FirstLook: Karma HotSpot with Social Bandwidth
- Company: Karma
- Model: Karma Wi-Fi hotspot
- Size: 2.6 x 2.6 x .5 inch
- Weight: 2.1oz
- Price: $79
- Website: www.yourkarma.com
Having the ability to create a WiFi network wherever and whenever you need it is great, but prices nows days can cost you. With most Hotspots and Phone tethering requiring expensive plans. Most people don't use up all their data every month and this is a big waist. Karma sets out to fix that with its Social Bandwidth. Karma creates a portable WiFi hotspot that anyone can connect to. For every new users that connotes to your hotspot your both rewarded with an additional 100mb's of free data. On top of this social aspect this little WiFi hot spot uses a PayAsYouGo business model that never expires. Pay for your data and use it when you want.
The thought of this new social bandwidth business model certainly turning things on its side.
I was very excited when that little brown box from Karma showed up on my door step. Upon opening I was surprised their was no real packaging. However it does makes sense for them to save some money here since you can only purchase Karma online. Included in the box was setup instructions, a USB to micro USB cable and the Karma unit. When I removed the Karma hotspot from the box I was surprised as to how small it actually was. I've seen pictures of it they doesn't do it justice. In comparison I would says it's the same size as the FreedomPop or close to the same thickness as an iPhone5 and half its length.
On the front of the Karma There are 3 LED lights indicating Power, Wifi 4G as well a button which powers the unit on and off. Their is a micro USB jack with a cover used to charge the it on the back.
Features & Specs:
- 4G Data (WiMAX internet service)
- Average speeds 3-6mb down and 1.5mb up
- Hotspot range 100 feet
- Battery life 6-8 Hours
- Data never expires
Final Thoughts: (after a week of use)
After using Karma for a week I will say I love the small design and the fact your data never expires makes this a great backup unit.
The social aspect of this sounds good out the gate but what they don't make realy clear is Only new sign ups gets you the free 100mb's of data. Originally I thought college dorms and big public settings would make this awesome. Which it does for the first month or so until everyone who is going to try Karma has and your out of new users. Don't get me wrong if you travel a lot and constantly find yourself in new area's this maybe good for your. The idea of social is to reward you for keeping your Karma constantly on and available. Their comes a point of negative returns with its current configuration. I feel their should be other social rewards as well. Example "If you get more then 20/40/50 individual connections in a month you would be rewarded with XXX free data" New users are good but cab only get you so far.
Karma is also currently limited to WiMAX internet provider. You do get about 6Mbs down and 1.5Mbs up. Which is not that bad for average day to day stuff. At $14 for 1Gb I would like a little more. If this was LTE I would be happy at this price point. The big thing here is your data never expires which is huge. This is a great selling point but hard to sell if your other features are falling behind your competitors.
All in all this is a great Version 1 product. I am excited to see where Karma will go from here. Karma would make a good acquisition for Att or Verizon. However I don't see them switching to Karma's business model. Since they already got people willing to lock them selves into monthly plans. With that being said this is the perfect if you're looking for a backup hotspot. Assuming your coverage is supported (check first). Its great because you can throw a few Gb's of data on it and forget about it. T
The lack of LTE and the negative returns with social bandwidth prevents me from giving up my iPhone tethering with Att. I would love to just pay for what I used while not worrying about it expiring rather then paying $50 a month for 5Gbs
Disappointments: (small nit-picking)
- United states coverage only
- No LTE (Spoke with Karma and it's in the works and it will require a new unit when the time comes)
- Could use more social incentives