You’re getting too old to still be losing your keys like this. Seriously, they were right there, in your hand, like a second ago. Time to jimmy the kitchen window again, right? Wrong. The Kwikset Kevo gives you not one but three means of entry, so you’ll never get locked out again.
What Is It?
It’s a smart deadbolt that can be activated via an electronic key fob, an “eKey” generated by the Kevo mobile app, or a regular old “key” key.
Why Does It Matter?
Though they’re designed to make our lives easier, many smart home devices require a level of tech sophistication that escapes most homeowners. The difficulty of learning and adapting to new methods is enough disincentive to even bother trying.
But the Kevo provides an unparalleled degree of flexibility in its functionality, allowing users to ease into the Internet of Things and try out new technologies like eKeys and Bluetooth fobs while still having the tried and true physical system that they’re accustomed to. The lock is only as smart as you want it to be, not the other way around.
It’s a traditional deadbolt in a really fancy housing. The outer half features a touch-sensitive ring surrounding the keyhole that works with the fob to unlock the door with a touch. The inner half contains the electronic guts, brain, and power supply. The bolt mechanism itself sits between them.
You’d better be rated Bob Villa-class or higher with a power drill to install this thing on a new, uncut door. But if you’re simply swapping a similarly sized analogue bolt assembly, the procedure is pretty straightforward and the included instructions are very detailed. Once you’ve actually got the unit installed, the fob calibration/e-key generation process takes maybe 10 minutes.
Once you’re up and running, the fob method is really slick; you just drop it in your bag or clip it onto a belt loop and forget about it. So long as the fob is within range of the lock — about 60-120cm — you just have to touch the keyhole ring and the door will open. No more rummaging through your bag.
The e-key method is similarly easy, and in some ways better because it translates into one less thing you’ll have to carry. The app-based entry method uses the Kevo App (currently only available for iOS, sigh) to generate an e-key, a digital certificate that’s transmitted to the lock and verifies your right to enter. What’s more, you can also generate and share temporary e-keys with friends and family. These guest passes allows secondary users access, but on a restricted basis.
The regular key method is, well, a key. You know how this works. But what’s really cool about the Kevo is that you can easily re-key the cylinder by yourself without disassembling the lock. It’s a way to change the lock without having to switch in a whole new apparatus, and means that you can use your existing keyset right away.
The days of digging for my keys are over. So long as I have either the fob or my phone on me, doesn’t matter if it’s in my hand or at the bottom of my bag, getting through that door is as easy as twisting the knob. What used to take close to 20 seconds now takes less than 3. Plus, the mobile app runs in the background so you won’t have to boot the program every time you walk through the door.
That’s not to say the Kevo is any less secure than a traditional deadbolt. Its cylinder is both bump-proof and pick resistant; its signals are protected by military grade PKI encryption; the system can even tell whether you are inside your house or out, preventing would-be intruders from opening the door after you’ve entered — even if the fob or phone is still in range.
$220 is a lot to ask for a deadbolt, no matter how functional or convenient it is. Also, the lack of Android support makes it significantly less useful for a whole lot of potential buyers, who’ll have to stick with the fob or key.
It’s also really annoying to order for Australians. It’s only really sold at three home improvement stores in the US. You can buy online with Home Depot and ship it here with a third-party shipping service, but that just ups the cost even higher. You really gotta want that smart lock before you order.
Should You Buy It?
While the steep price is definitely a turnoff, the promise of a future where you won’t have to recite the keys-phone-wallet mantra when you leave or pat yourself down to find the key ring when you return makes the Kevo worth a shot, especially if you’ve got iOS and a decent bankroll.