Our readers understand the importance of connectivity, because having access to the Internet has become a huge part of our lives; that’s why we pay a fortune for mobile data plans, and then we pay even more to connect additional devices. Karma Wi-Fi takes a different approach that is less expensive and surprisingly social.
A quick visit to the Karma Wi-Fi website, and you get an immediate sense of what this product is all about. Splashed across the screen are the words,
WiFi made for sharing. Earn free data when someone joins your Karma hotspot. Now that’s good karma.
The company website goes on to say, “With Karma, you pay for data as you go, and take it with you on your 4G mobile hotspot. Post pics to Facebook. Catch up with the news. The video chat with your kids. You know what to do.” That pretty much explains what this is all about.
Karma sells a hotspot that is a cute little disk of white. It is simple to use and offers excellent battery life. On a full charge, the hotspot will keep you connected for 6 to 8 hours. When the battery runs down, you can simply charge it from any device that allows you to connect a microUSB cord to it. That means you can charge off your mobile device adapter, charge from your laptop, or charge from an external battery if you happen to carry one. There’s nothing to fuss with. Just charge the hotspot, turn it on and go.
The hotspot, which is 2.6 inches long and wide and just .5 inches high weighs just over 2 ounces and is rather elegant in its simplicity. Don’t let that simple appearance fool you however – the Karma hotspot can connect up to eight devices simultaneously. That means you can have the hotspot with you and your friends and family can all jump online using it. As we shall see in a moment, that’s an important part of this ecosystem.
The Karma hotspot runs on the Clearwire 4G network. It’s currently available in 80 US cities, and it covers about 135 million people; it is expanding at a fairly rapid pace.
The Karma hotspot ecosystem is a pay-as-you-go system. It costs $14 for a single gigabyte of data (the hotspot comes with one to start you off), and that data remains good as long as you have your hotspot and are part of their system. That means you won’t buy a gigabyte of data on the first of the month and lose the remainder 30 days later as you do with some other pay per use systems. Once you buy the data, it is yours to keep and use.
And did I mention it’s fast? With the hotspot you’ll see speeds of about 3 to 6 mbps when downloading with spikes of 10 MB mbps or higher. When you upload files, you should see about 1.5 mbps, which is about what I just saw at home when I tested my wireless speeds. Not bad for a mobile device.
All of this makes the Karma hotspot a compelling prospect if you live in an area served by the clear wired network. The hotspot is simple to use and looks great. It offers decent battery life and is easy to recharge. The data is affordable and doesn’t expire, and you can connect up to eight devices at a time. In addition, the Karma Wi-Fi hotspot is just $99 and comes with 1 GB of data already available to you. Additional data is $28 for 2 GB, $50 for 5 GB or hundred and $80 for 20 GB. All of this makes Karma worth your consideration if you are having a monthly heart attacks when your wireless bill arrives.
But there is another reason you should check out the Karma Wi-Fi hotspot – because it’s social Wi-Fi that benefits you.
Yes, anyone else who needs to get online can actually jump onto your hotspot and use it to get online. They’ll use your connection, but not your data since they’ll have to pay for their own. (Just $14 for 1 GB.) Where this becomes interesting is that by sharing your Karma Wi-Fi hotspot connection, you aren’t being selfless – when someone connects to your Karma hotspot you get 100 MB of data for free. In addition, the data that they purchased when using your Karma hotspot remains in their Karma account. That way they can connect to any other Karma hotspot and use their data. In other words, the more people who share your Karma, the more data you get for free; the more people using Karma hotspots, the bigger the network of available Karma Wi-Fi will become. It’s a great concept that meets many needs, and it does so with a degree of simplicity and elegance that is sure to impress.
There is a lot to like about the Karma Wi-Fi hotspot ecosystem. There are, however, some issues with it. The biggest, of course, is the issue of coverage. As you can see, a quick check of their coverage map revealed the following –
My home isn’t covered by this wireless system. Then again, AT&T doesn’t cover my house either; that’s why I have to rely on a microcell in order to make and receive cellphone calls at home.
It turns out, however, that my synagogue is covered. That means the device is useful in and around the location where I spend most of my days. And, if I am in Manhattan – which happens rather often – the hotspot will work perfectly.
This map reveals the issue. I live on the left side of the map where there is no coverage. I work on the right side of the map where there is coverage, so this device is useful to me. It would however be far more useful if the entire map reflected coverage, and that is not yet the case. Hopefully that will happen in the relatively near future, but until then I will be keeping a charged Karma hotspot in my gear back and pulling it out whenever I don’t feel like burning my AT&T data.
You can learn more about the Karma WiFi hotspot, and order yours here.
MSRP: $99 for hotspot and 1GB of data
What I Like: Simple, easy-to-use hotspot; No contract; Pay as you go; Data does not expire; Up to 8 people can connect at once; You earn data when people use your hotspot
What Needs Improvement: Coverage is limited but expanding
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample