Cobo Vault Pro – Hardware Wallet Review

Today we will be taking an in-depth look at the Cobo Vault Pro hardware wallet, and the aim of this review is to look at three main areas:

  1. Ease of Use
  2. Security
  3. Value for money

What comes in the box?

  • Hardware device
  • Detachable battery case
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Charging USB cable
  • Warranty card
  • Mnemonic seed card
  • Quick guide

Cobo Vault pricing

As of writing in June 2020, the price of the Cobo Vault Pro is $149. As with all wallet devices, we recommend that users only order from the official website here.

It is a reasonably priced wallet in comparison to its rivals, with the Trezor one at $159, Nano Ledger X at $119 and Ellipal Titan coming in at $169.

Cobo Vault overview

The Cobo Vault Pro is one of the more premium wallets available on the market which is reflected in the build quality. The device has a nice heavy feel to it and the 4″ touch screen makes it much easier to use than a Trezor or Ledger Nano.

At the size of a small smartphone, it is also much easier to carry than smaller hardware wallets which can easily be lost when transporting.

One of the features that makes the Cobo Vault stand out over the Trezor and Nano Ledger is the use of QR code scanning to airgap the device and we will take about this later in the review.

Cobo Vault is open source, and users can visit their Github here to see how private keys are derived from physically generated entropy (TRNG) and stay entirely confined within the Secure Element.

Like many hardware wallet manufacturers, Cobo provides a paper recovery sheet for users to record their seed. We noticed that they also offer the Cobo Tablet on their website as a separate product, which is a fire and waterproof solution for storing your recovery phrase.

One area for a recommendation here is to make the recovery card plain with no logo identifying it in case it is lost.

Setup Process

The setup process was smooth and is clearly outlined through the guide on the wallet screen. It took us less than 5 minutes to set up the device, store the seed phrase and start receiving coins.

One of the things we liked was the feature where users can authenticate their device once received, to ensure it has not been tampered with during shipping. This is done via the Cobo website and a code is generated to authenticate the device.

Coins Supported

One of the key features for the device is the option for Bitcoin or multi-coin support. The wallet offers a Bitcoin-only firmware version that minimizes the code base and attack surface for bitcoin users.

It also supports unlimited, simultaneous coin storage for the following:

BTC, ETH, BCH, DASH, LTC, ETC, TRX, EOS, USDT, XRP, XZC, IOST and DCR, as well as ETH, EOS, and TRX tokens.

For this review, we set up the multi-coin support option. It must be noted that if the wallet is set up for the Bitcoin-only firmware version, users can not revert to the multi-coin version in the future.

Security

The wallet is air-gapped, meaning that it doesn’t come into contact with other machines at any point. 3G/4G, WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC are not supported, and therefore can’t be used as an attack vector.

To illustrate this, the battery must be detached and charged via a separate dock. When updating the firmware, users need to insert an SD card (loaded with the update) into the back of the device.

The only input the Cobo Vault receives is through its camera, which it uses to scan QR codes from the Cobo smartphone app. With this system, users can still spend the funds they hold on the device without using any cables to connect to another device. We will talk more about the sending and receiving process later in the review.

There is also a fingerprint sensor which allows users to unlock and send funds in public without having to enter a password.

One of the things we liked about this feature was the ability to enter multiple users, meaning more than one person can unlock the device. Perfect for a family or corporate storage.

A critical security feature for the Cobo Vault is the self destruct mechanism. The Cobo Vault’s self-destruct mechanism has two components that touch each other. One is attached to the screen and conducts electricity to the other, which is on the circuit board.

If the two come out of contact, the component on the circuit board will detect that the screen has been removed and immediately erase all sensitive information.

The device will be bricked after the self-destructing mechanism is activated and allows users to destroy the device if they are being held up by bad guys. Please be aware of this if you’re someone who likes taking apart and playing around with hardware wallets.

Hidden Vault

The best feature on the Cobo Vault in our opinion is the Hidden Vault. The hidden vault offers crypto owners a more secure option to store their crypto in case they are attacked and/or forced to show the attacker their digital assets.

Users are able to set up a Hidden Vault within the wallet, which can not be seen from on the main screen. This means users can hide their funds within the wallet from prying eyes and in case the device is lost or stolen. You can create an unlimited number of Hidden Vaults using different Passphrases.

Sending and Receiving

Cobo Vault uses a mobile app to complete operations which require network connection including balance updates, transaction fee calculation, transaction broadcasting, and viewing transaction details on a blockchain explorer. The Cobo Vault hardware wallet signs transactions offline and transmits signing information to the mobile app.

With firmware versions, V1.1.0 and V1.1.0 (BTC-Only) or later, users can set Electrum as a watch-only wallet that functions as the companion app for Cobo Vault Essential or Pro. However, for this review, we have used the mobile app for sending and receiving.

Although this method takes a few minutes to complete the sending process feels much safer than physically connecting a hardware wallet to an online device.

Both Cobo Vault and the Cobo Vault mobile app support displaying receiving addresses. To minimize the use of the hardware wallet, all receiving addresses are displayed on the mobile app.

This means that users don’t have to use their Cobo Vault device to access addresses when receiving coins, they can connect to the mobile app and share the address via a copy/paste or QR code. To generate a new, unique receiving address, users will have to connect to the physical device and create a new receiving address.

We are particularly impressed with the sending process and the two-step process involved. Users use the watch only wallet on the Cobo Vault app or their Electrum wallet to enter the sending details and amounts. Sending fees can also be adjusted by users before confirming the transaction details. Transaction information will be displayed in QR code format at this stage.

Signing the confirmation is an easy process, and users will scan the QR code on the watch only wallet using their Cobo Vault wallet. The transaction is confirmed and verified via the user inputting their password or fingerprint. Another QR code is provided on the wallet for the final broadcasting step.

To broadcast the transaction to the network, scan the QR code on the Cobo Vault wallet using the Cobo app/Electrum and confirm.

Although this may take slightly longer than some users are accustomed to, we feel that this process highly reduces the chances of user error when sending funds. Users have several chances to check the transaction information is correct before sending funds and broadcasting the transaction.

Cobo Vault pros and cons

Pros

  • The large screen allows the user to make use of a full keyboard.
  • Scan, send and broadcast process when sending funds reduces the error of sending transactions incorrectly.
  • The device never comes into contact with any other device and never connected to the internet, significantly reducing attack vectors.
  • The self-destructing mechanism means the device is wiped if physically tampered with.
  • The Hidden Vault ensures users can hide funds on the device.
  • Watch-only wallet via the app means the physical wallet does not need to be accessed when receiving coins.
  • Open-source firmware.
  • Fingerprint Sensor enhances security in public settings and allows multiple users to save their identity.
  • Supports multiple coins and tokens.
  • Lower price than direct competitors.
  • Robust and well-built device.
  • Free shipping to North America, $5 shipping to the European Union.

Cons

  • Shipping times quoted on the website are around 30 days, which is a little long but is most likely due to CoronaVirus.

Opportunities

  • Paper seed recovery included as standard, we can recommend including the metal card as an optional extra.

Closing thoughts

We are impressed with the thought that has gone into the product, which is clearly reflected in the features offered in the Cobo Vault. It represents the new generation of crypto wallet, with much more attention to detail in securing user funds

The ability to scan, send and broadcast transactions reduces the risk for user error and also allows for a much more secure storage process for the user funds.

Moving onto the security features, the two key features we liked about the Cobo Vault was the self destruct mechanism and the hidden vault. These two features greatly reduce the chance of user funds being stolen if the device falls into the wrong hands.

Finally, let us talk about the price and the coins supported. As mentioned earlier in the review the Cobo Vault offers coins support for all the major coins and tokens, pretty much on par with its competitors Trezor, Ellipal and Nano Ledger, minus a few smaller coins here and there.

Price-wise, at $99 for the Cobo Vault Essential and $149 for the Cobo Vault Pro, it is cheaper than both the Trezor One and Ellipal Titan. The Nano Ledger X comes in at slightly cheaper, however, this is reflected in the device size and its feel compared to the much more robust Cobo Vault.

Overall, we can say the Cobo Vault has evidently been designed for users that want a secure and robust storage solution for their cryptocurrency.

If you are interested in finding out more or purchasing a Cobo Vault wallet you can visit the Cobo website here.

Disclaimer

This review is not sponsored and the Cobo team donated a Cobo Vault Pro wallet to our team for this review.

The content provided in this review is for educational and informative purposes only. You should not construe any such information on this review as legal, tax, investment, or financial advice.

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