Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot

Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot

Whew, it has been a while. I’m here to give a quick overview of the Google Home Mini compared to the Amazon Echo Dot.

After using the Amazon Echo Dot for the past 1+ years, the Google Home Mini (and other versions of the Google Home) win for a few reasons.

  1. The speaker and sound quality of the Google Home Mini are better than the Amazon Echo Dot. You could almost use it as an everyday speaker if you’re not throwing a party and have relatively quiet surroundings.
  2. You can make phone calls using your Google Voice phone number through Google Home and the Google Home Mini. No phone is required. They need to fix the ability to connect the Google Mini Home and other Google Home devices to Bluetooth headsets. If you don’t have a Google Voice number set in Google Assistant, the phone calls show up as “No Caller ID” to the person receiving the call. You can dial by name from your Google Contacts or by phone number.
  3. The Google Home Mini and Google Home devices are more likely to understand complex questions, and you can ask follow-up questions. So Google Home is more contextually aware.
  4. The Google Home Mini and Google Home devices don’t require you to add skills to achieve things like requesting rideshare, playing simple games, etc.
  5. The setup process for Google Home devices is much more pleasant. It doesn’t require you to disconnect from your wifi and connect to the device.

Kindle Fire Review

Here’s my review of the Kindle Fire. Keep in mind, I’ve been an iOS user from the start and my experience using Android is limited. If you haven’t used a tablet and don’t own an iOS device, the Kindle Fire might be for you. It’s a great value at $199 and is perfect for consuming media; including TV and movies, via NetFlix and Hulu; books and music, via the Amazon store. If you’re used an iPad or iOS device, you may not be happy with some of the minor rough edges of the Kindle Fire.

Kindle Fire unboxing
Kindle Fire unboxing
Kindle Fire configuration screen
Kindle Fire configuration screen

Pros of the Kindle Fire

  • Amazon UI eliminates some complexities of Android operating system.
  • The price – $199.
  • Good quality hardware.
  • All books, music, and apps purchased from Amazon are instantly available.
  • Super simple configuration. When you turn it on, it knows who you are.

Cons of the Kindle Fire

  • 7-inch form factor is cramped. After a few days, I’m still quicker using the iPhone keyboard.
  • The spacebar is tiny and offset to the left, you really notice this in portrait mode.
  • Web browser crashes too often.
  • Lack of hardware home button and volume controls.
  • Limited device configuration, this is likely an advantage for first-time users.
  • Limited app store selection. No Facebook or Twitter app yet, but popular apps such as Pulse News, Netflix, Hulu.
  • Lack of sync options for non-cloud apps/files.
Amazon Kindle Fire lock screen
Kindle Fire lock screen

Tiny space bar on Kindle Fire
Tiny Spacebar on the Kindle Fire

First Road Bike: Raleigh Revenio 3.0, Felt Z85, or Giant Defy 1

After putting more than 500 miles on my Northrock SC7 hybrid bike, I’m shopping for my first road bike. I’d like to keep the price under $1,500, and am aiming for a decent gruppo (or groupset), such as the Shimano 105.

The search is overwhelming. There are so many different manufacturers, brands, models, frames, forks, prices, local bike shops, etc. At this point I’ve narrowed the choices down to the Raleigh Revenio 3.0, the Felt Z85, or the Giant Defy 1. Please share any thoughts or suggestions to help with the decision.

Photos of Raleigh Revenio 3.0, Felt Z85, and Giant Defy 1

Raleigh Revenio 3.0 Road BikeFelt Z85 Road BikeGiant Defy 1 Road Bike

(click each photo to enlarge)

Specs of Raleigh Revenio 3.0, Felt Z85, and Giant Defy 1

 Specifications Raleigh Revenio 3.0 Felt Z85 Giant Defy 1
Frame Atomic 13 SL Hydroformed Aluminum Felt Super-light Custom Butted 7005 Aluminum w/ Smooth Welding ALUXX SL-Grade Aluminum
Fork Custom Carbon Composite Felt UHC Performance Carbon Fiber Design w/ 3KP Weave Advanced-Grade Carbon Composite
Weight Unspecified 19.98lbs Unspecified
Seatpost Avenir 200 Series 3 Aluminum Felt UHC Performance Carbon Fiber Design Giant Connect Carbon Composite
Saddle Avenir 300 Series Road Felt D2 Anatomic w/ Double-Density Gel Base Selle Royal Seta M
Shifters Shimano 105 Shimano 105 Shimano 105
Front Derailleur Shimano 105 Shimano 105 Shimano 105
Rear Derailleur Shimano 105 Shimano 105 Shimano 105
Brakes Shimano 105 Dual Pivot w/ Cartridge Brake Shoes Tektro TK-R540 Giant Specific, Dual Pivot
Brake Levers Shimano 105 STI Shimano 105 STI Shimano 105 STI
Cassette Shimano 105 11×28, 10-Speed Shimano 105 11×28, 10-Speed Shimano 105 11×28, 10-Speed
Chain KMC DX10 Shimano 105 Shimano 105
Crankset Shimano R600 Compact 34/50t FSA Vero Compact 50/34t Shimano 105, 34/50t
Rims Weinmann TR18 Double Wall MAVIC CXP-22N Aluminum Rim Giant P-R2
Hubs Joytech Alloy QR, 28h Felt Sealed Forged Aluminum w/ Quick Release 32h Formula Sealed Cartridge Bearing 24/28h
Spokes 14g Stainless MAC w/Alloy Nipples Stainless Steel 2.0mm w/ Brass Nipples Sapim Race, 14/15g
Tires Vittoria Rubino Pro 700x23c Vittoria Zaffiro, 700c x 25c Giant P-R3, 60 tpi, Flat Guard, 700x25c
Warranty Lifetime – Frame Lifetime – Frame Lifetime – Frame
MSRP (Price) $1,299 $1,199 $1,299


UPDATE: I ended up looking at a Cannondale CAAD10 and I fell in love, though it was a bit out of my budget. I finally came across a local dealer with a 2010 Cannondale CAAD9 4 with SRAM Rival/Force gruppo. I’m very happy with the bike!

Northrock SC7 Men’s Bike Review

My Review of Northrock SC7 Men’s Comfort Bike

Specifications of the Northrock SC7

  • Lightweight Aluminum Frame
  • RST Sofi T Fork – High Impact Absorption
  • Shimano M191 Crank & Altus Drivetrain (21-speed)
  • TEKTRO Linear Brakes
  • SRAM MRX 3.0 Twist Shifters with PROMAX Levers
  • VELO Plush Comfort Saddle & Ergonomic Grips
  • Kenda 700C Tires
  • Alloy Rims with 14G Stainless Steel Spokes
  • Quick Release Wheels & Adjustable Seat Post


Lightweight, solid bike with a comfortable, smooth ride. I am 6’3″ 200lbs and the Northrock SC7 fits me nicely.

Seat height adjusts with ease using quick-release lever on seat post.  The brakes work like a dream. Shimano Crank, Drivetrain and Tektro Brakes are some of the best components around. I wasn’t familiar with the Northrock brand, but the frame has a lifetime warranty. The Northrock SC7 was $259.99 at our local Costco, so the price is definitely a pro. A hybrid bike with similar components is several hundred more at local shops. Costco’s generous return policy is also a pro.
Northrock SC7 Hybrid Comfort Bike


The pedals on the Northrock SC7 are plastic and feel a bit cheap. Consider upgrading to the Shimano PD-M324 dual platform.

The seat moves slightly from side to side when biking. The SRAM MRX twist shifters are listed as a feature, but I worry they won’t last as long as a convention shifting mechanism. Many experts say any bike purchased from a retail outlet should have a tune-up from a bike shop right away. This could could easily add $50-$75 to the cost of the bike. I’m no expert, but the Northrock SC7 rides and shifts smoothly, so I think I’ll skip the tune-up. Be sure to physically inspect the bike for damage from customer mishandling prior to purchase.

Must have accessories for your new bike