The Microsoft Band is a wonderful fitness device and offers features that the majority of other wearable vendors fail to deliver. One of those is the ability to take runs and bike rides without having to carry along a smartphone just for GPS facilities. The Microsoft Band has GPS built into it, allowing fitness freaks like me to hit the road without worrying about strapping a smartphone to an arm or carrying it in hand.
However, I hear from Band owners periodically who like to blame a shoddy GPS chip for their GPS connections woes. People tend to forget that a GPS signal presents problems all its own. Think about renting a car while traveling out of town and how long the built-in GPS takes to snag a signal every time the car is started up. You literally have to wait 5 to 10 minutes sometimes before you can drive off to your destination just so you won’t get lost. And, depending on where you are, the GPS signal can tank periodically due to poor satellite positioning or an obstructed signal.
The Band is no different and there is at least one issue unique to it. Here’s some reasons why your Band might not connect right away or could lose signal. And, keep in mind, these same issues (except for the first one) will affect any GPS-capable device.
- Recent firmware installation. The Microsoft Band tends to cache location information, helping the device to connect quicker later on. If you’ve recently applied a firmware update, this cached information has been erased and the first time you try to connect it will take longer. After a firmware update, I’ve had the Band take up to 15 minutes before connecting the first time. After the first connection, it will connect within 3 minutes or so when in the same general geographic area.
- GPS signal not strong enough. I’ve been to locations where the GPS signal is so strong it connects within a few seconds (of note, Emeryville, CA is one of those locations). Where I live it takes about 3 minutes each time – even if I’ve connected before. SW Ohio is just not a priority for a GPS signal.
- GPS chip can’t triangulate. Most GPS devices are designed to locate at least 3 satellites to triangulate position (hence the term “tri”angulate). And, this is really related to GPS satellite positioning, and possibly weather conditions.
- Contrary radio emissions or intentional or unintentional jamming. There’s a couple places around where I live where I actually lose the GPS signal. I’ve noted where those are located so I try to avoid those areas during runs. This is not unique to the Band, I experienced this long before I owned the Band and used Runtastic to track runs. In one instance, the GPS signal gets jammed, I believe, due to a type of security system.
- Local weather or space weather conditions. Yep…just like can happen to DirectTV or Dish programming, local weather or unseen space weather can have an adverse effect on a GPS signal.
GPS is a useful tool particularly for those seeking the freedom of extra gadgets when exercising. But, it’s not perfect. Some owning a Microsoft Band would rather blame the wearable than think there might be other factors involved. I’ve seen a couple instances where a couple irate Band owners returned their wearables only to find that a different GPS fitness device had the same the exact same problems. It turned out that their areas just had diminished or weak GPS signals. Even the most trusted GPS fitness device (Garmin) had problems.
Be patient with your Microsoft Band GPS signal, particularly after a firmware update. Once you connect that first time, each subsequent time should be better and quicker since the device caches location to help minimize the other factors that can be a potential cause.
Additionally, here's a couple tips for getting the GPS signal to lock quicker: