Kwikset is no stranger to touchpad deadbolts that let you in whenever you enter a code, but until now, those locks have also let you use a key. Not the Kwikset Obsidian, though. With a retail price of $180, it's the brand's newest deadbolt, and it doesn't use a key at all -- it's the touchpad, the app-enabled smarts, or bust.
Ditching the keyway eliminates the risk of the lock ever getting picked or forced open with a bump key, and it makes for a tidy little design, too. Like the name suggests, the Obsidian is all black and very minimalistic, with the touchpad making up almost the entirety of the deadbolt's exterior.
To unlock it, you'll press and hold on the touchpad for a second or two to wake it up, then enter your code. If you like, you can enable a setting that'll have the touchpad display two random digits for you to press before you put your code in -- that way, clever intruders won't be able to glean which numbers you press by examining the fingerprints on the lock. I like that feature a lot, especially since the lock's glossy touchpad tends to smudge just a little bit.
The interior of the deadbolt looks just like other Kwikset smart locks and houses the electrical components and the four AA batteries that keep it powered. The Obsidian will give you plenty of warning before those batteries run dead, but should you ignore or miss those warnings and come home to a dead deadbolt, you won't be left locked out for long. Just hold a 9-volt battery up to the two nodes on the bottom of the lock's front to give it the juice needed to accept your code, turn the bolt, and let you inside.
To use the lock's smarts, you'll need to download its app on your Android or iOS device. You can use that app to create unique codes for everyone who lives in your home, then track their comings and goings. You'll also be able to create codes that only work on specific days or at specific times, as well as one-time codes that expire after a single use. None of that will cost anything extra.
That's the same solid approach to user management that we saw with the Premis, Kwikset's new HomeKit-compatible smart lock. The Obsidian won't work with Siri like that lock will, but it will work with a variety of connected home platforms, including SmartThings, Wink, and Control4. Kwikset says that the Obsidian will be available with both ZigBee and Z-Wave radios inside, so you can pick which one suits your setup best.
The Obsidian's already got some competition -- namely from Yale, which has a key-free lock of its own. That's one of the next products I'm planning to test following CES, so stay tuned for a full review in the coming days.
As for the Obsidian, it's slated to arrive later in 2017 (Kwikset's representatives wouldn't get any more specific than that when I asked them for a time table on the CES show floor). Whenever it gets here, we'll be sure to test it out at the CNET Smart Home.