox for about 3 seconds. If you have 2FA enabled, you’ll need to confirm the details on your smartphone too.

  • Done! Shortly after, the desktop should show this outgoing transaction

To access your ethereum (ETH) wallet and ERC-20 tokens (e.g., 0x, BAT, REP), you’ll need to use MyEtherWallet. Check out this page for setup instructions.

Additional Features

Hidden Wallets

The Digital BitBox supports hidden wallets, which are a plausible deniability feature. This hidden wallet will look like your main wallet but is actually a functional decoy.

If you are ever forced to open your Digital BitBox, you can just open this hidden wallet instead. Although you could leave this empty, hidden wallets are more plausible if they have a balance and some transaction history.

There’s more information in their manual.

Multisig Support

The Digital BitBox can be used with multisignature bitcoin (BTC) wallets like Copay. This means that you can setup a wallet which requires verification from multiple participants before funds will be sent.

More information available in their manual.

U2F Support

Universal Two Factor (U2F) allows you to add extra security to some of your online accounts (Google, Facebook, Dropbox, GitHub, and more). Once added to these services, you won’t be able to login without authenticating through the Digital BitBox. You’ll do that by plugging it in and touching it.

It’s not supported by many websites right now, but acceptance is (slowly) growing.

Compatible with Tails OS and TOR

I haven’t tested this myself, but the Digital BitBox should work (without much hassle) with Tails, an OS which preserves privacy and anonymity.

If you’re interested in setting this up, there are some breadcrumbs here.

Digital BitBox Price

The Digital BitBox costs about £69 / €79 / $89 from the official Digital BitBox website. If you’re outside Switzerland, you’ll need to pay import fees (which vary).

You’ll usually be able to buy it cheaper from official resellers. If you’re from the UK, it’s currently £59 on MyHardwareWallet (with free delivery).

WalletPrice (incl. VAT & shipping)Review
Digital BitBox£69 / €79 / $89You’re reading it!
Ledger Nano S£90 / €101 / $115Ledger Nano S Review
Trezor£84 / €95 / $108Trezor Review
Coldcard£55 / €62 / $70Coldcard Review

Digital BitBox Alternatives

Although there’s a lot to like about the Digital BitBox, there are two things I didn’t like:

  • It doesn’t have a screen on the device.
  • It only supports 5 cryptocurrencies (plus ERC-20 tokens).

All the other hardware wallets I’ve reviewed have small screens (to verify addresses and transactions details) on the device itself. You can confirm address details by connecting the Digital BitBox to your smartphone (over an encrypted and private communication channel), but I do prefer having an on-device screen.

While the Digital BitBox does support the most popular cryptocurrencies, it’s nowhere near the Ledger Nano S or Trezor. Both of these support over 20 cryptocurrencies.

Summary: How Does the Digital BitBox Compare?

I do like the Digital BitBox. It’s cheap, simple, and easy-to-use hardware wallet.

However, I wouldn’t recommend it to someone buying their first hardware wallet.

That’s not because it’s not a great product. It really is.

It’s because the competition from the Ledger Nano S, Trezor, and Trezor Model T is so strong. They all support loads of popular cryptocurrencies, are a breeze to setup and use (even for a complete beginner) and are well-recommended across the community. With the exception of the Trezor Model T, they’re all about the same price too (<£100).

You can learn more about these alternatives in my other hardware wallet reviews:

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