Reviews

Simple Crypto Cold Storage - Ballet Real Series Review

Simple Crypto Cold Storage - Ballet Real Series Review
In: Reviews, Wallets

Today I’m reviewing the Real Series crypto wallet by Ballet. It’s a sleek and durable crypto cold storage solution that that offers a combination of style and functionality. It’s easy to use and has a variety of features that make it a viable choice for anyone looking to keep their digital assets safe. But is it the right wallet for you? I’ll soon delve further into the details of this wallet, but first a disclaimer. This is a sponsored review and Ballet sent me these products for the purpose of making this video. They don’t have any editorial control or review rights to the video and therefore it is purely my unbiased opinion. With that out of the way, let’s start by taking a closer look at the company who produces the Real Series wallet.

Founded in 2019, Ballet is based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and manufactures crypto cold storage products. Their founder, Bobby Lee, is well known in the cryptocurrency space having been involved in Bitcoin since 2011. In that year he founded BTCC, which went on to be one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world before he sold it in 2018. Bobby also manufactured physical Bitcoins through the BTCC Mint, including Bitcoin Poker chips, which have become prized collectables among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. It’s unsurprising that his new company Ballet now produces another physical product to meet the needs of crypto users in the modern age.

Ballet says that the Real Series is the most easy to use, non-electronic, physical crypto wallet. Essentially, it’s a fancy paper wallet with the same level of security as other wallets, containing both a private and public key. On the Ballet store, use this link and coupon code OTTO for 5% off, the Real Series come in 2 different materials: either stainless steel at $35 or 24K gold-plated at $99. There are also a range of designs for various cryptocurrencies and events like Bitcoin pizza day or year of the tiger. While a Real Series wallet may proudly display the address for a specific coin, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, they support the storage of 100+ coins as well as some of the more popular NFTs. More on this later in the video.

The steel version of the Real Series wallet arrives in tamper-proof cardboard packaging, and it is clearly labelled with instructions. Inside you get the wallet and a protective acrylic case. The 24k gold plated version is similarly packaged, although in addition to the standard acrylic case there is a much nicer, magnetically sealed enclosure for the wallet to be put on display. With both wallet types, I was pleasantly surprised with their build quality. When holding it in your hand there is a real premium feel and it’s got some weight to it. These wallets are manufactured in the U.S.A., and you can tell they haven’t used low quality or cheap materials in the manufacturing process. The protective cases were a nice touch that I was not expecting, and they reminded me of bullion bars that come in similar enclosures. I particularly liked the display case that came with the more expensive gold wallet which, given its thickness, can be stood upright on a desktop or on a shelf. At this point I was already convinced that these wallets would make cool gifts, just based upon their appearance alone. Going back to the cardboard packaging, you’ll see a diagram that identifies the various elements that make up the Ballet Real Series wallet. Before using your wallet, you should check to see that there is no honeycomb pattern around the QR code, which indicates tampering. You’ll also want to check that the wallet passphrase hasn’t been scratched off and that the serial numbers are visible. If that’s all good, then your wallet is safe.

To start using the wallet, scan the QR code on the front of the packaging to download the Ballet app from the app store. Its available on IOS and Android mobile devices, but there’s also a desktop client for Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Inside the app, hit the scan button at the bottom of the screen and then you’ll be prompted to scan the QR code on the front of your Real Series wallet. You can also import images from your phone if the app struggles to scan the QR code properly. Once complete, the wallet will have been imported into the app. From here, you can send coins to the wallet by selecting it and then going to ‘add more coins or tokens’. This page will allow you to enable or disable various cryptocurrencies within the wallet. Once you’re finished, go back to the previous page and select the cryptocurrency you wish to receive. The app will display the receiving address as a QR code that can be scanned, as well as in plaintext so it can be copied to the clipboard. Alternatively, if you are wanting to receive the cryptocurrency displayed on the front of your physical wallet, which in my case is Bitcoin, you can simply scan the QR code there. After sending the transaction, the balance will instantly appear in the Ballet app with no confirmations required – unlike many other wallets that annoyingly display nothing until the transaction is confirmed.

This process is extremely easy and in case you didn’t notice, there was no setup required and the wallet was ready to use right out of the box. Usually with both hardware and software wallets, the setup process involves things like installing the latest firmware on the device as well as backing up and verifying the private keys. If done right, that process can easily take upwards of 15 minutes and for complete beginners, dealing with new concepts like seed phrase backups might be enough for them to make a mistake or deter them completely. This is one of the reasons why I think the Ballet Real Series is well suited for crypto beginners since they can start using it right away without any complexity.

Next up, lets try sending cryptocurrency with the Ballet Real Series. With your wallet selected in the app, hit the send button, and then choose a cryptocurrency. Paste in the destination address and enter the amount you wish to send. The following screen will prompt you to scratch off and reveal the passphrase on the front of the physical wallet. After which, you enter that passphrase into the app. Then, peel up the holographic sticker on the wallet to reveal its private key, scan it with the app and then hit ‘send now’ to broadcast the transaction. This process is the same for all the coins and it will need to be repeated any time you want to send a transaction. So in order to send you’ll require both the app and the physical wallet, but when receiving you can rely purely on the app.

In addition to sending and receiving, the Ballet app has other functionality built in. Such as the ability to buy or swap cryptocurrencies through 3rd party services, which is pretty standard for crypto wallets these days. As usual, when buying crypto through these services the fees are high at 5% of the transaction amount, so it’s not something I’d personally use. Although its good to have if you need some crypto quickly and have no other option. With the swapping functionality, the fees are in the same realm and that’s the price you pay for convenience. Certainly if you are just a casual crypto user and have no interest in using complex trading interfaces on exchanges, then you may be cool with that. The swaps are fast and they are good in that they do not require KYC and you are not required to store you coins on an exchange, which could put them at risk of being stolen in an FTX-like situation. One advanced feature offered by Ballet is Air-Gapped Singing. What it allows you to do is sign transactions on an offline device and then broadcast them with an online device. In this way, your private key is only read by the offline device and therefore it reduces the risk of it being exposed to malware or a hacked device. To do an air-gapped transaction you’ll need 2 phones with the Ballet app installed on them. One is offline and the other is online. Take the online phone and in the settings, enable expert mode. Then go and create a transaction as you normally would, and after entering the amount and destination address, check the air-gapped signing option at the bottom before proceeding. A QR code will be displayed on the screen, and you’ll need to scan this with the offline phone. With the offline phone, enter the passphrase on your wallet, and then peel back to sticker to reveal the private key and scan it. A QR code will be displayed on the screen, and that is when you grab the online device once again to scan it. After this, you can broadcast the transaction that you signed offline. This is a cool feature if you’re wanting to take extra precautions, although I don’t think it’s something that would interest the target audience of this product.

One major criticism of the Ballet Real Series wallet is the fact that it comes with the private key already generated. I understand that it’s done to provide an easy and simple experience for the end-user, but this fact completely rules out this wallet as an option for many enthusiast level crypto users who adhere to the mantra “don’t trust, verify”. In saying this, on Ballet’s website they say that the manufacturing process has been carefully designed so that the company and employees are unable to access the private key. They do this by utilizing the BIP38 standard and a two-factor key generation process, where the two components that make up the private key are generated in different geographic locations. You can read more about this through a link I’ll put in the description. I have no reason to doubt their manufacturing process, and it may well be as secure as they say. One point in Ballet’s favor is that, as I previously mentioned, Bobby Lee the founder of Ballet, manufactured physical Bitcoins and Bitcoin poker chips which have an excellent reputation. They basically had the same QR code sticker that showed the public key on the outside, and the private key underneath. Over 30,000 of these collectibles were manufactured and sold all over the world, which held a collective value of over 8000 BTC. Some of these have been redeemed, but nobody has ever claimed that their Bitcoins had been stolen.

There are some other downsides to the Real Series wallet. The first being that when receiving coins like Bitcoin, you have no choice but to use the same address repeatedly. Generally speaking, a good practice to increase privacy is to never reuse the same address and always generate new addresses. Another thing is that with normal paper wallets, it is not recommended that you reuse it after scanning the private key and normally you would just print off a new one. This is because the private key has been exposed to your internet connected device, and the wallet can’t really be considered ‘cold storage’ anymore. I guess that is where the air-gapped signing function makes up for this. In terms of the product’s design; while the wallet’s body is steel the important information, such as the passphrase and the private key, are not stamped into the steel. In the event of a fire, the laser engraved passphrase may survive but I doubt that the private key sticker would. So unless you write down those two parts and keep a copy somewhere, you only have 1 copy of your wallet and if it is lost, stolen or destroyed, your coins are gone.

In my opinion, none of these downsides will matter for the intended audience of this wallet, who are casual crypto users and complete beginners. For this group, I think it’s a great crypto entry point and it will meet their needs by providing both a simple and enjoyable experience. One thing I’ve found with beginners is that they like to see something physical, and they can’t quite wrap their head around the digital money thing yet. So I think that Ballet solves that problem by giving people something they can hold in their hand while being introduced to these new concepts. While I’d say the Ballet Real Series doesn’t meet my personal needs as a cryptocurrency enthusiast, after getting my hands on the product it did exceed my expectations particularly in terms of build quality and design. I’ll be keeping them on display in my office to show off, and certainly I’ll be buying more of them as gifts given that they come at a very affordable price point. If you’re interested in picking up the Ballet Real Series wallet, make sure to use this link and coupon code OTTO to get 5% off your purchase. If you found this video helpful, please leave me a thumbs up and subscribe to the channel. I’ll catch you in the next video.

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