Kensington VeriMark Fingerprint Key Review: Easy Windows Sign-ins

by Reads (1,265)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 9
      • Features
      • 7
      • Performance
      • 7
      • Durability
      • 8
      • Utility
      • 6
      • Functionality
      • 6
      • Total Score:
      • 7.17
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Reliably recognizes fingerprints
    • Extremely portable
  • Cons

    • Supports only Windows, not Android or MacOS

Microsoft’s Hello system makes Windows sign-ins a snap, if you have a computer that either has a fingerprint scanner or a high-res camera. The Kensington VeriMark Fingerprint Key is a biometric scanner that can be added to any Windows PC with a USB-A port. We tested it to see how well it performs.

Kensington VeriMark

Kensington VeriMark Build & Design

This accessory is designed to have a minimal profile outside of the USB port. In total, it’s 0.75 by 0.6 x 0.3 inches. The portion that is outside the USB port is about 0.25 in. thick, and the especially brave might consider carrying their laptop or tablet around with the VeriMark still inserted.

Kensington does provide a carrying case, though. This is 1.2 by 0.6 by 0.3 inches, and has a large loop to make it easy to attach to something, like a keychain or gear bag.

The VeriMark has an LED status light that lights up blue when this accessory is ready to scan a fingerprint. It blinks blue when it has successfully recognized a one, or blinks red if it doesn’t.

Build quality is good for something that’s mostly plastic, and the reader fits securely in its carrying case. It’s more likely something this small is going to get lost before it gets broken, but there’s nothing Kensington can do about that.

Kensington VeriMark Performance

The VeriMark Fingerprint Key performs its essential function very well. In our tests, it consistently recognized the fingerprint it was trained for on the first try with very few exceptions. It never gave a single false positive in our tests. Kensington promises that its product has a False Rejection Rate (FRR) of 3%, and a False Acceptance Rate (FAR) of 0.002%.

We tested this biometric device with the finger held at a wide range angles without issues. The only source of problems we found was water: it’s unable to recognize wet fingertips, but that’s typical of fingerprint scanners.

It’s not necessary to move the finger over the scanner; a simple press will do.  And recognition is very quick: a half second or less.

As USB ports are a constrained resource, we checked to be sure the VeriMark will work when plugged into a hub. It passed this test with flying colors.

This accessory uses Microsoft’s Windows Hello system, so it doesn’t need an additional application developed by Kensington. All that’s required to start using it is to plug in the reader and train it.

The training process is a simple one. When prompted by the Settings app, repeatedly press one’s finger onto the reader to show it the fingertip’s loops and whorls. Windows Hello can be trained to look for multiple fingerprints, like the left and right index fingers.


Thereafter, all that necessary to sign into Windows is touch the VeriMark reader. And if this biometric security device isn’t available, the user can simply type in their password instead.

The VeriMark Fingerprint Key supports only Microsoft’s operating system, and works best with Windows 10. It cannot be used with Android or MacOS.

VeriMark Password Manager

Kensington offers an optional password manager for Google’s Chrome web browser. This can be used to store user names and passwords for web sites, and then automatically fill them in at a touch of the fingerprint scanner. At this time, this feature doesn’t work with Microsoft Edge.

As a test, we configured this application to store a Facebook password. On re-opening this social networking service’s website, our user name was automatically filled in and the VeriMark’s blue LED activated to show it was ready. A touch of the finger to the scanner and the password was filled in. The Chrome extension even automatically submitted the form.

Beyond the browser, the VeriMark Password Manager app can encrypt individual files that can be opened later with a successful fingerprint scan. The encryption process is simple, just requiring a right click on the file.

Other Apps with Two-Factor Authentication

There are many Windows applications that can be configured to require two types of authentication: a password and a biometric security scan. VeriMark can be used with these too, thanks to its support for FIDO U2F

For example, a change in the settings for the DropBox website results in it being necessary to tap this fingerprint scanner and also enter a password to access the files stored on this cloud service.

VeriMark Final Thoughts

The VeriMark Fingerprint Key is easy to use, and very reliable. It’s also so small that many will be tempted to just leave it plugged into their computer. Anyone who has a Windows 10 laptop or 2-in-1 that doesn’t have built-in biometric security should consider this handy accessory and stop typing in passwords all the time.

Just don’t try to use it with a Mac or an Android tablet.

Kensington charges $49.99 for this product. There are rival biometric fingerprint scanners on the market that cost a bit less, but none from a company with as well-established a reputation  as Kensington’s.

Pros:

  • Reliably recognizes fingerprints
  • Extremely portable

Cons:

  • Supports only Windows, not Android or MacOS



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