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External GPS and Surface RT


New Member
The other day, as I was trying to connect my external Bluetooth GPS puck (Keychain Freedom GPS 2000) to my Surface RT, I found something a bit puzzling to me.

While the Bluetooth device connected easily enough, and says it's working properly (Connected via Bluetooth SPP - Serial Port Protocol), there apparently is no current mapping software for the Surface RT with support for GPS (at least via SPP).

Apparently this is because none of the currently available apps have declared the SPP as a possible source for location data. Not sure I understand why, because the option appears to exist in the Windows RT Geolocation API and, judging from the results of my Bing and Google searches, other people also would like to use this functionality.

What I really don't understand is why a GPS wasn't built in to this device. It can't be cost. My wife's Samsung Galaxy SII Tab 7 (or something like that) has a GPS, and we bought that at Best Buy for $199 plus tax.

In any case, has anyone found a combination of GPS hardware and mapping software that will work on the Surface RT?


Super Moderator
I don't have any apps to recommend but it sounds like you and others interested need to contact the map companies and favorite developers to express interest in RT apps.

As far as including GPS or not, it is a calculated cost. It certainly adds to the cost of the device but how much depends on may factors. It might include actual chip cost, design cost, software cost, battery life and supply cost. It is possible that all of the capacity for chips including GPS is already being taken up by all the other devices that include it (phones primarily). MS is using Marvell for its chips and they went with MIMO wifi, bluetooth, FM instead. They probably figured dual band wifi and bluetooth were going to be primary use case and just left it at that.


New Member
I too have been searching for external GPS navigation. It's the only functionality I have not been able to bring from my old XP laptop retired in favor of the Surface RT. When I attached my Delorme USB GPS, the Surface recognized the device and said it loaded drivers successfully, but I've not found any app that utilizes GPS to confirm if it really is working. I contacted Delorme and inquired about a metro app for Surface and they replied they were not pursuing anything for Win RT at that time.
It's a shame, with the small form factor and great battery life of the Surface, I consider it an ideal large screen mobile GPS/navigation platform.


Well-Known Member
IMO there are too many other GPS solutions available. The RT cannot be everything to everybody.


Super Moderator
Show the gps companies enough demand though and they will respond. If you setup an automated petition or something to ping Dolorme you might have success.


Super Moderator
Somewhat related.



New Member
IMO there are too many other GPS solutions available. The RT cannot be everything to everybody.

My first though is to ask you why? Why (In terms of GPS) can't the RT be everything to everybody? There are plenty of tablets that offer Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and integral GPS; and do so at less expense than purchasing a Surface RT, much less the Pro.
I find your response to be condescending, ill-informed, empty of any positive ideas and off-topic. The topic here isn't "Pros & Cons about GPS" but rather "External GPS and the Surface RT".
There are many reasons for having a GPS in a tablet; indeed the tablet is a perfect (though not singularly so) form for utilizing GPS. The real beauty in the tablet form is that a person can finally stop lugging their laptop about on a daily basis. Tablets don't provide all the functionality of a laptop or desktop, but they are wonderful adjuncts to those forms of computing, and so much easier to tote around.
Having purchased 10 tablets in the past 18 months, the Surface is the only one that we cannot simply tap one icon to bring up a navigable map, and tell, not type, but tell it to locate a destination, whereupon it near instantaneously maps it out, provides a printable turn-by-turn summary and talks to us as we follow the directions. All of this on GPS. Just like MS Streets-and-Trips on laptops.
A Garmin 5-inch may be easier for driving, but once at a destination the tablet form factor is ideal for tourist or businessman. Tablets are so ubiquitous that people don't give it a thought when someone whips one out now and once GPS information has been worked out on the tablet, Wi-Fi is inconsequential as is cell service when unable to use it, i.e. in another country or out in the country side. But the GPS chip works just fine, and is far easier to see that a $600 hand held GPS unit.
I can put a 5-inch auto GPS in a pocket, but it primarily shows only a path to follow, which is great; however the screen expanse of a table makes it easier to see that path in relation to surroundings.
So I hope that you can understand that other GPS units aside, there are times when a tablet fits the bill optimally


New Member
Let me preface this remark by stating that I am new to this forum, and indeed, new to posting anything anywhere. SO if I sound naïve or am posting something that is redundant here or in another thread, please bear with me.

Not having a GPS was going to be a deal-breaker for me on this Surface RT. I came to the Surface because my beautiful new TF600 had a screen flaw in it that showed up after several months and made it unusable. I was able to return it and swap it directly for a 64GB Surface RT which I have decided to keep, even without an integral GPS. I'm not happy about no GPS, and never will be; however The slightly bigger screen size, 64 GB, a usb port on the tablet and a type keyboard for the price I paid for the TF600 won me over. A week after I made this swap, the TF600 appeared back on the market and as far as I am able to surmise, the issue has been corrected.

The first thing I did upon unboxing the Surface RT, was to plug in a MS Streets-and-Trips branded Pharos GPS-500 siri III, and Lo-and-Behold, almost all the little map programs I downloaded on this Surface located me. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth were turned off for this experiment. N.B. Surface identifies this MS GPS device as unable to utilize but it works. Later today I am going to follow the map using KML Viewer as well as a few other mapping programs I have downloaded, including MS Maps. Unfortunately all these programs first require a connection to download their maps. Once in the car, Wi-Fi will be turned off and hopefully I will be able to use the information, including crumb tracking.

If memory serves, KML is a format used by the OpenMaps community. I know that there are downloads for Garmin which can be used in conjunction with an external Micro SD Card installed into the device. OpenMaps has downloadable maps for the entire USA as well as Mexico and the countries of Central and South America, and probably for large parts of the rest of the world.

Seems to me that here is the solution to a lack of GPS in the Surface: an external device, either usb or Bluetooth (to which I cannot speak) and an entire library of maps downloaded to the device or loaded onto a Micro SD Card to plug-into the Surface. I see a huge opportunity for some GPS mapping company (Are you listening Garmin, Delorme, Magellan, et.al.?) or astute programmer to cash in here.

The MS Store has a couple thousand choices show up when searching GPS mapping. I have no idea how to intelligently search for a program having downloaded maps in that 2,000 plus apps.

Obviously external GPS works with the Surface RT. YES it is a lousy solution to have to piggy-back onto the tablet.

All that is lacking is an internal map database usable by Pharos or Delorme or whatever, which is usable by the RT Tablet to free one from a Wi-Fi necessity.


New Member
<snip>The MS Store has a couple thousand choices show up when searching GPS mapping. I have no idea how to intelligently search for a program having downloaded maps in that 2,000 plus apps.

You must have been mistaken. Check again. There is less than a dozen apps for this purpose and mostly are crap for indie developers. The Maps application may be useful, depending on the region, and from where I am it is useless.

Maps and Here Maps on my Windows Phone 8S is what I use, no need for a GPS device. Heck, even my HTC One V on Android running Route 66 (Nokia Navteq) does the job pretty well. All these solutions are far better than Google (except for POIs) and routing is even better.

If I *must* use my Surface RT, I run HERE (Nokia) and get the job done. The external GPS may help it, but definitely not needed for most purpose (getting from point A to point B).


New Member
I have wished for GPS as well. That and no pen are my biggest disappointments with RT. GPS is the only thing I missed when I switched from the iPad2. I guess you cant have it all...
My phone works great for mapping, but it is SO much better on a bigger screen. Surface RT is great on the road - maps and navigation could be part of that. I would love to find a little GPS box to connect up and make it work. You could even put it on your dash or elsewhere for a better signal.