This is an update of a deal I wrote about last year. Now it's even better.
By now most of you have heard of FreedomPop. The company started out offering tempting goodies like Clearwire-powered 4G service with a "free" mobile hot spot and 500MB of data per month, with the option of earning extra by referring friends.
Say hello to the competition. Karma offers a Clearwire-powered 4G mobile hot spot with 1GB of free data, with the option of earning extra by referring....strangers.
Say what? Here's the deal: StackSocial has the Karma WiFi HotSpot for $64.86 shipped when you apply coupon code bf-sixer at checkout. (Point of interest: that code is good for six percent off any StackSocial purchase.)
That compact, 2.1-ounce hot spot, which can share its 4G goodness with up to eight devices, comes with 1GB of data that doesn't expire. Alas, that's not 1GB per month, but 1GB, period. Depending on how much you travel and how many Netflix movies you stream, that could last you several weeks or a couple hours.
In any case, after you blow through your initial gigabyte, you'll pay $14 for each additional gigabyte -- a reasonable rate compared with what other carriers charge.
However, and here's where it gets interesting, whenever you fire up your hot spot, it creates an "open and branded" (to you) signal that anyone around you can use. If and when someone does connect to your network, you'll both get 100MB of data. That's the "karma."
Obviously this raises some questions. Will people be willing to connect to an unknown network when they've been cautioned to avoid them? And what about security -- for you and for them? Karma addresses the latter issue (among others) on its Help Center page, but I really have to wonder if anyone will trust a hot spot called, say, "Rick's Karma." Or "Free WiFi come on in!" Another potential downside for some folks:
using Karma requires a Facebook account. (Update: Karma no longer requires Facebook integration.)
The good news is that there's no contract required, and all your accumulated (or paid-for) data rolls over, so you don't have to worry about "expired" data going to waste (which is something I've always hated). Karma alerts you when you're getting low on data and asks you to confirm before charging you for more.
Alas, although Clearwire is available in some 80 cities, metro Detroit isn't one of them. That leaves me out. Needless to say, you'll want to check coverage for your area before ordering.
On the surface, this looks like some pretty good Karma. Although it would be nice to have at least some guaranteed free data per month, as with FreedomPop, the rates are more than reasonable, and you're not on the hook for yet another two-year agreement.
Bonus deal: Like free cloud storage? Of course you do. Bitcasa, which aims to "extend" your desktop storage with automated, mirrored online space, has one of the best interfaces I've tried, and you can get a free 5GB account just for signing up. And if you have lots of friends (or a well-trafficked blog), you can nab up to 25GB of total free space via referrals. Seriously, Bitcasa's browser interface blows Dropbox's out of the water. Give it a try.
Bonus deal No. 2: We all know the
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