The primary Ultraloq smart lock, launched in 2019, was a promising product held again by an extremely tough set up course of that actually required a hacksaw to finish. Its producer, U-tec, has spent the intervening years smoothing out that set up course of—hacksaw now not required—and has launched an upgraded model, the U-Bolt Professional WiFi. This new mannequin eliminates the necessity for a separate Wi-Fi bridge to attach it to your private home community.

Bodily, the U-Bolt Professional WiFi seems to be almost equivalent to its predecessor, with just some beauty modifications. The all-black machine nonetheless arranges its beefy numeric buttons in a hoop round a fingerprint reader. Flip your complete entrance panel down and you’ll entry a conventional bodily keyhole as effectively. A micro-USB port is included for emergency use if its 4 AA batteries die. The lock’s look is exclusive and weird, and whereas it seems to be considerably industrial and ominous, I’ve definitely seen worse sensible locks.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart locks, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

U-tec has revamped its installation process and accompanying manual to streamline and simplify the process. The aforementioned need to cut the tailpiece to fit your door is gone, and the exterior escutcheon no longer has sharp teeth that hold it in place against the wood of the door. (An improved screw design now does that job.) I didn’t encounter any of my prior troubles with overtightened screws preventing the deadbolt from moving and causing a jam, either. All told, it seems that U-tec has really improved its hardware, and I encountered no trouble getting the lock affixed to my door and running in less than 10 minutes.

ultraloq u bolt pro fingerprint reader Christopher Null / IDG

The Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro is outfitted with a fabulous fingerprint reader.

U-tec’s app experience has changed much less than its hardware, and I was able to quickly discover the lock and pair it to my phone via Bluetooth. My biggest hiccup arrived soon after that, however, as U-tec’s Wi-Fi pairing system absolutely refused to connect to my mesh network. Not only can the device not connect to 5GHz networks, your mobile device can’t be connected to a 5GHz network during the setup process. That presents a particular problem since neither my phone nor router allow the 5GHz band to be disabled. Some serious delving into the router’s power settings can be used to get things connected, but for most users this is probably asking too much.

ultraloq app showing unlocked state Christopher Null / IDG

For basic operations, it doesn’t get any simpler than U-tec’s centrally positioned lock/unlock button.

With or without Wi-Fi, the unit behaves identically to the prior version of the lock. It’s easy to set up one or two fingerprints, a PIN code, and/or app access for up to 50 users, each of which can each be limited by time and date as well as by the total number of unlock operations. Operationally, the unit works really well: The mechanical buttons are easy to press accurately, and the fingerprint reader is as capable as ever.

Additional features are plentiful. Automatic locking is configurable anywhere between 10 seconds and 5 minutes and can be set to work with the included (but optional) wireless door sensor to avoid locking while the door is ajar. An auto-unlock geofencing system can be enabled if desired—I had better a better experience with this feature than I did with the 2019—lock. You can also use U-tec’s oddball Magic Shake feature to unlock the door. Turning your phone on its side unlocks the door instead of pushing a button in the app. Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT support have not changed since the 2019 version of the lock.

Integrating Wi-Fi directly into the lock instead of requiring an external bridge is a great idea—and most smart-lock manufacturers are moving in this direction—but without a solid implementation of Wi-Fi in the first place it doesn’t mean all that much. The U-Bolt Pro WiFi’s other improvements are solid and much appreciated, and the asking price remains the same as the older generation, at $249. That said, if you’re going to put WiFi in the name of the product; well, that’s where it really needs to deliver.

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