There are plenty of pay-as-you-go mobile hotspots on the market today, so what’s special about Karma you ask? For starters, it’s all about sharing, and rewarding you for sharing. The way it works with your Karma hotspot is that Karma has an open Wi-Fi signal, so that anyone around can connect to it. And when they do connect to it, you’ll both get 100MB of free data to use – and this free data will be available to use with any Karma hotspot that you come in contact with. Karma has dubbed this “social bandwidth.”
The actual Karma hotspot is super petite, and a lot smaller than most typical mobile hotspots. The device measures just 2.6″ x 2.6″ x 0.3″ and weighs just 2.1oz, so you’ll easily forget that it’s in your bag. Unfortunately, there is no dedicated display on the Karma, but it’s easy enough to use with dedicated power, Wi-Fi and 4G indicator lights.
Setting up the Karma hotspot is super simple and requires getting a Karma hotspot account. We even received 1GB of free data at sign up, which is standard with each Karma hotspot purchase. Of course, you can easily earn additional 100MB buckets of data by sharing your hotspot with others. But there is also an affordable pay-as-you-go option. 1GB will cost you $14, 5GB will cost you $59, and you can get 10GB of data for $99, so basically the bigger the data package you purchase upfront, the more of a discount you’re receiving. But perhaps best of all is the fact that these data packages never expire – at least not until you use them up!
“Earn FREE data when someone joins your Karma hotspot. Now that’s good karma.“
Ever wonder whatever happened to Clearwire? Well it’s their 4G wireless Wimax network that is powering the Karma hotspot. The good news is that we saw healthy and reliable speeds of 11.12 Mbps down and 1.33 Mbps up in midtown Manhattan. The bad news, is that Clearwire’s coverage is not super expansive, and it’s very city centric. It’s also not quite as fast as LTE. That said, before you consider getting a Karma Hotspot for yourself, you’re going to really want to check the coverage areas first where you plan on using the hotspot most. Even in Manhattan, there are a few pockets here and there which lack Wimax coverage.
Overall, the Karma Hotspot is aptly named. It encourages you to share and rewards you for doing so. We love how compact the hotspot is, how easy it is to use, and that its data never expires. We also find its data to be reliable where it’s available. That said, in an age of smartphones that offer hotspot functionality, using any hotspot nowadays does beg the question of whether they are necessary at all. But encouraging users to share, certainly does make a mobile hotspot more enticing. Overall, our biggest grope with the Karma hotspot is that the Clearwire Wi-max coverage is a bit limiting, and we wish the device had support to roam on Sprint’s data network. In any case, Karma has come out with a super solid and affordable product – and concept – that will make you want to use a hotspot again. Just remember guys, sharing is caring!
The Karma hotspot retails for $99 and comes with 1GB of free data.
The Good: Your data never expires, good battery life, really – really small and compact device, get bonuses for sharing + free 1GB of data with sign up, up to 8 connections supported simultaneously, easy to use and set up, affordable data packages and pricing for the hotspot, you can pay for data with PayPal – or even Bitcoin currency!
The Bad: No display, limited coverage – it supports WiMAX only which has limited coverage / wish it had roaming option to roam onto Sprint’s 3G or 4G network, perhaps not the most secure form of mobile data, can only purchase online
Update 12/22/2014: Karma has announced plans to expand its network in 2014 to include Sprint’s up and coming 4G LTE network, which will include 230 U.S. cities. Customers who currently own a Karma hotspot will receive exclusive upgrade options to the 4G LTE network in the future.