I'm somewhat obsessive about traveling light, but there's one item I won't travel without: my mobile hotspot. I can't tell you how often that little guy has come in handy -- usually in hotels that charge extra for Wi-Fi or have weak signals, but also when I'm sitting in a park or even working in the backseat of a moving minivan.
Sure, many smartphones can perform mobile-hotspot duty, but it's a pretty big battery suck and and it often costs extra. Plus, sometimes it's good to have a second option powered by a different network, just in case your phone isn't pulling down sufficient bars.
But another contract or pricey monthly bill? Uh, no. That's why I'm liking this new deal: StackSocial has the Karma
Pro Go LTE hotspot and 1GB of data for $99 shipped. Update: I inadvertently referred to this as the Karma Pro; the correct product name is Karma Go.
Important note No. 1: Although the promo page says you get 200MB of free data, you, as a Cheapskate reader, will be upgraded to 1GB soon after setting up your Karma account. (See the terms and conditions section for proof of this.) Woot!
Important note No. 2: This is a preorder; the units aren't due to ship until December. So why not just wait? Because this is the only place to score a whole gigabyte of bonus data to get you started. What's more, the Karma Pro itself will sell for $149 once it starts shipping.
The original Karma had limited appeal, as it worked only in cities with access to the Clearwire network. The slim, compact
Pro Go taps Sprint's 4G LTE network (or 3G as needed), effectively delivering nationwide coverage.
Better still, you pay no monthly fees for the hotspot. Instead, you pay for just the data you consume, at a very competitive rate of $14 per gigabyte (or as low as $10/GB if you prepurchase). You can also earn free data (100MB per user) by sharing your service with nearby strangers (who also get 100MB each). The Karma
Pro Go supports up to eight simultaneous connections.
As I noted last time out, this strikes me as a little weird. Aren't we all programmed to avoid potentially unsafe open Wi-Fi networks, especially with names like "Free Karma WiFi"? I suppose the more people who at least know Karma exists, the more this sharing will catch on. In any case, see Karma's help page for more info on this. My advice: don't count on a lot of free data.
But do count on speedy, affordable Internet access where and when you need it. By the way, the 1GB bonus won't expire on you, so don't feel rushed to burn through it in the first month. Rather, you might be able to stretch it out over several months.
If you don't already own a device like this and frequently find yourself wishing for Wi-Fi, grab this sweet deal.
Bonus deal: Hey, remember that big ol' SSD from earlier this week? Great deal, but it came without any software for migrating your stuff. Bam! Problem solved: Today only, BitsDuJour has Paragon Drive Copy 14 Compact (Win) for free. The utility offers a wealth of drive-migration options, with support for HDDs, SSDs, and even virtual machines. I'm pretty sure this is the same as the $39.95 Pro version (Paragon doesn't list a "Compact" edition on its site), just without tech support and upgrades.
Bonus deal No. 2: In case you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out "Lost in Shangri-La," a book I couldn't put down. It's free for iBooks and Kindle.. And if you're not an iOS or iBooks user, no worries -- many of those same titles are also free for Kindle. For example, anyone who's interested in World War II or just loves true stories of adventure and survival should check out
Bonus deal No. 3: Game time! If you like your shooters first-person, Bundle Stars has the FPS Redux Bundle for $3.99, a collection that includes a whopping 10 titles. It's mostly indie fare, but with at least one notable inclusion: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, a visually striking game that costs $9.99 on its own.
Oh, last thing, small favor: I'm trying to gently cajole Random Trek podcast host Scott McNulty into having me on as a guest. If you'd like to hear me talk Trek in a future episode (and who wouldn't?!), please ping Scott (@blankbaby) with a message like, "We want Rick Broida!" Also: listen to Random Trek. It's awesome.