Weiser Premis smart lock review

With so many smart gadgets already in my home like connected lights, a Wi-Fi vacuum, and a smart space heater, adding a smart lock seems to make sense. Yes, security concerns have kept a lot of folks from investing in this technology, but I’ve got to believe that major manufacturers have this figured out. With strong confidence I installed the Weiser Premis digital smart lock with touch screen on my front door for testing and review.

What can Weiser Premis smart lock do?

Continue reading “Weiser Premis smart lock review”

Smart padlocks mean lost keys, forgotten combos are a thing of the past

img_0885-1I was late for a bike ride, and tearing apart my closet and a cabinet looking for the key to my bike lock. Since it was nowhere to be found, I was forced to buy a new lock, only to find the key in a pocket weeks later.

Fussing with lost keys or forgotten combinations for padlocks is frustrating and as you see it can also cost you money. That’s why I was glad to try out a new solution: a smart padlock that can open with a tap on your smartphone screen. I was sent two versions of smart locks called Locksmart by Dog and Bone.

Set Up of Dog & Bone Locksmart locks

Set up couldn’t have been faster. In literally about one minute and three clicks on the smart phone I had both locks set up and ready to use. The Locksmart locks pair very easily with the phone, in my case the iPhone 6 Plus, and I had absolutely no bugs getting the system set up. Children and seniors would have no difficulty getting these high-tech devices going either; they’re made for real people, not just tech junkies.

Two different sizes: Locksmart and Locksmart Mini

img_1046
Locksmart Mini.

There are two different sizes of Locksmart locks. The first is a much larger and heavier round padlock known simply as the Locksmart. This one is obviously designed for more security and durability and would probably be best used on a gate, shed, or door.

The other lock is slightly smaller and lighter, and it’s covered in a full silicone wrap. This one is dubbed Locksmart Mini. I feel like this lock would be better used on things like school lockers, cabinets, or even luggage in a pinch.

How Locksmart locks work

Since pretty much everyone in the world knows how a padlock operates, I’ll focus on the features that make these locks different. With no dials, and no keyholes to speak of, the only way to operate these locks is via your smart phone.

Once you have the Locksmart app downloaded you simply pair the lock to your phone and then each lock  will appear in a list inside the app.

When you want to unlock your lock, you just tap the unlock button on the screen. The lock will snap open instantly.

Add an extra layer of security to the app

If you want to add a layer of security, in case your phone should fall into the wrong hands, you can adjust the opening settings so that you will need to use your fingerprint (if this feature is available on your smart phone or tablet) to open the lock. Similarly, you can set a numerical pass code that must be entered on the phone before the lock can be opened.
This would be handy not only if your phone is lost or stolen, but if you want to keep children who may have access to your phone from being able to open certain locks.

If you haven’t been connected to the lock in a while, or your phone has been too far out of range, or you have the power save feature enabled in-app, the lock may ask to be re-connected to your phone. This is done simply by pushing a small rubber button in the bottom of the lock. This has happeneddog and bone to me a few times, but the re-connection happens in about one second, so there’s no delay, and no fussing.

Instantly the app will tell you the lock is connected and the lock will pop open when you order it to. To lock it, simply snap the shank or shackle back into place.

Share access to visitors or repair people, or revoke it

Perhaps your lawn care guy has just arrived and needs access to your shed. You’re not home and neither are your keys, but that’s no problem, because from directly with in the app, you can grant access to anyone you want instantly. You can also revoke that access at any time.

The lock smart system will also keep track of who accessed each lock and when, so you can keep tabs on items you are trying to keep secure.

img_1051Winter-Ready: Works to -20

One of the main questions I had about these locks were whether they could handle our Canadian weather. Dog & Bone says these locks are good up to about -20°C. The locks are also weatherproof and can withstand rain, hail, snow, or heat up to 70°C.

Unlike another Bluetooth smart padlock I’ve tried out, these locks have notched shanks, allowing them to click shut with conviction. Some other bluetooth padlocks have smooth shanks that make me wonder if they’d be very easy to pry open. But not the Locksmart line; they don’t budge until given the digital command.

Batteries are rechargeable

You shouldn’t find yourself  recharging these padlocks very frequently. Powered with a lithium ion battery, Dog & Bone says a single charge will get you about two years of use, which equals about 3,000 opens before you will need to recharge it. The batteries are easily recharged via a micro USB plug in the bottom of the lock. A small battery indicator within the app give you ample warning when you need to think about re-charging.

The verdict: Locksmart by Dog & Bone

I loved these locks. They’re very convenient, extraordinarily easy to use and set up, and even when they go into Powersave mode and disconnect from your Bluetooth, they can reconnect in an instant.

Sharing access with others couldn’t be easier, so you’re never going to have to turn away a tradesperson, or neighbor needing to borrow some tools.

I have already transitioned to using these locks on our front and back gates, because they’re so easy and durable. I’d definitely recommend these to anyone needing a padlock.

Locksmart Locks are available through Dog & Bone’s website. Locksmart (large) is $89USD and Locksmart Mini is $69USD.

img_0910

Some COOL gadgets & things at CES

img_8990Expect an array of COOL gadgets to fill your feeds this week! It’s CES week;  the annual Consumer Electronics Show. (Read what it is and why it’s a big deal here).

I’m in Las Vegas covering the show, and already there are some amazing gadgets I’ll be seeking out because they’re unique and unusual.  Here’s a preview.

Oree Stylograph: ‘Magic’ Pen & Paper

This has to be one of the coolest things I’ve seen recently. I tried to get a sample to show on TV, but CES is crazy busy  (and so is Oree) and I wasn’t able to show it off on CTV.  Oree Stylograph takes your drawings, doodles and notes from a special notebook and pen combo, and automagically transfers them to your smart device.

Orée Stylograph from Orée on Vimeo.

BlueSmart Luggage: Connected carry-on luggage

bluesmartThis luggage will not only charge up your phone and any other connected device, but if your bag goes missing, Bluesmart combines GPS and 3G technology to track your suitcase anywhere in the world.It also boasts a secure (and TSA approved) digital lock to keep your stuff safe. Toss in the built-in scale and special easy-access laptop compartment and this bag is business traveller’s dream.

Mars Speaker by Crazybaby: a Levitating Speaker

Want to impress your friends, or just stare into something soothing? This levitating speaker will give you audio amplification, plus it’s an amazing showpiece.

Never Worry About Forgotten Keys Again: Dog and Bone Smart Padlock

dog and bone

I think smart padlocks are brilliant.  The new Dog and Bone lock is made of secure steel, you open open it using your smart device. You can track who uses the lock each time it’s opened,  you can grant others (gardener, nanny) access too, either one time, regular times and days or all-access. You can even open the lock by granting digital access to someone from across the world.

Ampware Crank Case: Make Your Own Power

ampware caseA generator built into this phone case lets you crank up one amp of power. What does that mean?  About 5 minutes of cranking gives you about an hour of charge; more if you want to kick into standby mode. The case also provides protection against drops. This case would be excellent for outdoors types, who might spend a full day away from a power outlet (gasp!).

I’ll be posting more updates with really cool things from January 6-9 so check back to see what’s new! Follow my CES posts too on Twitter and Instagram, both are @ErinLYYC

No key? No problem! Digital padlock opens via your phone

IMG_9112Who hasn’t momentarily forgotten their combination on a padlock at the gym, the back gate, or on the shed? I’ve misplaced (or outright lost, forever) the key to the padlock on my bike, meaning I need to both buy a new one, and find some bolt cutters to take care of business.

Now, a new product out from Fuz Designs (they made the really cool felted case I featured on CTV Morning Live and the blog not long ago!) shows that you no longer need those keys, or your faulty memory to open a padlock! Check out the 3 minute video of how Noke Digital Lock works: either with your smartphone or a Morse Code-like series of long and short clicks.

If you’re looking for other neat security gadgets, check out the uber-easy MyFox camera, or the Gatekeeper key fob that makes unlocking your computer with a typed password obsolete!

 

Okidokeys Smart Lock: Great idea that needs some work – Update: Okidokeys responds to review

okidokeys lock** I originally posted this review July 10.  On July 14 Okidokeys posted a comment below regarding this review.  It was quite surprising, because for one they called a Tweet I sent “inflammatory”, and for another they imply the facts of this review are not accurate, and in essence that I lied. I’ll respond to their comments at the bottom of this page.   **

I love the idea of a smart lock.  In my head I envision approaching the door, laden with groceries and bags, only to have the door unlock audibly and allow me to slip in without dropping everything and fishing for keys.

That’s what I’d been hoping for when the Okidokeys Smart Lock arrived on my doorstep.  But, much to my disappointment, that wasn’t quite what I got.

The Okidokeys kit looks simple enough, and the instructions seemed straightforward.  It comes with the automatic lock mechanism, 3 different colours of back cover, batteries, (4 AAs) and the tools needed to install it. The instructions says to just remove the back of the deadbolt from your door, leaving the rest of the locking hardware in place, slip the Okidokeys motorized locking system over top, screw it in, and voila! Except that’s not at all what happened.

(Bear with me.  I’m going to give some detailed info here about the problems I encountered, in the event my troubles can help others.  If you’re looking for the straight up ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’, go ahead and skip to the bottom)

Installing Okidokeys Smart Lock

Replacing the back of the lock with a new plate.
Replacing the back of the lock with a new plate.

While all you need is a screwdriver to do the installation, and it doesn’t mark or ruin your door, Okidokeys did not fit over top of my existing lock. Some adapters are included with the kit, but none of them seemed to fit right.  No matter which I used, the lock would not sit flush with the door.  Finally I realized the correct adapter was included with the package, but it did not fit properly on our lock; the deadbolt post was just too long. When I called customer service for assistance, I got a rather surly woman, who finally told me the only way around this was to buy a new deadbolt, or to try to file the lock bolt mechanism down so the Okidokeys lock would fit over top of it.

Not wanting to go out and buy another lock just so this new lock would work, I eventually located a file and spent a good amount of time grinding down the post.  It was a lot of work, extending the installation by a good hour.

Once the installation was done I downloaded the app for iPhone 6. Except then I found out you can’t download the app and sign up for an account on your phone.  For that you need a computer.

Once the account was set up on the laptop, I signed into the app using my newly created account, and nothing happened.  while the app loaded, there appeared to be no way to actually tell the app which deadbolt I had. Plus, when I manually engaged the lock, it made a horrible loud grinding sound. After another frustrating 45 minutes trying to sort that out, trying to get the deadbolt to connect to the phone, I put the whole thing away for the night to resume in the morning.

Was It a Dud?

Turns out the next day it was no easier. I went through all of the set up again but had no luck getting anything working. I finally decided to call the Okidokeys support line again. The customer service rep could not seem to figure out what the problem was and said she did not know what was going on, and I was kind of left hanging.  What was I supposed to do with a non-functional lock, and someone who was out of ideas to help me?

I asked to speak to a supervisor or someone with more detailed tech-support background to help me, as I felt that “I don’t know” was not an adequate customer service response. Instead, the CSR asked me to email her a still photo of the lock, to prove it was mounted flush against the door. I declined, because it was flush, and because I was getting annoyed at the non-functionality of the unit. In the end I left a message for a supervisor to call me back at the first available opportunity. In the meantime, I uploaded a video to Twitter of my problem, and hoped someone would be able to help me. Turns out Okidokeys is monitoring their Twitter account rather well (kudos), and within an hour they had called me back to say they had seen my video, and thanks to that they could tell the lock itself was malfunctioning. They offered to send me a new one right away.

Meantime, I decided to get my account set up and ready for when the new lock arrived.
Once signed in to the company webpage on a desktop computer I was able to get logged in and get started. I finally figured out you need to put in the serial number of the lock on the computer (not your phone, again). One small frustration with this is that I went through the process of entering the serial number, door name, door time zone, and a picture to apply to it, but I chose not to select the optional “door group name”, and when I went to click “next”, it gave me an error message for not picking a door group name, and it had reset half of the settings. Annoying since I had to go through and re-set up the lock all over again.  Once that was done I was able to start assigning people to use the door. That process is fairly straightforward you can give certain users a key tag, wristband, or plastic credit card style key, and then you can then assign certain hours of the day they will be able to swipe their ‘key’ to open your door.

The separate Smart Reader and additional keys.
The separate Smart Reader and additional keys.

Setting up the smart keys, like the included key tag, the credit card key, and the wristband, was easy, thankfully. You simply go to the drop-down menu on the website for smart devices, register smart tag using the  serial number that is very clearly printed on the smart tags, and you’re good to go. Then it’s as easy as creating new user profiles, and assigning those people whichever keys you want them to have.

Try, try again

When the new lock finally arrived about a week later, I was already very similar with how to install it, so it went quickly. When I did the self test, everything worked smoothly and the lock was able to turn on it’s own quite easily with no grinding, although the lock is quite loud. Then I decided to try locking the door with the app. The app told me that I first needed to ‘sync’ the door to the app.

Locking Not So Easy

IMG_2551Trying to get the lock to sync took about six attempts, before it randomly worked. Then I tried locking again, but kept getting an error message that I was not standing near enough the door, when I was probably about a foot and a half away from it. Then I tried to manually lock and unlock the door using the buttons on the back of the door lock. That didn’t work either, although I got a helpful looking blue light each time I tried.

I decided to close out of the app and restart it in hopes this would jazz things up a bit. Only then to my frustration I realized I needed to log in again. But when I tried to do that I kept getting an error message saying my login credentials were invalid. At this point, admittedly I was ready to throw the damn lock out the window. To me, a product should not be this hard or this frustrating to set up.

Buggy & Frustrating App

Fortunately, after another attempt at logging in I got back into my account. This time when I went to lock the door using the app it worked! Hallelujah! But my joy was short-lived. The next time I tried to lock the door, I got an ‘operation timeout failure’. I decided to do an experiment and standing next to the door I tried to lock the door or unlock it ten times from a couple distances. The lock only responded four out of those ten times. This is an enormous frustration. No one has time to stand around in front of the door holding loaded bags of groceries waiting for three or four attempts at unlocking the door before it listens.

26 seconds to open

It’s also worth mentioning that the lock, when it actually functions, takes a long time to engage and open.  I timed it, and on one occasion when trying to unlock the door it took about 26 seconds before the lock would finally respond. Again, I could have unlocked the door in about two seconds flat with the old fashioned key in that time.IMG_2554

At this point I was pretty much done with this device. But I decided to give customer service a call one more time to see if perhaps there was something strange going on they could easily remedy. Alas, it was Saturday, and Okidokeys voicemail hopefully told me that their customer service office closes at 2 PM MT on Saturdays. Great.

Later on, feeling optimistic, I decided to try to use the app to lock my door when I left. When I went to load up the app, it wanted me to login from scratch again. Uggghhhh!
I gave up.
Turn On Automatic Login, for gosh sakes!

Another constant frustration was the fact that I needed to input the username or email and password to access the app every time I tried to use it. Making that even more frustrating, is despite entering the username and password correctly at least half a dozen times, I kept getting an error message saying that the ‘user is invalid’. When I left the phone to sit for a few minutes, and tried again by simply hitting ‘enter’ on the information I had already put in, for some reason it would randomly allow me access. Very frustrating. Eventually I figured out that by turning on “automatic logins” in the settings menu in the app, I could forgo logging in every single time I wanted to use it.
Also, in what almost seems like too much security, every time I logged into the Okidokeys webpage on the computer to access my account, it emailed me a security code that I had to input before I was able to login. More steps, more frustration.

smart-lockokidokeysNo remote access

Another thing I found frustrating about this lock set was that there’s no way for me to open the door from a remote location. It would be so handy if I could let the cleaning lady, neighbour, or even a key-forgetting spouse in from my smartphone kilometers away in my office, but that’s not an option.  To let someone else in if I’m not at home (and have not given them a key previously), they’d need to download the app, and I’d have to email them access permission.  But since getting the account working in the first place was such a hassle for me I was not comfortable foisting it on someone else. It would be great if I could just press a button on my phone from far away, and the lock would open for whoever I needed to let in.  But alas.. no.  Okidokeys also says it has a Hands-free Mode where it will unlock your door when your cell phone gets close to it, but (noticing a pattern?) I couldn’t get that to work either.

The Verdict

The Okidokeys Smart Lock was not easy to use.  In my experience it was buggy and unreliable, and took far too long to perform the simple task of unlocking the door. I’m not going to fault the first lock for being a dud, but I also didn’t have great experience with Okidokeys customer service folks on their phone help line.

Having tried some products like the Ring Video Doorbell recently, or the Nest Learning Thermostat which worked perfectly from the moment the box was opened (and reliably from then on), this product appears not quite ready for use by an average customer. It’s just too frustrating.  I’ll be interested in seeing further software updates, but until then, it’s back to using my key.

UPDATE:

I recently wrote the above review of the Okidokeys Smart Lock. It was not flattering, but it was fair, and I stand by it.  Since then, I received a comment on the blog from ‘Okidokeys Team’.  I was rather surprised at the content.  For one it implies I lied in my story; that when I say I spoke to two different customer service reps by phone, that I did not, since the company claims to have no record of this.

Secondly Okidokeys Team calls my Tweets about the installation problems I had “inflammatory”.

Here’s the blog comment :

Dear Erin,
We regret your experience. However we believe it is important to point out that according to our records you did not reach out to us for support, we found your inflammatory twitter post of 2-3 months ago and proactively reached out to you.
According to your responses, we solved your issues as we shipped additional adapters at no charge which are now part of our standard package.
Also, as your test dates back to 2-3 months, we precise we have had a completely new version of handsfree mode with geo fencing available for 3 weeks now.
Best Regards,
OKIDOKEYS Teamokidokeys tweets

Here are the facts:  I keep notes on my calls and dealings with any customer service departments I encounter during each review, and make notes too, as I work on installation and setup as I’m testing products.

I called Okidokeys twice, and my description of each interaction above is factual, and accurately reported. Why they don’t have a record of it I can’t say. I’m also not sure why they indicate they sent me ‘adapters’, when what they sent me was a whole new unit.  Perhaps these ‘records’ are not quite as accurate as they think? As for my “inflammatory” tweet, well, you can see for yourself what I said, and even the follow up kudos I gave.

I find it offensive that instead of addressing the problems with the product’s operation and non-functionality in their blog comment, the customer service response to me was to call my credibility into question, and dub my factual tweet “inflamatory”.

I deliberately don’t read other reviews before I test products, so as not to colour my judgement. However since receiving the comment, a simple Google search showed me other reviewers having the same problems I encountered, to varying degrees of frustration.  While it would have been nice to be able to post an update with the fixes and updates Okidokeys has done, instead I must respond to their other comments.