Comparing Blockchain domains: ENS domains vs Unstoppable domains vs Handshake domains
Sunntig,01 Mai, 2022

I have recently purchased a blockchain domain for this site Megacool.eth so I thought I would share my experience with the various options to register
a blockchain domain.

This review is based on using the domains and not just buying to resell them like other NFTs.

In my quick review I am comparing ENS domains vs Unstoppable domains vs Handshake domains which are the most popular options.

ENS DOMAINS 🏅🏆

ENS domains allow you to register a .eth domain through their online platform. Like traditional domain names you have to pay a fee per year + the gas fee – essentially a transaction fee for the blockchain. At the time of writing the cost is around 60 US$ for a year and around 100$ for 10 years. The difference is due to the ETH gas fee.

The fees can only be paid in Ethereum by linking your wallet so the registration process is completely anonymous.

At glance the fact that there is a renewal fee can be seen as a big limitations. This said .eth domains offer a number of advantages in terms of usability:

  • You can use your domain.eth to receive ethereum. Thanks to the reverse resolution you won’t need to use your long ethereum address but simply use the domain. This is very useful and supported by most wallets e.g. coinbase wallet, trust wallet but not ledger.
  • If you publish your website using a service like fleek or directly to the IPFS system, you will be able to actually see your domain using brave browser or, any browser, by using yourdomain.eth.link or the distributed sevice yourdomain.eth.limo
  • A domain is essentially an NFT. The default background shown of the domain is very simple and a bit boring but you can also [set an NFT as your ENS profile]https://medium.com/the-ethereum-name-service/step-by-step-guide-to-setting-an-nft-as-your-ens-profile-avatar-3562d39567fc)

A disadvantage is that any domain update is essentially another transaction on the blockchain (e.g. just adding the avatar) which a quiet high gas cost e.g. a simple update to add the avatar was around 20$.

I think that ENS domains are probably the best option in terms of blockchain domains. They offer a number of real world usage (wallet address, supported on brave, supported on fleek etc.) to make it worth it as a domain to use and not just to collect.

UNSTOPPABLE DOMAINS 🥈

Unstoppable domains allow you to register a number of .TLDs like .crypto, .nft. , .x, .coin, .wallet, .bitcoin etc.

The cost depends entirely on the name and the suffix, it seems to be between 20$ and 100$. This is however a one time fee for life so there is no renewal fee which is obviously an advantage. The fees can be paid by credit card too.

Since now Unstoppable domains are stored in the Polygon blockchain and not in Ethereum like .crypto was upon its launch, these domains no longer work with brave browser even if you enable the option to load unstoppable domains. From my tests it seems that only .crypto domains register on the ethereum blockchain are accessible.

The .crypto domains are also supported by some wallets e.g. trust wallet. I coudln’t get this to work on the coinbase wallet.

Being on the polygon blockchain updates to the domain records are free and this is certainly a plus.

My only issues is that these domains are not yet supported by fleek for deployment and major wallets so I am not entirely sure about the utility.

It is also a bit unclear to me on how the company is involved in maintining all these domains: yes the information are stored in the blockchain but can all really work if the company no longer supports this project ?

I would say that these domains could be usuable but double-check before buying.

HANDSHAKE DOMAINS 🥉

Namebase seems to be only place to create your own TLDs using Handshake name which, unlike ENS domains and Unstoppable domains, means owning the whole TLD. So if you register .myfancyname you would own the root zone for .myfancename and could create unlimited domains on that TLD.

This sounds great and compelling. Handshake domains are also supported on Fleek for deployment so this appears to be much better than just owning a .eth or .crypto domain right ?

As always the devil is in the detail:

  • The auction system to create your TLD is very complex and you need to wait at least 2 weeks.
  • In the above very strange auction system (blind bid? reveal? what??) it seems that some people will just try to outbit you last minute
  • These .TLDs cannot be used to identify your crypto address - or if is possible it is well hidden
  • No matter what I couldn’t get the domain to work even using their hns.to/ system.
  • You need to buy these HNS coins to bid. You can exchange only bitcoins for them which is a big limitation
  • Pricing seems to be totally driven by speculation. You can buy a TLD for just 5$ but some sell for crazy amounts

The big reveal is perhaps the fact that these handshake domains require a DNS change or third party software installation to be usable. even if hns.to/ service would work the whole point is to be able to use a domain, or tld even, with a normal browser without installing anything and it is not the case here.

It is quiet possible that there are ways to use them efficiently but simply I couldn’t figure this out. I did manage to buy their HNS coins, bid, even buy a .tld but I feel it was a total waste of time and money as I can’t use it.

The Best ?

All these options have pro and cons but, in my view, the best option for a blockchain domain service is ENS domains.

It is not the cheapest option but the one that offers the most features (wallet, compatible with brave, fully decentralised, works on fleek).

Both Unstoppable Domains and Namebase have interesting options but, mostly because of their limited features, do not match ENS domains.