A few weeks ago, I lamented the lack of mainstream Windows Hello-compatible hardware peripherals. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any out there, and if you don’t mind going with an off-brand, you can inexpensive and easily add Windows Hello capabilities to your PC.
This is useful for those who upgrade a Windows 7/8.1-based PC to Windows 10, of course, since those older PCs won’t typically include any Windows Hello-compatible hardware. (There are some exceptions: For example, some older fingerprint readers work fine with Windows Hello.) But it’s also useful for new hardware—like the HP Spectre x360 and Intel NUC I tested—that likewise doesn’t ship with Windows Hello capabilities.
After fielding a number of suggestions from readers, I grabbed a Eikon Mini Fingerprint Reader from Amazon.com. It costs $25 and couldn’t be easier to use: It’s your basic USB nubbin and requires no drivers. Just plug it in and it works: Once the device is plugged in, a Windows Hello entry will appear in Settings, Accounts, so you can get started.
Windows Hello is easy to configure from this interface: As I previously described in Hands-On with Windows Hello, you just need to step through a simple wizard to get it working.
Even on this cheap device, authentication is fast and accurate, though the positioning of the USB ports on the front of the NUC made swiping (from left to right in this case) a bit awkward.
But it’s really designed for laptops, where the positioning of the USB ports on the side of the device makes swiping, from back to front, more natural.
There are two small issues with the Eikon Mini Fingerprint Reader.
First, its size means it could partially cover another USB (or other) port. On the NUC, seen here, this isn’t an issue, though it’s a tight fit. But on the Spectre, I had to move the nubbin to the left side of the laptop, where there’s only a single USB port; the right side, the two USB ports are a bit too close together.
Second, this kind of a dongle isn’t necessarily great for a laptop you’ll be carting around, since it sticks out on the side of the device. I haven’t traveled with it yet, but I will, so I’ll just need to remember to keep the nubbin side up in my bag.
So yes, an integrated reader would be better. But if your device doesn’t have such a thing, you can’t beat the price, and it’s well worth it for the convenience of using Windows Hello.