Q: If you had to pick a walking-tour-guide GPS for a first-timer walking in New York City, but wanted to use a basic GPS auto navigation system, what would you buy? Are crossover systems any good? We are visiting NYC for Valentines Day weekend and don't want to get lost! --Bill via e-mail
A: Bill, I've found that crossover GPS units aren't exactly what they advertise. These portable navigation devices, such as the Magellan CrossoverGPS and Garmin Nuvi 500, try to be all-in-one GPS solutions for drivers, boaters, and outdoor enthusiasts. However, it's been my experience that while they're decent navigators for the car, when it comes to other modes of transportation, you're better going with a dedicated GPS for that specific activity.
That said, all hope is not lost for you. Since you're looking for something to navigate the streets of New York City and not the back country, you can probably get away with a basic in-car GPS. I'd recommend something small and basic like the TomTom One 130S or the Garmin Nuvi 200, since it will be easy to walk around with and then slip into a pocket or bag. With the Nuvi 200, you can also purchase the Garmin Travel Guide SD card that comes loaded with recommendations and ratings for hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, and more, all provided by Fodor's travel guides. The accessory costs $70, but includes data for all of North America.
Another suggestion I have is that if you have a cell phone or smartphone with integrated GPS, you can add a location-based service like TeleNav to get real-time tracking, turn-by-turn directions, and local search. There are a couple of advantages with this option. First, you wouldn't have to carry another device and a cell phone is ultra-portable. You can purchase the location-based services on a per-day basis (or per-month if you wish), so this option could also save you some money.
Hope this helps, Bill, and have a wonderful Valentine's Day in NYC!