Have you ever felt a desperate need to be in complete control of the world around you? A power hungry technological overlord with your smartphone manipulating your everyday life? Welcome to the world of smart locks! This piece will be the first of a mini series on smart locks here at EFTM – we’ll discuss different types of locks from traditional to key safes and the different methods you can utilize to control these wonders of the modern age.
The first two locks we’ll take a look at are by Australian company Dog & Bone. They’re known by the masses for their sturdy and reliable phone cases – but they also have a bluetooth padlock range by the name of LockSmart.
Back in 2015, The Dog & Bone LockSmart original product won the EFTM Best Gadget award, but with a few new products out, we thought we’d take a look at how the range fairs in 2018.
The series contains three locks, the LockSmart, LockSmart Mini and LockSmart Travel. I went hands on with the Mini and the Travel to really get a feel for what daily life with a bluetooth padlock feels like. I’ll summarize the pros and cons before discussing the differences of the two as the core functionality (and core flaws) are the same.
The usage of the lock is rather simple, when in bluetooth range – open the Dog & Bone app on your phone and either tap to unlock, or enter the passcode you set (Note: some phones also support fingerprint unlocking). Gone is the age of the physical key. The inter-connectivity allows you to control all of your locks with just your phone, leave the bulky key ring in 2017. And while that sure is a groovy feature – arguably the best thing about the LockSmart range is the ability to send the ‘key’ to anyone you like. Your friend wants to borrow the bike you have chained up outside while you’re at work? Maybe your LockSmart is protecting your front gate and the cleaners want in? With just a mobile number you’re able to give them either infinite, unlimited, time scheduled or single unlock access to any or all of your LockSmart padlocks.
When in range you’re also able to locate and track your lock based on signal strength, which I can really only imagine being useful in crowded locations with many bags/locks such as an airport. In mock attempts to lose and locate my LockSmart padlocks, the signal strength meter does prove accurate.
The Dog & Bone is extremely well designed and incredibly user friendly – allowing you to name and include a photo of each of your LockSmart padlocks. The app has a very polished user interface that made using it all the more effortless.
Now with the good comes bad, but in this case, very minimally… The only proper and true criticism of the LockSmart that I could muster from both myself or from anyone I used the padlocks with was the mild anxiety that “time was running out”. Despite the fact that the absolute minimum charge for any LockSmart (the Travel) is 375 unlocks, and disregarding that the app will notify you of a low battery, participants noted the ever-present gentle whisper of doubt that made them question if they’d be able to unlock the LockSmart the next time they needed to.
All things considered, the LockSmart range by Dog & Bone is truly a great series that provides a lot more versatility to asset protection than traditional locks. While a conventional lock of similar strength/size will set you back anywhere between $15-$50 AUD, I highly recommend giving these a go at ~$80-$92 AUD.
Just that much newer and smaller than the original LockSmart is the Mini. A beautifully designed bluetooth padlock with all the bells and whistles. From the outset this lock looks and feels elegant, the die cast alloy casing is strong and yet also feels really nice to hold. My most immediate concern when starting a series on smart locks, before anything, was that the locks themselves wouldn’t be as physically strong as traditional locks are – but boy was I wrong. The LockSmart Mini put my hands and pathetic forearm muscles to shame as I desperately tried to grip or otherwise pull it to death.
As far as battery life is concerned, the Mini will run for approximately 1500 unlocks, which with moderate use Dog & Bone suggest should last a year between recharges in normal operation. They also say that in power saving mode, it will last a whopping 3000 unlocks/2 years (Power saving mode simply means pressing a small button to wake the lock prior to opening it).
The Mini comes with a micro USB cable to recharge, and a full recharge only takes about an hour. When you consider that with moderate use this hour of charging will last you the year, it’s rather impressive.
The Mini retails for $95 AUD, check it out here!
Our lifestyle editor Geoff Quattromani had a look at the Travel early last year in CES (have a read of his take here), but this year Dog & Bone gave us a hands on look at the Travel! This bluetooth padlock is considerably smaller than the mini and subsequently much lighter. The locking mechanism doesn’t have the same clunk that the Mini boasts, the kind that instills a solidified confidence with every lock. However in saying that it was designed specifically to be versatile enough for travel and it feels the same as most other locks this size.
This lock is also Travel Sentry approved, which means that it’s compatible in over 20 countries and at least 600 different airports! No more padlocks being cut off or baggage damaged due to the TSA or Border Force wanting to have a peek inside. Some among us might be concerned by this ‘security flaw’, but I’m of the opinion that if they wanted in, they’ll find one whether or not I make it easy for them.
The battery life for the Travel is naturally weaker than that of the Mini, lasting for approximately 375 unlocks/3 months in normal operation, and up to 700 unlocks/6 months in power saving mode.
Unlike the Mini, the Travel isn’t rechargeable, it has a cell battery that can be easily replaced when the battery it comes with runs out.
You can pick up the travel for about $80 AUD, you can pick it up from the Dog & Bone website.