Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt review: Monthly fees lock out this smart lock's own best features

A deadbolt with a brain
Users looking for even more functionality from their Camelot deadbolt can also purchase a Nexia Bridge from Nexia Home Intelligence, Schlage's partner in home automation. For $59.99, the Nexia Bridge will plug into your router and act as the brain for all of your automatable devices, connecting them through the Z-Wave wireless network. In the Camelot's case, you'll be able to lock and unlock the door remotely from the Nexia Web site or using the Nexia app. You'll also be able to create relationships between the Camelot and the other devices in your system, say, your lights. For instance, you could set your lights to turn on automatically whenever you enter your code into the lock, or maybe tell your thermostat to start running the air. All of these Nexia-compatible devices are sold separately, though, so be prepared to shell out some cash in order to build your network, and keep in mind that you'll also need to pay Nexia $9.99 a month.

Using Nexia's Web site will also give you access to some new functionality for the lock. Instead of using the touch screen and entering the programming code, you'll be able to quickly adjust whatever setting you want just by hopping online. You can also create temporary codes with built-in expiration dates, or codes that will only work on certain days or at certain times of day -- an excellent way of letting house cleaners or pet sitters in, or keeping the in-laws at bay.

Screenshot by Ryan Crist

The Nexia Web site will also generate a timeline showing you every time the deadbolt has been locked and unlocked over the past 90 days. If someone inputs a code, the site will track which one, so if you give unique codes to each person who uses the lock (the Camelot can store up to 30 of them), then you'll be able to tell who is coming and going, and when.

Installation and usability
Installing the Camelot is a simple enough process -- the only tool that you'll need is a screwdriver, and it shouldn't take you longer than 15 or 20 minutes. The installation instructions are simple and straightforward, with clear, step-by-step directions and diagrams aplenty. If you've ever successfully put together furniture from Ikea, you should be fine.

The lock itself is adjustable to fit doors of varying widths and thicknesses, and should work in most homes. The Schlage Web site offers an online guide to help prospective buyers make sure that their door will be able to house the Camelot.

In our usability tests, the Camelot scored quite well. For basic functions, the initial codes provided with the lock will do just fine, letting you in and out with ease. If you need to change the settings, you'll need to follow the programming guide in the instruction manual. Fortunately, I found the guide clear, concise, and very helpful. And, should you also decide to try out the Nexia Bridge, the system's usability rockets off the chart due to the added access management functions. The company's Web site is also one of the best designed home automation control centers that I've seen.

Colin West McDonald / CNET

Maintenance
The Camelot runs on four AA batteries (not included). When these run low, the lock will alert you that it's time for a change. For an added layer of security, Schlage also recommends that you periodically change your codes.

Schlage offers a lifetime warranty on the finish and mechanics of the deadbolt, and guarantees the electrical components for one year. The company's Web site features full documentation for the Camelot, along with troubleshooting tips, frequently asked questions, and installation guides. Customer service is also available over the phone six days a week.

Colin West McDonald / CNET

Conclusion
The Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt is a marketed as a majestic and powerful device, and we have to say that it delivers on this promise. At $160 or more, depending on the specific finish you select and whether you decide to tack on the Nexia Bridge, it certainly isn't cheap, but the high quality merits a higher price. Considering how often we all use our front-door locks, upgrading to a more functional model makes sense, and if you're going to upgrade, the Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt deserves to be toward the top of your list.

However, prospective buyers should also keep an eye out for new, soon-to-be-released smart locks, such as the Lockitron , the Kevo, the Goji , and the August. All of these will offer comparable functionality to the Camelot, and none of them come will with any monthly subscription fees. Still, they'll all cost more than $160, and if you don't splurge on Nexia's home automation services, that's all you'll pay for the Camelot. You might want to wait until all of your options are available before making a purchase, but if the Camelot looks good to you now, I say go for it.

I don't, however, recommend getting the Nexia Bridge if you only intend to use it to automate your lock. As much as I like the additional features and the power of the Nexia Web site, the added price and the monthly subscription fee just aren't worth it for one device alone. Those interested in getting started with home automation, however, might find Nexia's system to be totally worthwhile -- they can find my review of the Nexia Bridge here .

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Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt

Part Number: BE469NX CAM 619
Low Price: $499.99 See all prices