Master Lock – Bluetooth beats brawn (review)


Master Lock founded in 1921 has been at the cutting edge of lock technology inventing the world’s first laminated lock and even helping Harry Houdini with his amazing escapes.

The phrase “Master Lock Tough” was coined after a lock withstood being hit by a 30 calibre rifle shot. Enough history – if it is Master Lock it is tough!

But times have changed, and technology has come to the humble lock with the addition of Bluetooth and apps.

Two Master Lock Bluetooth enabled products stand out.

First, is the Lock Box. You know, the box on the wall you open with a combination to gain access to the keys when renting a holiday share property. These need to be Master Lock tough judging by the number of cheaper broken ones I have seen.

Second is the Outdoor Padlock – that hulking big lock and shackle to protect everything from the shed to the boat.

Review – Master Lock 5541D Bluetooth Electronic wall mount lock box A$220

(also available as model 5540D portable shackle type lockbox).

The popularity of short-term and holiday rentals continues to rise. Sydney is now one of the top five markets in the world for Airbnb, with more than 60,000 listings. There is the age-old problem – where to collect or return the key and heaven forbid if it is outside normal business hours.


Forget the spare key under the pot plant – that is the first place thieves look.

The lockbox attaches by four solid (up to 5mm) screws to any timber or brick surface. Even if thieves could lever it off the wall (very unlikely), there is no way to open the box even by brute force.

Its weather resistant and large at 83 (w) x 59 (d) x 127 (h) enough to put in keys, a garage remote or credit card sized access keys.

But the utility is just starting. Download the iOS or Android eLock app and you can:

  • Set up permanent codes for you
  • Set up guest codes (for a future date, and can change them easily)
  • Track usage – have the renters returned the key?
  • Receive tamper alerts
  • Set usage times

Now there are a few caveats.

  • The lock can also use a five-digit code for access – good
  • The lockbox communicates to a smartphone via Bluetooth that typically has a 30-metre range.
  • It cannot be accessed remotely via a web browser. It does not communicate with the home network via Wi-Fi, so you need to be near it to use a smartphone
  • Guest access is based on Master Lock Vault accounts you link from your account and work entirely through the guest’s smartphone. Temporary combinations are automatically generated based on a specific window of time and the lock’s code; there are over 65,000 possible code combinations
  • The app has had issues with Android Oreo – it appears to have been updated
  • CR123A coin battery life is claimed to be “long”, but there is no mention of hours (we suspect a couple of years). There is a secret and secure way to unlock the device if the battery dies.

Price: A$220 at Bunnings for the wall mount or shackle version. Look online – you may find a bargain.


GadgetGuy’s take

Well made, near indestructible, handy smartphone and manual access for you and guests.

We would love Master Lock to release a Wi-Fi version too – but that is part of the smart home future!

In the end, it comes down to do you buy a Bluetooth wall lock or a lower cost (under $100) manual one that uses combinations.

I suspect that home-share owners will be the biggest market for controlled guest access.

Review Masterlock 4401DLH Bluetooth Outdoor padlock (A$139)

(also available as indoor model 4400D A$119)

We have covered the Bluetooth and app aspect in the Wall Mount review above.

This is a large lock – 56mm wide and a 51mm (height) x 9mm (thickness) x 23mm (internal) shackle.

It is perfect for gates, fences, sheds, lockers, even a tradie’s ute mounted tool boxes. There are no stress figures given, but again I suspect its well beyond the professional thief to cut the shackle or pop the lock. It is weather resistant.

This offers the convenience of smartphone proximity unlock, via the eLock app, and manual unlock entering a pattern via the left/right/up/down keypad.

Again, it is ideal to share access via the app and to get a history of its use.


GadgetGuy’s take

A shackle padlock is designed to keep something locked up. Invariably you access it infrequently so if that is your use pattern then go for a standard lock.

However, if you use it frequently and would like to have the guest access feature, this is the choice.

Ratings – both

Rated as a Bluetooth lock with guest access – not as a standard key/combination lock

  • Overall: 4 out of 5
  • Features: 4 out of 5 – While Bluetooth features are unique we can’t help feel that it would have been perfect with Wi-Fi as well
  • Value for money: 3 out of 5 – Not so much a comment on price but a comment on how you use the locks – if only an occasional user then buy a cheaper lockbox and shackle lock. I did notice reasonable discounts online over physical stores.
  • Performance: 4 out of 5 – in all tests it met specifications
  • Ease of Use: 4 out of 5 – easy to use and set up. It is a little complex at first
  • Design: 5 out of 5 – superb build quality and strength

 

Overall
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Reader Rating0 Votes
Bluetooth convenience in key sdafes and padlocks
Expensive - only if you have the need for guest access
4