Finally, a padlock with a brain.
Once upon a time, I had a locker. That locker held books, my coat, and other essential items that I couldn’t live without during the school day. The one thing that I always hated was my padlock. There is nothing more frustrating than having to get from one end of a large school to the other only to have your combination lock on your locker give you the fits. This happened to me on multiple occasions during school and when the lock was stuck, it made me late for my class. Back then we had two options for locks — key or combination. Now there are Bluetooth locks and even locks that will open with your fingerprint — like Tapplock. Tapplock would have made my life — and so many others’ — much easier back then. Fortunately, kids today — as well as adults — can take advantage of this awesome device now.
The Tapplock was designed to be tough. It features a Zamak 3 zinc metal body with cut-resistant 7mm stainless steel shackle. According to the product page on the website, Tapplock is a double-layered lock design with anti-shim and anti-pry capabilities. This makes the lock virtually unbreakable. It’s rated IP66, which means it’s 100% dust-proof and water resistant up to high-pressure, heavy sprays of water, but it’s not waterproof and cannot be submerged. The company also rates it as ‘rust-proof’ and fully functional between 14F and 140F. Tapplock features a completely rechargeable battery. It will reportedly last up to a year with a 2-hour charging session (or 3,500 unlocks per charge). The app will show remaining battery life and you can always recharge it sooner if needed.
The Tapplock is built with cutting-edge fingerprint technology. Users have the ability to store up to 500 different fingerprints per lock for multiple users. The lock can be opened in just 0.8 seconds using your fingerprint. In addition to the fingerprint sensor, there are two additional ways you can unlock it — Bluetooth using your phone and a backup Morse-Code option. You also have the ability to share your wireless access with others through the app. You can share and control access remotely to unlimited users and view access history with time and location.
There are three color options for Tapplock — sterling silver, gunmetal, or midnight black. A single lock retails for around $100, but you can purchase them in packages of 2 for around $180 or 4 for around $350 (prices current at the time of article posting).
My first impressions of the Tapplock were very good. The box for the lock was well branded but very minimal in design. It is a simple black box with “Tapplock one: Smart fingerprint padlock.” stamped on the front and “tapp” stamped on the sides. After removing the plastic wrapper, I pulled out the instruction booklet and charging cable (proprietary magnetic charging connection) that shipped with the lock. The lock itself felt very robust when I picked it up. The lock weighs approximately 308 grams or roughly 1.8 times more than an iPhone X. An average MasterLock Combination Lock weighs approximately 164 grams so the Tapplock is quite a bit more than that. This is not a dealbreaker for me because of how functional the device is, but I wanted to note it nonetheless.
Before I even set up the lock, I was very impressed with its design and build quality. As the stats above will note, it’s built tough and I believe it will hold up very well over time. I have only used the lock indoors thus far because that is where I plan on using it. I have used it to lock up our charging cabinet, which is built out of metal and it seems to hold up well against that type of daily use. I would compare this type of use to what a student might see with a locker.
Setup of the Tapplock is pretty easy to walk through. Once you have unboxed it, you can identify the different parts of the lock including the status indicator just below the shackle on the same side as the fingerprint sensor, the fingerprint sensor, the power/mode button on the bottom front side and the charging port on the bottom towards the back. The quick start guide is going to direct you to download your mobile app at the very beginning of the process. It’s available for either iOS or Android operating systems. When you have that installed, you will be asked to create an account (or sign in if you already have an account).
After you have entered your personal information and verified your email address, the app will take you through a short tutorial by highlighting the different menus and features of the app. There does appear to be a bug in the app right now (version 2.0) that causes it to crash when you try to add a profile picture. This has happened to me every time that I’ve attempted to add one in, but Robyn has tried it, too and she was able to add a picture. We are on the same version of the app. I’m sure this will be remedied in future versions.
The app is honestly pretty intuitive and easy to navigate through. There is a Homepage which will show all the locks that you either own or are shared with you. You will only be able to access the lock’s information if you are connected to it. Then, there is the Shared Access menu that provides you with the ability to share your lock with others. You can either select one-time access or permanent access. The history tab shows you the lock’s open history for both Bluetooth and Fingerprint connections. The Settings tab gives you access to change your password and user data as well as control notification and display preferences.
I did not have any issues whatsoever programming the fingerprint into the lock. The process is similar to setting up a fingerprint ID on a phone. I simply placed my finger on the sensor and the lock scanned it. I got a notification from the app saying it had been accepted. It was so quick and easy that I thought the app had messed up and not recorded my fingerprint. When I went to unlock it for the first time, I thought for sure it would not open, but it did! It’s really a slick piece of technology.
The Morse Code set up was a little trickier than the fingerprint programming. It’s not hard per se, just a little awkward. It requires long and short presses of the power/mode button. The short presses are simple, but when you start adding long presses in along with the short presses, it becomes a bit harder to unlock. I decided to only add one long press in my personal Morse Code so that it would be easier to unlock (6 short, 1 long). To enter Morse Code mode, you have to press the power button three times and wait to see a green light. Then, you enter your Morse Code. So, for me the sequence is this:
short-short-short > green light > short-short-short-short-short-short-long
Again, not difficult, but a little tricky. This was another element of this device that I thought would never work, but it does. I’ve used it several times throughout my testing process and it’s worked every time.
Once the lock is programmed, it’s really easy to work with. You simply tap the power button to turn on the lock, watch for the status indicator light to turn white and then place your finger on the sensor. The lock will open within a second or two. If you are opening the lock using Bluetooth, you will press the power button twice and the indicator will turn blue. You can also enter Morse Code mode by using the technique I outlined above. Tapplock will enter a sleep mode after 10 seconds of inactivity. This conserves battery power. If you can remember how to enter the different modes, you shouldn’t have any issues operating the lock.
We’ve been fortunate enough to work with several different types of padlocks including Noke, Dog & Bone, MasterLock, and even the Benjilock. And while Tapplock isn’t the only ‘biometric’ lock in the market, it certainly seems to have the best interface and user experience. The only criticism I really have is the price point because a standard combination padlock is usually less than $10. So, why would you spend 10 times that for this lock? Peace of mind. I feel that my belongings are safe and secure and at the same time, I don’t have to have anxiety over retrieving them when the combination just won’t open the lock. Tapplock has designed a really solid, cutting-edge locking solution for all types of users.
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For more information, visit tapplock.com.
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