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A Marginal Annoyance Improvement: Kensington VeriMark Desktop Fingerprint Key

In January, I felt the sudden urge to buy a fingerprint sensor. I have a habit of locking my desktop each time I get up, and retyping my password ten times daily was getting annoying. More than that, though, leaving the computer unattended for more than ten minutes locks the password manager. That’s probably drop-down menu away from being fixed, but a fingerprint sensor seemed cool.

Naturally, my purchase research began with an Amazon search for “fingerprint reader”. Among the seemingly random off-brands was one I recognized: Kensington. They make the Kensington lock (which I’ve found intriguing for years since I started noticing it and its logo on things)! In addition to reading fingerprints, it’s also a FIDO key, which is nice (more on that later).

Reviews on Amazon were fine, but they were hard to find on YouTube, Reddit, or separate sites. Lazy Tech TV’s video overview was helpful, though, and we have the same microphone (including the finish)!

The setup was plug-and-play on Windows 11. You, of course, have to navigate to Windows Hello in settings, and setup your fingerprint.

I don’t need it – I could take the extra few seconds to type in my password (or PIN?) each time. But between not having to do that, and using Hello to bypass my password manager’s re-authentication, it makes using the computer significantly more enjoyable. The logo glows white when the computer prompts for a scan, and quickly flashes red for misreads or unmatched prints. Also, my desktop is set to sleep the display pretty rapidly when it’s locked, and just tapping on the fingerprint sensor to wake it up, bypassing the login screen, is satisfying.

The sensor almost always works, and quickly – in contrast to my laptop, whose sensor is quite finicky. The only real problem I’ve experienced is having to un- and re-plug the sensor, but very rarely; this could be a machine- or configuration-specific problem.

I stocked up on YubiKeys late last year (Cloudflare ran an excellent promotion), but a location-fixed one is nice to have. It works on most sites that accept FIDO keys (I had problems with sites that require a PIN when using the key), and requires – like all(?) FIDO2-compliant devices – you touch it when signing in (though it checks touch only, not fingerprint).

Small quality of life improvements in everyday tedium are nice, and this is an example of just such an improvement.

I haven’t been writing lately. I would use exam season as an excuse, but that hasn’t had much of an impact on my free time. I have some ideas! More soon… maybe. :)