1st class citizens run their own Bitcoin Full Node, Part 4.
A review of the user experience around ordering, buying, setting up, running and servicing 3 different standalone devices with Bitcoin Full Node implementations and more.
In the previous installments, I covered the 2 first sections of my customer journey breakdown, so in this piece, we will do 2 more.
Packaging and unboxing
Setup, updates and initial Blockchain Download
The GUI and ease of use/interaction with the device
Customer service during the full journey
Section 3 - Packaging and unboxing.
The device comes in a nice thick cardboard box. It looks and feels like quality from the outside and its a nice experience to hold it in your hand, unbox it and so one.
It can be compared to the experience you would get if you bought an Apple device like an Apple TV or a Mac mini. It looks slick and builds on the experience from the website, so they are nicely tied together in terms of the perception of quality.
When you open the box, the device sits there “fixed” and doens’t scoot around or anything. Cables are nicely placed and it just looks like it should. New and untouched. Almost too slick (and probably costly) for a Bitcoiner like me, but the vast majority of customers will really love this packaging.
So from a commercial perspective, Casa has definitely nailed this part 100%.
Casa: 5 points.
The device comes in a little “no-name” cardboard box with small pieces of foam to hold together the contents of the box so it doesn’t scoot around. There are cables, the actual myNode device, and the SSD drive.
The myNode device is a small sturdy black plastic box, about the size of stack of business cards and has a nice feel to it. Its kinda cute in a way and has a little sticker on top.
The SSD is wrapped in a plastic coating and its obvious that they have bought that from an external supplier, and it shows that they had to open the plastic coating to use the SSD when doing the initial Blockchain Sync, only to put it back to the same (now used and opened) plastic coating after.
Nothing is missing and nothing is broken, and it still feels “new”, I just think myNode could do a bit better here, and with a few small adjustments, myNode could greatly improve the unboxing experience for the buyers of the device.
myNode: 3 points
The Red Beast (Samourai Nodl Dojo);
The biggest device of the 3. So naturally a bigger box. Everything packed as it should be, no shiny Apple like cardboard boxes, but a more sturdy and a more “complete” experience than the myNode one.
The device itself is a badass aluminum Red Beast Samourai heavy brick-like construction. It feels so good to hold, and it makes you feel cypherpunk as hell when you have it in your hand.
You can see that effort has been put into the construction and you also get the feeling that passionate people did it with a small dedicated team and no big factories or anything like that. It builds nicely on my perception of the more hardcore Bitcoin community and it made me feel powerful knowing that I could soon connect the best privacy-focused wallet to my own self-sovereign standalone DOJO backend.
Red Beast: 4 points
Section 4 - Setup, updates, and initial Blockchain Download.
Very easy to set up, connect and get running. Good instructional resources both on the website as well as on YouTube. Anyone can set this up without any problems at all
Very easy and straight forward almost full plug & play.
After the device was up and running it quickly got up to speed with the Bitcoin blockchain and was fully operational in less than 4 hours. That even included a software update over Tor also.
Out of the 3 devices, it’s clearly the easiest for noobs to get up and running, and I haven’t had to restart it yet and also didn’t need any CLI interactions at all.
Casa: 5 points
Also very easy to set up initially with a lot of great step by step guides to follow. Those guides have really helped me and if you are not afraid to read a bit and play around a bit, then you should be good.
Even though the device comes pre-synced, It does take a lot of time to get up to speed with the Bitcoin Blockchain with the default settings. I had to wait almost 60 hours for the initial “quick sync” mechanism to catch up to the correct block height.
It’s easy to install updates to the device and Taylor and the team have fully automated the process so mostly you just have to press the update button, and you are good.
Via the GUI you can select which services to run and which apps to install to the device which is nice. This means that you can pretty easily set up your node to do what you want it to, and everything can be done over Tor.
This is my current setup -including Dark Mode, and I love it. It’s not as easy as the Casa, but it’s fine and I am a fan.
myNode: 4 points
The Red Beast:
As I mentioned in one of my first parts of the review, I expected the Red Beast to be the device out of the 3 that has the highest level of complexity, and it was my clear expectation that the Red Beast would be the one I would struggle with the most.
That’s clearly wrong and I stand corrected.
The instructions are very clear, and it’s easy and fast to set up and get running. The initial sync is also fast and it’s overall a very good experience to interact with the device, Nodl backend, and the DOJO maintenance tool over Tor etc.
It’s easy to pair your Samourai wallet with your Nodl DOJO, and its also easy to pair the Whirpool Desktop client with your Nodl DOJO.
I am very positively surprised how easy it is, and my Red Beast has had zero downtime except for the one time where I lost power at my house. We might need to get a serious UPS or generator to fall back on. -But that’s a topic for another time.
Red Beast 5 points
Standings after 4 sections:
myNode; 17 points, Red Beast: 17 points, Casa: 16 points
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