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Lockly Vision review: A smart lock and a video doorbell in one well-made device

Lockly Vision review: A smart lock and a video doorbell in one well-made device

The concept is pretty genius. Take a beefy smart lock and a video doorbell and mash them both into a single unit. It’s one-stop security shopping for the exterior of your smart home, letting you not only see who comes and goes, but giving you the power to open the door for them, too. While products like Amazon Key let you cobble together a solution like this from a collection of disparate products, the Lockly Vision marks the first time it’s been integrated into a single device.

Camera aside, Lockly Vision is functionally similar in design to Lockly’s other deadbolts, such as the Lockly Secure Pro, giving you myriad ways to open the lock. A dynamic, ever-changing touchpad lets you tap in a PIN, and a fingerprint reader rides along the side of the unit. A standard keyhole lets you go old school, and of course you can use the Lockly app to open the door as well. Lockly counts voice automation as a fifth way to operate the lock, but that requires Alexa or Google Assistant to work (Apple HomeKit support is in the works).

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart locks, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.

None of these features are new to the Lockly ecosystem, and they work in a near-identical fashion to its other locks. The app can be used to add a variety of user types, including permanent, time-limited, and one-time-use varieties. Unlocking codes can be added for online use (whereby PINs are shared via email or text and associated with a specific contact on your phone), or offline use (where you communicate the PIN via other means). Fingerprints are easily enrolled via the app as well. The system can store up to 50 offline access codes and 99 fingerprints; curiously, however, it has room for just 16 online codes.

lockly vision exploded view Lockly

If you’re looking for a svelte, design-forward security solution for your front door, you can probably cross the Lockly Vision off your list.

Other features extend the security of the unit considerably in comparison to most other smart locks. The external keypad can be completely disabled by a switch on the interior escutcheon if you want to totally lock out PIN users (say, while you’re sleeping). The rolling “PIN Genie” display system, which moves digits in groups of three randomly around the touchpad, is highly effective at preventing attacks that exploit smudges on the display to suss out your PIN. Even the physical key has security measures embedded in it: If someone so much as touches the magnetic plate that covers the keyhole, a push alert is sent to your phone, warning of potential tampering.

Lockly app Christopher Null / IDG

The Lockly Vision app will automatically record video if it thinks someone is tampering with the lock.

Installation follows a similar process as most other full-replacement smart locks, with two escutcheons connected by some thick screws, wiring, and, for Vision, a bit of sticky tape to hold everything in place. The only major difference here is the inclusion of a second wire that manages the video feed, but getting that connected is simple enough.

A bigger challenge is the sheer size of the lock. Weighing more than 3 pounds—before you install the batteries—it can be tough to wrestle into place (and it’s hardly easy on the eyes). And as you can imagine, powering a lock and a camera requires a lot of energy: You’ll need a eight AA batteries. (Lockly claims a roughly 6-month battery life, but a 9-volt emergency adapter is available on the bottom of the device in case the batteries die while you’re out and about.)

The Lockly’s camera is readily visible in the form of a bulbous lens peeking out from the top of the exterior escutcheon. The camera captures a very wide-angle view, which is necessary in part because it ends up mounted at waist height, where the doorknob is. Video recording isn’t just triggered when someone rings the bell, it also records if someone attempts to use a physical key. The user can set the device to record video under a variety of additional settings, including the use of different types of PINs, but you’ll need to dig into the sometimes-cryptic settings menu to set this up.

lockly screen 2 Christopher Null / IDG

Video recording (and two-way audio) is quick to begin and good-enough in quality.

Alas, Lockly Vision doesn’t really do everything by itself; it has a companion in the form of the Vision Connect Hub, a bridge that must be both plugged into wall power and connected to your wireless router via an ethernet cable. This old-school device has the appearance of a small Wi-Fi bridge, complete with swiveling antenna, which needs to be placed within 50 feet of the lock. All recordings are stored on a microSD card (a 16GB card is included). While the requirement of a wired ethernet connection is inconvenient, it does ensure better stability, and I never ran into any significant trouble with the Lockly Vision throughout my testing. Even better news: There’s no cloud storage or subscription plan required for any of this.

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