Biometric security devices are becoming more prevalent and are finding their way into devices such as door locks. One of those is the Keylock Fingerprint and Keypad Lock Model #6600-86 by Digi Enterprise, a lock billed as easy to install and use.
I had been looking into purchasing a biometric lock when the opportunity arose to evaluate a unit from The Gadgeteer. Smarthome.com had sent her the lock, she was unable to review it for the same reason mentioned below. I jumped at the chance and several days later the item turned up on my doorstep. Eager to install the lock I opened the box and immediately noticed that it seemed to be backwards. What I mean by that is that I would have to install it on the inside of all my outer doors for it to fit. That didn’t make any sense to me, so I went to their web site and learned that the lock comes assembled for either a right or left hand doors and apparently I had a right hand lock and only had left hand doors. I considered installing the lock on the inside of an infrequently used door or on the master bathroom door. Luckily I didn’t, as it would have been catastrophic as will become obvious.
Fortunately, my daughter Krista and son-in-law live close by and all their outer doors are of the correct orientation to install the lock and they agreed to let me use their house for the review. We chose the door from the car port to do the installation. This entry is the most used and would provide the data for a comprehensive review
We unpacked the box and inventoried the items. Conspicuously missing were any installation instructions. I suppose the illustrated parts breakdown drawing was meant to serve as the installation instructions. But, it only detailed some of the parts. Not to worry as I had a secret weapon – Mike. That’s my daughter’s husband. He’s is a mechanic by trade and was able to install the lock in 57 minutes as recorded by my Suunto N3i
watch. He did however have to do some jury rigging. The lock interfered with the original position of the deadbolt which had to be relocated. Also, it required a bit of shimming and longer screws to line up with the striker plate.
Now that the installation was completed we were all anxious to give it a spin and after installing the 4 AA batteries, we sat down and actually read the programming instructions.
The lock has 3 modes of operation: fingerprint detection, keypad and key. Unfortunately, the instructions are written in fractured English and have statements such as, “When add the same fingerprint randomly for N time, you should also delete the fingerprint for N times all the same”. We were able to decipher most of the document and after entering the master password into the keypad, we set up several keypad passwords. These have to be exactly 8 digits and are comprised of the limited 4 digits (0-3) available on the key pad. The * and # characters are used for commands.
Entering fingerprints into the lock was more problematic. After entering a series of commands and codes, the user puts a finger on the reader and listens for a series of beeps and removes his finger. This turned out to be a hit or miss proposition. Of the 4 adults in the house only Mike was able to consistently register his fingers. Krista and I made 6 attempts before we could register a digit and Janis, my wife never could. She was relegated to using the keypad.
Over the next several weeks the Keylock 6600-86 got a workout. Mike and Krista used it on a daily basis and Janis and I used it during our weekly visits.
Operation of the lock is simple. One slides the cover up and either puts their registered finger on the reader or enters the 8 digit code plus the command key on the keypad.
In practice, the fingerprint reader only detects correctly one out of four attempts. After each failing event you have to close and open the cover to reset the reader. I was able to increase my chance of success by running my finger under hot water, but that doesn’t seem like a practical solution.
The key pad has its own problems. You are forced to use an 8 digit code plus a command key. This wouldn’t be so bad if there was a ten key pad, but with only 4 digits to choose from, it’s less easy to generate an intuitive number. We found the keypad hard to see, especially at night because the numbers are so small. It’s
better to set the combination position specific rather than numbers (ie: 2 presses upper left, one lower right, etc.)
Krista has given up and uses the key, which appears to be very unique. We haven’t checked, but it doesn’t look like it can be duplicated.
The bottom line: The Keylock is going to be removed and will be relegated to a less frequently used entrance. It is too unreliable and difficult to operate. Using a key to open it obviates the advantages of a biometric device.