TESTED: Master Lock 4400D smart padlock

Date:1 July 2016 Author: Anthony Doman Tags:, , ,

Even in this e-everything world, it’s a valid question: does humankind really need a Bluetooth lock?

For most of us, the answer is probably no, we don’t need one. Yet… as we drown in passwords, there’s something extraordinarily compelling about the prospect of never needing to remember a combination or, for that matter, a key.

Master Lock offers two versions of its Bluetooth lock, similar apart from shackle length. The 4400D version on test here is the standard length, with 22 mm shackle clearance. In this guise, it’s suitable for lockers and cabinets and, in combination with a chain, say, for bigger items.

As high-security locks go, this product looks the part. Its reassuring heft and unyielding exterior suggest that serious persuasion will be needed to compromise it. There is no keyhole, just a keypad (really a key dial) with a central LED that lights up blue when locked or communicating, green when open and yellow to indicate a low battery. Activating the device out of the box involves no more than a few minutes to pair it with my smartphone. I started by scanning the QR code on the back of the packaging and installing the Vault app, which is available in Android or iOS.

I then followed onscreen prompts and registered the device using the 12-digit activation code supplied on the quick start leaflet. Click on the confirmation link sent by email (I found it worked best doing all of this on my phone) and a few more prompts later you’re ready to unlock. You can name individual locks, so when your registered phone comes within Bluetooth range, you can unlock with a single press on the lock’s keypad. As backup, there’s a seven-tap customisable manual unlock sequence, also used when Bluetooth-blocking Locker Mode is enabled.

Notifications offered via the app include access  history, tamper alerts and a low battery alert. Master Lock also offers the ability to share access, temporarily or permanently, to a guest user. The app’s help page contains a pretty comprehensive FAQ, too. Incidentally, if your phone is lost or stolen, you can use the online portal to block Bluetooth access and reset credentials. If the lock battery dies while locked, the battery drawer is able to slide open just enough to insert a fresh disc cell up against the “jump start” terminals to unlock. Of course, that works only in combination with the registered phone.

Being the first publication to get its hands on the new lock locally, we were not entirely surprised to find the occasional hitch. In trying to set up my Master Lock Vault profile, for instance, the online portal refused to input the identification code emailed to me. Also, when I tried to set up a guest account, the app returned an “invalid cellphone number” message. The app contains a “contact Master Lock” button, though this directs you to either email or the North American contact centre.

These functions are not critical to the lock’s everyday functioning and the problems suggest a US-vs-SA conflict. Still, they are important features in what is after all a premium product and fully connected functionality would be better.

Just the facts:
H x W x H: 47 x 22 x 27 mm
Weight: 216 g
Battery life: 2 years
Shackle  7 mm hardened boron carbide
Warrenty: 2 years
Battery: CR2450 3 V disc
Price: R2 000

This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine.

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