Kensington VeriMark Desktop Fingerprint Key First Impressions

Posted on April 1, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 23 Comments

Kensington recently announced its VeriMark Desktop Fingerprint Key, which lets you add Windows Hello fingerprint recognition to any Windows 10 PC. The company was nice enough to send along a review unit, which I’m testing now with my Intel NUC.

So far, it’s all good news: The VeriMark Desktop Fingerprint Key couldn’t be easier to set up and configure, and if you’re familiar with how this works from a laptop or other portable PC, then you already understand the process.

There’s not much going on from a packaging perspective, either. The VeriMark Desktop Fingerprint Key arrives in a small white box, and aside from a bit of paperwork, the only thing inside there is the key itself, which is hard-wired to a USB-A cable.

To attach the Fingerprint Key to a PC, just plug it into an available USB-A port. On my NUC, unfortunately, I only have a front-facing USB-A port available, and that’s not exactly ideal. But I’ll experiment later with using some kind of USB dock or hub so I can hide the cable.

When you plug in the Key, Windows 10 displays only the familiar “Setting up a device” and “Device is ready” notification banners. There’s no installation program or whatever.

To configure the Key, you need to navigate to Settings (WINKEY + I) > Accounts > Sign-in options and then select “Windows Hello Fingerprint,” as you would on a portable PC with an integrated fingerprint reader.

Then, you just step through the familiar Windows Hello setup wizard, which asks you to repeatedly lift and press a finger on the sensor and then try various angles for accuracy.

And that’s it: Unless you want to add another finger, you’re ready to go.

I’ve only just added the Kensington VeriMark Desktop Fingerprint Key to my NUC, but so far so good: I’ve tested it by manually locking the PC a few times and then unlocking it with my fingerprint. It seems to be fast and accurate.

I’ll report back if anything changes. But this looks like a great solution for those, like me, that like the convenience of Windows Hello but prefer the more intentional sign-on of a fingerprint reader instead of a webcam.

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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Kensington VeriMark Desktop Fingerprint Key First Impressions”

  1. Avatar

    gregsedwards

    I picked up super-cheap (~$25) USB fingerprint scanner on Amazon a few years ago. Zero setup (well, beyond registering my prints in Windows Hello). Works great. Supports multiple Windows user accounts.

  2. Avatar

    kawaidon

    I have problems with all fingerprint readers. They are too dependent on the moisture level in your skin!

    During dry weather it's common for the reader to not work at all. I rub my finger behind my ear, or use a little hand lotion, then it usually works.

    I much prefer using the facial recognition, and while expensive the Logitech Brio works wonderfully.

    ...... except when I'm wearing my Covid mask, of course.


  3. Avatar

    dougkinzinger

    Fingerprint authentication doesn't get enough love. I've been using it as my primary source of login at home, work, and laptops since 2006 when Vista first added support for WBF drivers, WITHOUT any third-party login software. I have used - and still use to now, though this Kensington may get me to replace it - an Authentec WBF USB fingerprint reader. In fact when Vista came out I reached out to the Authentec folks back in the day (back before they got bought by Apple in 2012) and they provided me with beta WBF drivers that made it all work. It's a bit of a chore to make it work today on fresh builds of 10, but it is doable. It'll be nice to have something else to choose from in this Kensington though.

  4. Avatar

    Scsekaran

    'Microsoft Modern Keyboard with fingerprint ID' - As the name suggests, it has finger print scanner included in one of the keys. It was available around 2017 but I couldn't find it anymore. It was a wireless Bluetooth keyboard.

    Only the version without fingerprint ID is available now.

  5. Avatar

    MikeCerm

    I dream of the day when I can just sit down at my desk and tap the fingerprint sensor and I'm instantly logged in, but having another thing on my desk with a wire, and paying more than $25 for it seems like a bridge too far. There are cheaper alternatives, but I feel like this will only ever become mainstream when it's built into keyboard or into a mouse. Both are things that one needs to have anyway, and so much of the cost goes away if you just build a little sensor into something else. If a keyboard costs $50 at retail, one with an integrated fingerprint reader should cost no more than $60. That's the only way this is ever going to go mainstream.

  6. Avatar

    davehelps

    Typo, paragraph 4... I'm assuming you don't attack the device 🙂

  7. Avatar

    roncerr

    Little known feature: Windows let's you sign on with a password. There's also netpwwiz.

  8. Avatar

    czenisek

    I've been using the Kensington VeriMark USB Fingerprint Key with Windows Hello for several months and it works as well as any other fingerprint reader. I love logging in to my desktop with one touch.

  9. Avatar

    CRoebuck

    I worked for a biometrics startup a few years back that designed and sold the capacitive touch sensors along with an integrated matcher (on-chip matching being more secure) used in one of the first external USB sensors for Windows Hello. The sensors themselves were commoditised very quickly making it difficult to recover the investment in matching algorithms or the cost of licensing a commercial matcher, without mega-volume orders. For Apple, this is possible through iPhone volumes but for a company making an external USB sensor not so much. One way would be to use a much simpler matching algorithm or do it off-chip (less secure). Add in the costs of mitigating environmental factors like trying to match a fingerprint covered in sun lotion and you can understand why these things only show up in volume runners.

  10. Avatar

    angusmatheson

    I like finger print readers better then facial recognition. Not sure if living in the year of masks has affected my perception. I’m am right now using a Mac and unlocking with my Apple Watch. And it is a delight. I haven’t tested it to see if someone could steal my laptop and be near me and open it. If I get a little buzz on my wrist when it happens. In the end I think biometrics will be more secure than pins and passwords and even keys. I wish they were on every device and worked quickly all the time. Sadly that is the same imaginary world where digital assistants (Alexa, Siri, Cortana) always understand what you say and never accidentally order you a shipment of hamsters when you want directions to a hamburger place.

  11. Avatar

    jordan_meyer

    Typo in 4th paragraph:

    "To attack the finger print reader just.... "


    Should be attach unless it was more frustrating to use than you've let on in your article:)

  12. Avatar

    vladimir

    very interesting, thanks. I never understood if using a physical authentication method like a fingerprint reader avoids using 2-factor authentication, looking up numbers in sms messages, e-mails or even using an authenticator app on the phone. Did you have the opportunity to test with that?

  13. Avatar

    ponsaelius

    I would have thought by 2021 support for Windows Hello would be universal. I think these shouldn't be necessary. Laptops should all have biometric authentication. Keyboards should have it too. The mobile world has had fingerprint or face authentication for years.


    I have a cheap (£15) chinese usb fingerprint reader on my 3-year-old laptop from Asus. It works well. However, I feel the power key should just have one.


    I am not having a go at this device. It's filling a market gap. I just think in 2021 that gap shouldn't exist.

  14. Avatar

    nanovak

    I've had a Verifi P2000 reader connected to my home machine and my one at in my office at work for years. Fully Windows Hello capable and works great.


    That said, there is a flaw here. Naturally you'd expect to be able to walk up to a machine that's asleep or on/idle and unlock with your finger to both authenticate and awaken the computer/screen. HOWEVER, about 10% of the time I've found this results in a BSOD. I'm pretty sure this is a Windows Hello bug because I've experienced this on multiple machines - even laptops with built-in fingerprint readers - and it's been happening to both myself and my wife for years. The solution is to wake up the machine first (I hit the space bar and wait a couple seconds for everything to come alive) and then touch the reader. While the workaround is fine, it's annoying and the bug is easy to trigger if you're in a rush (i.e. you don't wait long enough for the login prompt to show up on the screen).

  15. Avatar

    harmjr

    Paul can you set up and test on a dock with a laptop. I had a white finger print reader years ago that worked with windows hello ok until you disconnected the laptop. Upon reconnection I would have to reconfigure windows hello.

  16. Avatar

    wordz42

    Kensington website says it's "sold out" (as of 4/1/2021).

  17. Avatar

    Mcgillivray

    Could this not be wireless?

    • Avatar

      MikeCerm

      In reply to Mcgillivray:

      Theoretically it could be, but it's already pretty expensive and making it wireless would make it even more expensive because you'd need to fit a battery in there. And then it would take three times longer to work every time you want to log in because it would have to wake up, unless you run it in an "always-on" way, which would mean an even bigger battery.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      I would think so. The issue here, wired or wireless, was always that the signal could somehow be intercepted and faked, but I assume this has been resolved by now.
  18. Avatar

    jgraebner

    I ordered one of these after seeing the initial article about it on here and the package is expected tomorrow. Glad to see the positive report on it. It sounds like it is pretty much just what I wanted.


    My plan is to plug it in to the USB port on my KVM switch, so I can use it both for my personal and work computers. Since the switch is tucked away, the long cable on this is ideal.

  19. Avatar

    mattbg

    It's a nice option, but the aesthetics are less than ideal :)


    The idea of building the fingerprint reader into the mouse seems like the best option to me.


    If I had one of these, I'd probably be taping it to the back of my monitor or something like that.

  20. Avatar

    jgraebner

    In reply to SvenJ:

    It initially wasn't getting enough power from the port on the KVM switch, so I had to add a powered USB hub to the mix. With that, it's working well so far.


    One minor issue I had is that the required driver for it doesn't appear to be pre-installed on Windows 10, but it downloads from Windows Update. That worked fine on my personal computers, but the work computer uses managed updates and has Windows Update disabled. I do have admin rights on the work computer, though, so I was able to copy the driver over from my personal computer and install it manually.

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