The smart lock sounds like a hard sell to many consumers. The traditional lock does the job perfectly well, keys are cheap to replicate for family members, and they don’t require battery power to open.
Putting your faith in a smart lock when all your valuables could be on the wrong side of a series of unfortunate events may be a bit of a stretch for some.
However, Kwikset is putting its faith in there being enough smart home owners willing to trust their security to a digital lock, with the advantages that it offers.
Not only is there the kudos to be gained by rushing visitors in with a mere touch and that friendly blue and green glow from the lock, but the Kevo really can save time and a tiny amount of effort each day.
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Key Features of the Kwikset Kevo
The Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock and Deadbolt kit comes with a lock, powered by four AA batteries, a smart fob, two physical keys, two eKeys and a free app that is compatible with iOS and some Android 5.0 devices, requiring Bluetooth 4.0.
Once installed, the Smart Lock only needs to be touched by someone with that smart fob or a smartphone with a registered eKey to allow access. There’s no messing about with finding the phone or fob, just touch and go.
Installation is as simple as replacing your existing lock and setting up the eKeys via the app. Once that’s done, family members can come and go as they please. There are three color options to choose from including Satin Nickel, Brass and Bronze to provide a stylish match to most doors.
One final note, the Kevo can link to your Nest thermostat to let it know when people are coming and going, which is a neat touch. The Kevo comes with a lifetime mechanical warranty, and a one-year electronic warranty, although we’d like to see two or three years for any smart home product.
Pros of the Kwikset Kevo
Smart technology: The advantages of your new glowing door lock are that the digital eKey fobs can’t be copied without the owner’s permission, so no one can duplicate a key to gain access to your property.
The Kevo calibration routine will also figure out if you’re inside the house, in which case someone touching the lock can’t just randomly gain entry, because you happen to be near the other side of the door, or you leave your keys in a bowl by the door once home.
Access logging: The owner can also see who’s been coming and going via the app, as each eKey can be assigned to a person, and the owner can be set to allow or deny entry at particular times. Ideal if you have guests staying, or regular visitors like a cleaner who you consider worthy of access.
Saving time and hassle: On the practical side, using Bluetooth, that smartphone or fob can stay in your pocket or purse, speeding your entry home on those cold or wet nights.
Or those times when you’ve got handfuls of luggage or shopping, or simply can’t remember where your phone or fob is on your person.
Depending on the individual, we suspect that most people are less likely to lose their smartphone than they are their keys, which could also be another benefit.
Finally, while the Kevo looks pretty much like any lock, its smart design gives it a certain cool when in use. Touch the device and a blue ring appears, while it scans for your fob or phone. When detected, it turns green to allow access. Purple is reserved for when it can’t detect a phone or fob.
Cons of the Kwikset Kevo
Playing to the smart set: The Kwikset Kevo definitely isn’t for everyone, for a start you need a recent Apple or Android smartphone to get it running, which might put off some buyers.
Also, the cost at around $195 is way over that of a replacement traditional lock, and while there’s some clever technology in there, buyers will want a good lock first and foremost.
Not tough enough: And that’s where the Kevo has come in for some criticism, with owners suggesting that the lock isn’t particularly tough. It can have all the technology in the world, but if a burly criminal can force it in seconds, then its value is suddenly looking less worthwhile.
A complex system: There are also reports of issues with troublesome installation, calibration with smartphones, firmware upgrades, response from the phone becoming slower over time, delaying access.
All of these issues can be resolved via Kwikset’s technical support, which most agree is very good, but if it is pouring with rain and you or a family member is locked out, that’s going to be one uncomfortable support call.
Battery power(less): None of these issues would happen with a basic lock, and there’s also no need to change the batteries on one every year. Also, the lock can’t alert the user is there is an attempt at unauthorized or forced entry, which seems to defeat the purpose of a smart device.
Finally, there’s the small matter of in-app purchases for extra eKeys at $1.99 per key. This isn’t a mobile game, we’re not playing Angry Birds here, and we all know the extra cost of a few packets of data is exactly zero.
Final Recommendation -Is it Worth It
With so many small issues, it seems hard to recommend the Kwikset, despite the company’s positive approach to dealing with the problems listed above.
The deal breakers are a not-very secure deadbolt, too many variables in setup and use, and the limited number of devices it will work with.
Does Kwikset think only cutting edge smart home owners will buy their product? That seems to be cutting out rather a large section of the buying public. For reference, the Kevo is compatible with the iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6, 6+, 3rd Gen+ iPad/iPad mini, 5th Gen iPod Touch, recent
Samsung Galaxy and Nexus devices, plus the HTC One M9, thus discounting about 1,000 other Android devices and who knows how many tens of millions of users.
If your phone and fob’s battery does happen to die, then you can use one of the provided master physical keys, but at that point, you’re just like any other key holder. Basically, you might as well not have bothered.
We’re sure there are many satisfied customers out there, with the Kevo safely in place and working like a dream, but with a less than guaranteed chance of everything working out of the box, you may want to wait until the company comes up with a second-generation model, or that price comes down to make it worth the risk.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!