Need a Wi-Fi hotspot that doesn't tie you into a long-term contract? The folks at Karma have a new device that uses 4G LTE.
Currently available for preorder, the new Karma Go normally runs for $149, but you can score it for $99 if you order within the next 29 days. Those of you who already own a Karma device can save further through an upgrade discount. The company promises that the new hotspot will ship in December.
The new Karma Go hotspot taps into Sprint's 4G LTE network. As such, the device is an upgrade over the previous model, which instead used Sprint's 4G WiMax network. With WiMax having lost the 4G standards battle to LTE, the new Karma model should offer better coverage across the nation.
Karma avoids the usual monthly fees and long-term contracts imposed by other Wi-Fi hotspot vendors. Instead, you pay only for the data you use at a rate starting at $14 upfront for 1GB. But that data never expires, so it carries over from month to month until you use it up. Karma promises that the more data you buy upfront, the more money you can save. As one example cited by TechCrunch, if you buy 10GB upfront, you pay just $9.90 per GB.
You can also snag more data by sharing your hotspot with other Karma users. When activated, your hotspot creates an "open" signal that other people nearby can use. If a fellow Karma user taps into your hotspot, you both win an extra 100GB of data. In other words, sharing creates good karma on both ends.
The Karma hotspot can handle up to eight devices at one time, so you can connect your laptop, phone, and tablet, and still have room for five more gadgets.
Since the Karma sends out its "open" signal by default, that process can naturally raise privacy concerns. What if you don't want some stranger hopping onto your hotspot? You can't currently remove devices from your Karma or block people from joining, though the company said it might add such a feature in the future.
The Karma Go provides up to 220 hours of battery life in standby mode, or 5 hours during normal use, according to TechCrunch. The device offers download speeds of 6-8 megabits per second and upload speeds of 2-3 Mbps.