As you may remember from my review of the Reagle Smart Deadbolt Lock back in August, the excellent low cost lock utilizes Bluetooth to communicate to your HomeKit setup. Bluetooth, while great for providing a local and secure connection, is often limited by range, suffers from slighlty longer response times, and lacks remote capabilities without a HomeKit hub. The Reagle Gateway, which is a small companion device was released early last month, aims to solve some of these common Bluetooth downfalls by bridging the connection to your home’s Wi-Fi network. So in the world of HomeKit, is such as accessory worth the extra cost? Let’s take a look.
The Reagle Gateway comes in a rather ordinary, small brown cardboard box, with the company’s namesake and the device name front and center. Opening the box reveals the gateway unit itself, along with a power extension cable, USB power brick, and the associated paperwork. The Gateway features a clean black square design, with a male USB-A connector extending out from the bottom.
The USB port design was handy in our use case, as the area that it was plugged into had USB-A ports built-into the wall outlet, giving us a clean placement with no additional wires. As mentioned, Reagle does include an extension cable and a power brick if you want to go the traditional route, which was nice to see everything included in the box.
The front of the Gateway has no branding on it, with just a small LED indicator light sitting near the center. The sides of the unit were also bare, allowing it to blend in to its surroundings, which we quite liked, and around the back was just a simple label with all the appropriate regulatory markings and such. The USB power brick is also void of branding, and has a slim profile, allowing it to fit in tighter spaces such as connecting it to a power strip.
After using the USB design to its advantage by plugging it directly into a USB port in our outlet, it was time begin the pairing process. Since the hub is not involved with HomeKit, the pairing process is completed entirely through the Reagle app, and consists of just a few steps. When the Gateway first powers up, it displays a solid red color on its LED indicator light, and is followed by a series of flashing to indicate that it is ready for pairing. The Reagle app guides you through the beginning of the process by asking the user if the light is blinking, with a simple yes or no answer for confirmation.
After tapping on yes, the app proceeds to the actual pairing procedure, where it reminds you to stay close to your lock and to ensure that others in your home are not actively attempting to use it. The pairing process took just a couple of minutes, with its progress displayed via a percentage in the middle of the app. After pairing completes, a diagnostic screen is shown, providing a run-down of the connection strength from both the Gateway to the Wi-Fi router, and the Deadbolt to the Gateway.
During our pairing process, the diagnostic screen let us know that our connection from the Deadbolt to the Gateway (which is via Bluetooth) was “Bad” although it did allow us to proceed. We are not quite sure as to why our connection was stated as such, as the Gateway was within just around 5 foot away from the Deadbolt, and despite the app providing a tip on how to improve the connection, we proceeded anyway as we could not has possibly gotten any closer to the Deadbolt with how our home is configured.
Once you are finished with the pairing process, a new “Gateway” tab appears in the settings portion of the Reagle App near the top and to the right of the “Lock” tab. The Gateway tab gives you some basic information about the unit itself, such as when it was paired, the SSID that it is connected to, model, firmware version, device ID, and its connection status.
Also available is a handy “Diagnose” function for testing your Gateway’s connection, and the option to “Delete” the Gateway from your account. Since the Gateway is just an accessory to the Deadbolt, there isn’t much else that you get with the app, and the same goes for HomeKit, as Apple’s smart home platform doesn’t note its connection, and it appears just as it did before.
So as a HomeKit user, you may be wondering at this point, just what is the Reagle Gateway for? As previously mentioned, the Gateway is essentially a bridge that gives users without a HomeKit hub, or those that use a different platform such as Android, a way to access their locks remotely. However, for those more invested in HomeKit, there are still some benefits to be had that could make it worth your while.
One such benefit is that the Gateway gives owners of the Smart Deadbolt a much larger operating range, which can be crucial in larger homes where the HomeKit hub is not near your entry door. The Gateway’s compact design along with its clever integrated male USB-A connector makes it perfect for placement just about anywhere. Another is that the Gateway enables the ability to manage entry codes any time and anywhere.
The code ability is particularly handy for scenarios where you are out of the home, and either someone needs to drop something off at your home, or if you need to grant access to someone for just a little while. Previously, you could assign codes to people that persist or expire after a certain amount of time, or just simply unlock the door remotely for them, but the Gateway makes things a little more convenient, as you can delete the code as soon as you know that they are gone, preventing possible re-entry.
In our case, our Smart Deadbolt did not have any issues previously using just its Bluetooth connection to our HomeKit hub, so we didn’t see any improvements to speed and responsiveness with the added Gateway. This was a little surprising, as we expected some slight performance gains with commands sent and other queries through HomeKit, but this is not something that is advertised by Reagle, so it was merely our assumption and not a fault of the Gateway itself.
Reagle only states that the Gateway offers the following benefits, and even points out some that are already covered through the nature of HomeKit and a hub, which we certainly give them kudos for:
- Remotely lock/unlock your smart lock from anywhere with your smartphone
- Remotely change the lock’s configuration and enable/disable special functions such as auto-locking or lockdown
- Remotely add or remove customizable access Codes for your guests without having to be near your lock for syncing
- Remotely check the status of your smart lock and its batteries in real-time
- Receive notifications when guests or family members enter and leave your home
- View detailed access logs of all lock activities and stay in control 24/7
So in the end, the Reagle Gateway is one of those devices that is purpose built, and its true value is only for those with specific needs, such as for range extension. If you know that your existing Smart Deadbolt could benefit from extending its range via Wi-Fi, or if you or others that access your home use other operating systems, then it is certainly an easy accessory to recommend. The clever USB design, included accessories, and easy setup make it a great addition in these scenarios.
However, for most HomeKit users with an existing HomeKit hub near their deadbolt though, the slightly high retail price makes it a tougher sell. In this case the only benefit that will be seen is the ability to modify your access codes remotely, the need of which may not come around very often. We certainly give the company credit for being upfront about what is and what isn’t gained with the Gateway when it comes to HomeKit, and we are interested to see any additional features that Reagle adds to the Gateway in the future.
Disclaimer: This product was provided by Reagle for review purposes. No other compensation was received and the opinions and views expressed in this review are our own.