Share Karma's Wi-Fi, get free data

Culture
The best things in life are free. I'm Bridget Carey and this is your CNET Update. It's the last update show of the year. So, let's jump in with a new device that could change the way you pay for internet access. Karma is a 4G mobile hotspot that uses the Clearwire WiMax network. Anyone who buys this $80-hotspot can get free data for every person that hops on and uses it. That's why they call it Karma. If you let someone connect to your hotspot, the network gives both of you 100 megabytes of data. If you wanna save money, that means you need more people to connect to your network. But, of course, we've all been taught to not trust strange Wi-Fi hotspots. So, if you just go to a coffee shop or an airport, would people even wanna connect to your Karma? Connecting to the hotspot requires signing in with a Facebook account. So, maybe that will discourage people from connecting, but there are some good points. There's no contract and the data you accumulate never expires. If you don't have people to connect with, you'll have to pay $14 for 1 giga data which is still quite cheap. If you travel often, this is an easy device to take around and just load up data when you need it. It is impractical though if you're always streaming movies and using things like Netflix or online gaming at home. In a previous show, I discussed a similar product from FreedomPop. Buying the home router will get you 1 gigabyte a data for free every month, but users can also earn more data for free by referring friends. The network for both of these services is Clearwire and it's in about 80 metro cities. I've used the network's hotspot in New York and found it to be reliable and good speed for everyday web browsing. There's also been an interesting development in the traditional television space. The company Aereo lets users watch live broadcast TV on the internet for a small fee. Network operators have sued Aereo because it doesn't pay for stations that are broadcast for you over the airwaves and those law suits are still ongoing. But now, the company has its first cable TV station partner, Bloomberg TV. For $8 a month, users could even record live TV to watch shows later like a DVR. Right now, only New Yorkers can access Aereo, but the service plans to expand to 15 other cities early next year. And, if you're in need of a gift idea or need to give something at the last minute, you can pull out your iPhone and quickly send someone an app. iOS 6 users now can gift an app to someone right from the App Store. You can't give an Android app as a gift but there's always gift cards or the Google Play store. And if you know someone with an eReader or a tablet, you can gift an e-book for the Kindle and Nook. That's your tech news update. You can get links to all of the stories I mentioned on our blog, cnet.com/update. The show returns the 1st week of January as we gear up for the biggest tech conference, the Consumer Electronics Show. Thanks for watching and Happy Holidays. From our studios in New York, I'm Bridget Carey. See you in 2013.

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