I’d been anxiously awaiting my Karma Go since I pre-ordered it back in November of 2014. The devices were suppose to start shipping in Q1 of 2015, but due to some manufacturing setbacks and approvals they did not begin shipping until mid-summer.
Between “Amazon Prime Day” and receiving my Karma shipment notification I felt like Christmas was already here.
I had high hopes for Karma as I had previously tried similar services before with crappy service or refurbished equipment (ahem FreedomPop).
Services like Verizon or AT&T are fine for road warriors but I wanted something for occasional use and family travel.
Would Karma Go live up to my expectations? Only time will tell for sure. But here are my first impressions of Karma Go.
Not including the time Karma tortured me by making me wait so long while they were manufacturing the device, the shipping time from the warehouse on the West Coast to my home on the East Coast was less than a week.
Also, Karma did communicate well with the people that pre-ordered with monthly status emails and gave us a few opportunities to pre-purchase data at half price. I stocked up.
Presentation and Design
I was very impressed with the design and presentation of the Karma Go, and so was my wife (she appreciates clean design even more than I).
The device itself came with a grey wool sleeve for protection. It has only one button and 5 indicator lights.
The materials feel very sturdy and it looks as though it was well manufactured.
The charge cable is a minimal-looking USB cable that magnetically connects both ends when not in use and also allows you to tame the cable with a loop connector.
It also came with some stickers for you sticker heads. I knew this would be my 3-year-old son’s favorite part.
User-Friendliness and Simplicity
The only instructions were a couple of cards that explain power on, power off, sleep mode, signal strength, and mobile apps.
The single button leaves little to the imagination. Hold the power button equals power on or off. Press the power button for a second or so when the device is on and it will go to sleep to conserve battery.
Green indicator light means the device is on. Red indicator light means it is off. White means that it is asleep. The 3 middle indicator lights are the signal strength.
The best part is that the lights flicker Knight Rider style. This alone makes me want to power the device on and off constantly.
Functionality & Service
Although I appreciate the simplicity of the Karma Go, I do not like that I cannot set a password on the Wi-Fi, nor rename the device to something like “FBI Surveillance Van” to keep the gold diggers away.
But in terms of a LTE hotspot, the device and network performance was on point.
(Image Coming Soon)
The advertised battery life of the Karma Go is about 5 hours. In my initial tests that seems to be about right. Of course I have only tested this in places with powerful signal strength.
I have not tested if the standby really lasts the 220 hours as it is typically just easier to turn the device off.
I purchased the Karma Go on pre-sale for $99 but I think it runs for $150 now. This isn’t bad considering that most of the big guys like AT&T will charge you a couple hundred bucks for a low end device and lock you into a $50 per month contract for 24 months. Ouch.
The data plans for the Karma are very affordable. $59 for 5 Gigs and $99 for 10 Gigs. The best part is that the data never expires. Other companies’ plans typically do expire each month – even the pre-paid ones.
At first blush, Karma Go seems like a fantastic option for road warriors and casual users alike. The service seems up-to-par with the big boys like Verizon (thus far in my limited tests). The design and character rivals that of an Apple product (love them or hate them). The data plans are super affordable. And battery life is reasonably good so far.
The biggest scars on the Karma Go is lack of ability to rename your device and set a password on the Wi-Fi. So if you are hanging out in places with lots of freeloaders or worst yet, with several other people with Karmas, things could get crazy.
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