Lockly Secure Pro Review: This pricey biometric smart lock joins the Wi-Fi club
I reviewed the Lockly Secure Plus smart lock late last year. It integrated a fingerprint reader into its hardware, ostensibly providing a dramatic upgrade to the security level of the system. One thing was missing from the package: Any kind of significant “smart” features that let you tie the Lockly system into the rest of your home. (The lock only supports Bluetooth out of the box.) Recently, Lockly addressed that issue by introducing the Lockly Secure Pro, which adds a Wi-Fi bridge to the system, enabling a few additional capabilities.
Sounds like a plan, but first, some semantics. Notably, the Lockly Secure Pro is not actually a new product of its own. Rather, it is a bundle of the existing Lockly Secure Plus hardware along with the new Lockly Secure Link WiFi Hub, which connects the lock to your Wi-Fi network. If you already have a Lockly Secure Plus lock, you can buy the Secure Link WiFi Hub separately for $80, instead of shelling out $300 (or $330 the Latch model that replaces your entry handset) for the bundle. Buying either lock and the hub as a bundle will save you $30 compared to buying the components separately. Since I still had the lock on hand from my previous review, Lockly sent just the WiFi Hub for this story; I tested it with the same Secure Plus hardware I reviewed previously.
The good news is that setting up the Secure Link WiFi Hub is considerably simpler than setting up the lock hardware. In fact, it’s downright easy, thanks to clear enough instructions both within the Lockly app and in the full-color, printed manual. The hub consists of two pieces: A small USB device about the size of a thumb drive, plus a standard USB wall wart. To connect, simply put these two items together and plug the combo into an AC outlet. Note that the plug must be within 10 feet of the lock, however, which could be a problem for homes that don’t have outlets near their door.
After a quick firmware upgrade to the lock, the two devices were ready to pair, and they then easily connected to my home Wi-Fi network. I had no trouble with any of this, and within a few minutes my Lockly system was live on Wi-Fi.
A standard magnetic door sensor is also included in this kit. After installing it on the door, you pair it with the Lockly app, which then lets the app do double duty, informing you whether the door is open or closed as well as whether it’s locked or unlocked.
With all of this set up, well, now what do you do with it? The primary function of the Secure Link WiFi Hub is that it gives you go-anywhere access to the lock, instead of being limited to Bluetooth range. If the kids are locked out and have forgotten their key, access code, or just can’t get their mittens off to use the fingerprint reader, you can open the door for them remotely. You also have access to a real-time status of the door and the lock; in other words, it does exactly what any “smart” lock ought to be do right out of the box.
Interestingly, once the hub is installed, the app adds a new toggle switch to the upper left corner that lets you switch between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth access to the lock. Now if your Wi-Fi network goes down or there’s a blackout, you can still use your phone to open the lock (locally, that is, and provided the lock has sufficient battery). The onboard Bluetooth radio relies on the lock’s battery to operate, unlike your Wi-Fi router and broadband gateway (unless you have those devices plugged into an uninterruptible power supply, that is).
The addition of Wi-Fi connectivity also lets you connect Lockly to Alexa and Google Assistant. Once I installed the skill, I was able to use Alexa to tell me the status of the lock and to unlock it via voice. (Note that Alexa voice-unlock is disabled by default for security reasons. To enable it, you’ll need to create a four-digit PIN that you’ll recite to open the deadbolt.
The bad news should be obvious if you’ve read my earlier coverage of the Lockly Secure Plus: This deadbolt is still a bear to deal with from a physical standpoint. The installation process hasn’t changed, obviously, and mounting it to the door remains challenging due to the requirement of carefully placing a peculiar metal bar between to connect the interior and exterior escutcheons. I’ve installed this hardware before and could feel my stomach sinking when I took it out of the box again to write this review. Had I been in charge of this product, I would have redesigned all of that before I bothered adding Wi-Fi to the mix.
On the plus side, Lockly has done some upgrading and massaging of its app in the last nine months, and though it’s still filled with poor language translation issues, it’s at least now marginally easier to add new regular users and create temporary PINs “Offline code” users, however, remain tasked with remembering an 8-digit code during their stay, along with following some complicated instructions the first time they access the door. At least now when you text a new code to someone, Lockly’s revamped image and instructions makes it easier to see the instructions and the code without a lot of needless scrolling.
Ultimately, while Lockly’s security is excellent and the addition of Wi-Fi features is a plus, Lockly remains tough to unreservedly recommend simply because it is so difficult to install And adding another $50 to the price of the kit makes it much more expensive than almost anything else on the market. I’m not overly thrilled about the WiFi Hub hardware design either, both from a cosmetic standpoint and out of fear that it might be too easy to knock out of the socket (or that someone would try to use it to charge their phone).
On the other hand, if you find this lock’s biometric features appealing, it’s still the best solution out there. That could make the Lockly Pro worth the high price tag and the setup headaches.
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August 14, 2019 at 04:11AM