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

This high-tech deadbolt offers cool features and serious protection

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Ry Crist
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Ry Crist

Senior Editor / Reviews - Appliances

Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, and home networking.

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7 min read

When most homeowners think about upgrading their home appliances, they tend to think first about splurging on a high-end washer/dryer combo, or maybe a flashy new fridge. But there are plenty of subtle ways to upgrade your home that can make your everyday life easier, including smartening up your deadbolt.

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7.3

Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt

The Good

The Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt boasts stylish looks, and a a wide variety of high-tech home automation features, making it one of the most functional locks you can get.

The Bad

Taking full advantage of those home automation features means spending an additional $60 on a Nexia Bridge, along with an off-putting $9.99 monthly fee.

The Bottom Line

The Camelot is a high quality, feature-rich deadbolt, but you'd be smart to wait and compare it against the coming glut of smart locks due out in the coming months.

Enter the Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt. With the Camelot's touchscreen, you can leave the key in your pocket and gain entry by punching in a code. After heading inside, the door will automatically lock behind you in case you forget. If someone tries to break in or tamper with the lock, a built-in alarm will sound, alerting you to the issue and hopefully scaring the would-be intruder off. And, if you're willing to pay $59.99 for the Nexia Bridge control unit, along with $9.99 a month for Nexia Home Intelligence's home automation system, you can hook your deadbolt up to your computer, smartphone, or tablet to control it remotely, or even connect it with your lights to have them come on as automatically when you come in after a long day at work.

We unlock the Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt (pictures)

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The idea of paying a monthly fee for your deadbolt might leave a bad taste in your mouth, and rightly so. If the Camelot is the only thing you'd be automating, then buying a Nexia Bridge and paying the subscription fee almost certainly isn't worth it. But Nexia is designed to control all sorts of devices - locks, lights, thermostats, motion detectors, you name it. If you'd be interested in building a home automation system, with lots of devices working together to make your life easier, then upgrading to Nexia might make sense, and that $9.99 a month might be a bit more palatable.

The Camelot retails for $199, although you can get it at some retailers like Home Depot for closer to $160. That's still a lot more than you'll pay for a basic deadbolt at a corner hardware store, but given the Camelot's quality and functionality, I think that it's actually a pretty fair price. It's worth noting, though, that several new smart locks are due for release by the end of the year, including some intriguing crowd-sourced models from independent developers. All of these options will cost more than $160, so homeowners looking for a security upgrade should still take a look at what the Camelot can offer, especially ones who might, at some point down the line, be interested in automating the rest of their castles, too.

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Colin West McDonald / CNET

Design and features
The Camelot is a great-looking lock, and with four different finishes to choose from, it will match almost any front door decor. In addition, Schlage offers the Century Touchscreen Deadbolt, which offers the exact same features and functions of the Camelot at the same price, but with a more modern design.

The outer face of the lock features the touchscreen, where you'll punch in your code to get inside. Tapping the Schlage button will illuminate the numbers with soft blue light, making it easy to use at night. The lock will beep with every tap of the numbers, although you can turn these sounds off if you wish. There's also a convenient green checkmark icon that will flash with each button press, reassuring you that it registered your input. For security, the touchscreen is contoured with a bumpy matte finish - this makes it fingerprint-proof and prevents clever burglars from figuring out your code, but it also makes the screen slightly less responsive than we'd like.

On the inner side of the door, the lock is tall and just a tad bulky, but understandably so - it has to house the battery pack and the unit's motherboard, as well as the lock-turning mechanism. There's a traditional knob, meaning that the lock will be usable even if the battery runs dead, and also another Schlage button that's used for programming and deactivating the alarm.

You can set the motion-sensing alarm to one of three settings. You can set it to only go off when it detects that someone is trying to break the door down, or you can set it to go off if it detects that the inside of the lock is being tampered with, thwarting lockpick-savvy hooligans (we found that in this mode, the alarm will go off even if you just insert the key and wiggle it around a little bit). There's also an "Activity" mode, where the lock will beep twice whenever the door is opened or closed. You can adjust the sensitivity of the sensors for all three modes, or you can turn all of them off altogether.

You can adjust all other settings through the lock's touchpad. Your lock will come with two four-digit starter codes, as well as a six-digit programming code. Entering this programming code into the lock will trigger a mode where you can add or delete access codes and tweak other various settings. For instance, you can set the lock to "Vacation Mode," which disables all codes and relies exclusively on the key to allow entry - just make sure you remember to bring it with you to Belize.

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Colin West McDonald / CNET

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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7.3

Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt

Score Breakdown

Features 8Usability 6Design 7Performance 8
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