Secure your life Benjilock by Hampton products.
In 2017, our team got their first look at Benjilock products at CES. At that time, it was just a prototype, but the concept and the technology were sound. After being featured on Shark Tank as a funded project with Shark, Kevin O’Leary ($200,000 for 15% equity), the company and its products exploded and because of that partnership with O’Leary, Hampton Product International became interested in Benjilock. Today, Hampton owns the rights to the product in North America, and all Benjilock products are branded “Benjilock by Hampton.” Earlier this year – at CES actually – Benjilock by Hampton announced some new products including the Fingerprint Bike Lock and the Sport Lock. We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work with these products and are eager to discuss our thoughts on them.
Benjilock 35mm Fingerprint Sport Padlock
The Fingerprint Sport Lock is designed to be a smaller, sleeker padlock than the original. It’s perfectly sized for locker use and because it’s lightweight, it’s easy to store in a backpack or gym bag. The big differentiator between the Sport Lock and the original is the absence of a key. There is no key option on the Sport Lock. It solely relies on the fingerprint reader to unlock the shackle. The padlock can store up to 10 fingerprints and it’s powered by rechargeable lithium batteries. On a full charge, the batteries should last approximately 6 months with regular use. The shackle is made from stainless steel. There are a variety of colors available including white, red, and matte black. The lock retails for $29.99.
The lock comes in a nice retail package. It is a hermetically sealed plastic package with a cardboard sheet around it. There are plenty of details about the product included on the cardboard wrap and the Shark Tank seal is, of course, included. I also really like that Robbie Cabral’s photo is included on the back of the package with the title “Inventor” beneath it. He should continue to receive his due credit. This type of packaging is really great for retail shelves. It’s visible and the blue color that is used makes the product stand out well. Getting into these packages is always a bit of a chore for me, but I do see the usefulness of it for selling purposes.
Upon retrieving the lock from its retail package, I found that it charges with Micro USB. Now, I realize that there are still plenty of devices that charge using this technology, but it is becoming more and more outdated. Since this product was just released this year, I was hoping that maybe the charging outlet would have been upgraded to a USB-C port. This isn’t a dealbreaker for me, but it’s definitely a con for the product. A charging cable is provided and it comes wrapped up with the instructions. It is recommended that you charge the lock completely before you program it. The instructions are provided in both English and French. They are pretty straightforward. To program a fingerprint, you press the sensor for 5 seconds until you hear the buzzer. You move your finger away and then place the finger you want to program onto the sensor until the blue LED turns solid and the buzzer sounds for a long length of time. This marks the successful programming of the fingerprint reader.
The lock is super simple to program. I had my thumbprint entered within just a few seconds. At first, I wasn’t sure that it actually took the fingerprint, but then I tried a different finger and the lock didn’t light up or make any sounds. I programmed a second fingerprint in and then handed it off to my fiance. The lock rejected her fingerprints, but still accepted mine. I did a quick reliability test and three out of three attempts were successful. The ‘buzzer’ sound really isn’t a loud sound so if you are hard of hearing like I am, you may not hear it. Fortunately, the status LED does indicate that the lock is operating. I do really like the convenience of the size of this lock and how easy it is to program/operate. I think it’s a big win for Benjilock.
Benjilock Fingerprint U-Type Bike Lock
The Fingerprint U-Type Bike Lock is the natural next step for Benjilock locks. This lock also stores up to 10 fingerprints like the Sport Padlock. The lock can be opened with a key or the fingerprint and it’s available with a 7.87” shackle. The lock is weather-resistant with an IP-65 rating. It features a pick-and-drill resistant cylinder and a bolt cutter-resistant, covered hardened steel shackle. The lock is powered by rechargeable lithium batteries that provide an estimated 6 months on a single charge. It’s only available in black and has a retail price of $79.99.
This lock actually comes in a large box. It does have a wrapper on it that features the Benjilock branding and colors. There is a striking picture of the product on the front and plenty of details about the product around the wrapper – just like the Sport Lock. When you open the box you will find the U-Type Bike Lock in pieces. The lock mechanism cylinder is one piece and the U-Pipe is the other main piece. There are also keys included with this lock as well as its charging cable – a USB-C – and a user guide. The user guide is much larger than the one that comes with the Sport Padlock. It’s printed on glossy stock paper and folded like a booklet instead of wrapped up with the charging cable like the padlock. There are three languages included in the user guide – English, French, and Spanish.
Just like with the padlock, you are instructed to charge the lock before programming/using it. The charging port is located directly under the fingerprint reader. It is a USB-C port, which was surprising to me since the Sport Padlocks were released at the same time and utilize Micro USB. I also thought the placement of the charging port was a little awkward. There is a plastic circular cover that covers both the fingerprint reader and the charging port. The charging port also has a silicone flap on it to protect it from the elements. The cable did fit, but it was a little awkward trying to maneuver around both the silicone flap and the plastic cover to the area.
After charging the lock overnight, I attempted programming it. This seemed to be a little problematic. I attempted to use the instructions and followed them precisely. It seemed as though my thumbprint was accepted and I was even able to walk through the ‘additional fingerprint’ programming after that. But, at times, the reader was unresponsive (no lights were coming on and no sounds were audible). Also, it seemed as though the actual locking mechanism wasn’t extending as far as it should secure the U-bar. When this happened, I decided to use the keys. The key lock is located at the bottom of the lock section. The key worked just fine and the lock actually felt secure in place when locking/unlocking the bike lock in this way. Even though the key lock worked really well, the fingerprint reader being unresponsive kind of defeats the purpose of buying this particular lock.
The build of the product is quite impressive and very heavy-duty, in my opinion. I’m just not sure about its reliability – especially with the fingerprint reader. After I had the issues I had, I did quite a bit of research and found that many other users have voiced similar readability issues with their Fingerprint U-Type Bike Lock. Generally, the concept is great and it seems to be a product that people really want to see work, but this version just isn’t hitting the mark. Honestly, I would attribute that to it being a first-generation product. The Sport Padlock is technically a fourth-generation product. Benjilock started with its prototype and then had the 43mm Fingerprint Padlock, then the TSA Fingerprint Padlock, and now the Sport Padlock. Also, I noticed that the fingerprint reader in the bike lock seems to be different from the metal ringed one used on the padlocks. This could have something to do with the reliability of the reader, too.
Benjilock by Hampton makes some solid products. I can definitely vouch for the Sport Padlock and the previous padlock products, but I do think the bike lock could use some improvements. I know that I wouldn’t feel comfortable using it in a public scenario since the locking mechanism and the fingerprint reader both seem unreliable. That said, I do think Benjilock by Hampton will make a second-generation product that will be better than the first.