Lockly Vision review: A smart door lock and doorbell in one

A visionary idea that's not quite ready for primetime

Lockly Vision
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A major flaw in the smart home is that things don't always work with each other, and nowhere is this more frustrating than the front door.

There are dozens of smart door locks available and even more video doorbells, but I can count on one hand the number of locks that integrate directly with a doorbell to let you unlock the door while talking to your visitor. And none are made by the same company.

Lockly, based in California, has tackled this problem head on with Lockly Vision, an audio and video enabled smart door lock. Genius.

The Lockly Vision is essentially Lockly's Secure smart door lock (which we reviewed and gave our coveted Top Pick) but with an HD video doorbell and microphone built-in for live streaming, recorded video, and two-way audio. It's one device to turn your front door smart, with no drilling or wiring required.

There's also no cloud subscription as all video is stored locally (on an included SD card) and there are - count them - five ways to use the lock: fingerprint, keypad, key, app, or voice control.

The one obvious downside is the $399 price tag. But as you're getting two devices that regularly cost $200 or more in one package that's a little easier to swallow.

We've been putting the Lockly Vision through its paces, read on for our full review.

Lockly Vision smart lock

Lockly Vision: Design and hardware

We loved the design of the Lockly Secure, only bemoaning just how humongous it was. The Lockly Vision continues that same modern look, sporting a smooth metal exterior (we tested satin nickel, it also comes in matte black), and a slightly slimmer, more rounded form-factor.

There's the same digital touchscreen, which stays unobtrusively black until you tap it to see the numbers, and the key hole cover completes the polished look.

The biggest changes are the addition of a small camera at the top of the lock and a physical button at the bottom of the screen for ringing the doorbell.

A camera-free option: Lockly Secure Pro

Lockly has also added a ridge around the fingerprint reader - presumably to help you place your finger more accurately. However, because the reader is on the side of the lock, on our door this means you physically can't get your finger between it and the doorframe.

This won't be an issue for most doors - but is something to consider if your door lock is on the right of your door.

Lockly Vision smart lock installed

Another new addition is the Vision Connect Hub. This is a bridge that has to be plugged into a socket and connected to your router.

It gives the lock and doorbell camera Wi-Fi connectivity so you can control them both while away from home (Bluetooth is used for closer connections) and also hosts a microSD card for storing video recordings locally.

There's currently no option for cloud storage of videos, you have to use the SD card. But Lockly says a cloud option is coming soon

An integrated door sensor is also a new hardware feature - but one rather inelegantly executed. It's wired into the door lock (although you can remove it), and sits under the lock where you fix it to your door using the supplied adhesive.

Then pop its magnet on the other side of the door frame and you can know when your door is open or closed, as well as locked or unlocked. This is a very useful feature, as anyone who has ever tried to lock their door remotely and come home to a wide open door with a dead bolt extended can tell you.

Lockly Vision review: This smart door lock doubles as a video doorbell

Lockly Vision: Installation and features

While most smart devices have dispensed with physical instruction books in favor of app-guided installation, Lockly has gone the opposite route, including enough instruction booklets to start a decent fire (although you can download and use the BILT app if you prefer).

The volumes of paper are quite reassuring however, as there are a lot of pieces and parts to this lock, making the installation process appear a bit daunting at first.

In practice, it installs just like any full replacement door lock, with the main difference being you also connect a small AV cable for the video and this lock uses eight AA batteries (included) as opposed to the more common four.

Lockly says they should power the lock and doorbell for 6 months.

Lockly Vision in the box

The main hardware features are the touch screen, a keyed lock (it comes with two keys but you can re-key it if you want to use existing keys), the 3D fingerprint scanner, the camera, and the doorbell.

Helpfully, the lock also comes with a small sign you can put below your existing doorbell or door knocker advising people not to use it but to instead press the button on the door lock.

This gets us to a major flaw of the device, no-one is going to ring your door lock. In the week we had the device installed not once did anyone ring it, even with the sign there. It's just not intuitive.

On the lock front, the fingerprint access is the standout feature here - you can save up to 99 different fingers - and it responds speedily to your touch.

The touchpad also has some tricks, including a patented rotating number feature that means no matter how many smudges you generate on the surface or how hard someone peers over your shoulder, they won't be able to guess what code you're putting in as you never enter it the same way twice.

Lockly Vision on front door

Each button has three numbers on it and the minimum length code is six digits, plus you can turn on a feature that changes the buttons around after every touch.

This is very secure, but frankly a bit exhausting, not to mention tedious to actually use - as you have to really concentrate. We also had trouble using the lock in direct sunlight as we couldn't make out the numbers

The touch screen gives you a quick way to lock the door, too - just swipe your hand across it. You can also program it so that you have to touch a specific button to lock it, which helps avoid accidental activation.

Once the lock is installed you can lock and unlock the door using all the physical features we've discussed, including an auto lock feature that can be set to any length you like.

Lockly Vision review: This smart door lock doubles as a video doorbell

Or use Lockly's straightforward app to control your lock.

Here you can also assign access codes to family members, send guest codes that will self implode after a set period of time, or one-time use codes.

You can also create Offline Access Codes, which means the user doesn't have to download the Lockly app.

While the door lock has almost all the features we look for in a lock, the integrated doorbell's feature set is rather lacking.

There's no motion activation so you only get a notification and live video feed if someone actually presses the button.

There is no option for a chime inside your house, video quality is pretty poor, and the camera points upwards so all you can see is the face of your visitor or the sky.

All of this make the camera part very underwhelming, and more of a stopgap than a proper smart doorbell solution.

Lockly Vision review: This smart door lock doubles as a video doorbell

The one positive is - thanks to the Vision Connect Hub - connectivity is very good, with no latency or lag. Why there isn't a chime built into the hub is baffling.

While the video quality is low, and in our testing there was a lot of interference, it is clear enough to make out who is there, even at night.

But the angle means it's really only useful as an intercom, you won't be using this to keep an eye on packages or as an extra security camera.

There is an option to record when someone unlocks the door using the keypad. Which might be helpful for keeping track of dog walkers, children and the like - but we couldn't get this feature to work in testing.

You can also see in the log when and who unlocked the door - but there's no option for push notifications showing who accessed the door.

The device integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to control the lock via voice or add into smart home routines, but there is no integration with the video doorbell - so you can't pull up a live feed on your smart screen.

There's no HomeKit support although Lockly says it's in development.

Lockly Vision review: This smart door lock tries to do too much

Lockly Vision: In use

As a door lock we really liked the multiple options for access. Being able to use a key, code, app or voice to lock and unlock makes using this lock really easy, and ensures noone in your household is ever left out in the cold.

My favorite way to use the Lockly Secure was the fingerprint reader. This is such a simple, intuitive way to unlock a door and doesn't require you having a phone on you (unlike proximity unlocking and touch-to-unlock features on the likes of Level or August).

Not being able to do this on the Lockly Vision because of the added ridge on the fingerprint reader and the way my door is setup was very disappointing. While I'm probably in the minority, putting the fingerprint reader on the front, top or bottom would avoid this being a problem for anyone.

Lockly Vision review:

The Lockly app has been updated since we reviewed the Lockly Secure and is a lot snappier, plus the addition of the hardwired hub dramatically improves the speed of communication.

The door locks and unlocks in the app almost instantly, although it still takes a few seconds to register when you first open the app. You can also control the lock from your computer.

Rival: Level Touch smart lock review

As we've said, the video doorbell is where things fall down. The only way this is worth the money is if you have no other way of installing a video doorbell.

While the video pulls up quickly and there is no audio lag in the two-way talk, the view is narrow and cramped, showing you more sky than person and you are forced into landscape mode,

Lockly Vision review:

Video is low quality and there's no HDR or IR night vision, making it sometimes hard to ID a person. It would also be easy for someone to avoid being seen by this camera and still pinch a package off your porch as there is no motion activation.

There's also a time limit to the live view to save battery life - it counts down from 20 seconds which is a bit stressful! You can extend the time, but you have to remember to press a button to do that or else you're cut off.

The main benefit here is the ability to lock and unlock your door from the video screen all in one app. But as it's really only usable as a video intercom, you'd be better off with a Ring Video Doorbell and a Schlage WiFi Lock, which work together just as well and get you much better video options, plus don't require a hub, but you won't get that handy fingerprint access.


Lockly Vision
A brilliant idea in concept, this is one to skip unless you really have no other way to get a doorbell camera set up on your front door. The lock is great, but the doorbell aspect is poorly executed and expensive. We'd stick with the Lockly Pro Secure if you want a fortress on your front door and opt for one of the many other excellent video doorbells out there for keeping an eye on what's going on outside your door.
PROS
  • Two devices in one
  • Keypad, fingerprint, and key access
  • Local storage
  • No lag or latency
  • Alexa and Google voice control
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Uses 8 AA batteries
  • Low quality video
  • No motion activation
  • No interior chime
  • Requires hardwired hub


TAGGED    video doorbells

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