I've been holding off on buying a Wi-Fi hotspot for a while now. I'm not sure why, probably because I'm stubborn, but recently I found Your Karma and it seemed just the right fit.
Your Karma has a few good ideas going for it. For example, the features that caught my eye, is the pay as you go plan, a simple device to provide the connection, and a share and earn service.
1. Pay as you go plan
I didn't have a hotspot before, so I didn't know how much I was going to use. If I went with the big carriers, should I pay the 30,40,50 bucks for a 2 gig service. What if I use under 2 gigs? Do I save it up each month and roll it over? What happens if I go over 2 gigs? Will it cost me an arm and a leg? These are the questions, that led me to continually wait and wait and wait.
Your Karma cuts through all of those questions by charging a simple flat rate of $14 / gig. Take as long as you want to use it up. Or use it as little as you want. If you need a lot more that a single gig, you can buy in bulk and get some savings by buying 5 or 10 gigs at a time.
2. Simple Device
The hotspot from Your Karma is a really simple device to use. It's a 2" by 2" by 1/2" device. It has a micro-usb charging port, a power button, and 3 blinky lights.
The 3 blinky lights indicate if the power is on, the Wi-Fi is active, and if the 4g is active. Each day when I use it, I just press the power on. Wait until the lights are green and start using it.
3. Share with friends, earn free service
As a hotspot, I could try to secure things, but if I leave it open, I get the chance of sharing with my friends, neighbors, and complete strangers. Why would I do that? Well first, it doesn't cost me anything. As they surf on my hotspot, my usage isn't charged. They have to go out and get their own Karma accounts. The advantage for me is that with each new user on my hotspot, I receive and additional 100MB of data usage free. So being friendly with strangers can actually give real benefits.
To get started, you'll need to go to the yourkarma.com website and purchase a device and some initial GB of usage. A few days after ordering it will arrive. Open it up and make sure it's charged. Press the power button and wait until you see the lights for Wi-Fi and 4g go green.
When they do, open a browser and navigate to http://192.168.1.1. When you do, you'll see device's webpage and you'll see it connect to the yourkarma.com site and register the device with your account.
So far, it has been a really positive experience. I've been using it on the DC metro every day and speed of setup and performance has been great. Opening web pages is responsive and feels like I'm using my high-speed wired connection at home.
Coverage is a bit of an issue. I recently took a train from Washington, DC to Chicago, IL and I was looking forward to using Karma to share the Internet with the family on each of their devices. Maybe watch some Netflix.
Unfortunately, as soon as you get outside of the major cities, the coverage becomes non-existent. I got coverage in DC, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland, but nowhere in-between. The device also does not fall back to a lower level service like your mobile phone would normally do. One of the reasons that the device is so small and has such good battery life, is that it is based solely on the WiMAX service provided by Clear Wire communication.
If you are looking for a high-speed device with a pay-as-you-go plan, definitely consider Your Karma, but check to make sure the coverage is right for you.