Home Blog

JBL Link View Initial Review is Positive

JBL Link View Review Roundup

The JBL Link View smart display will start shipping in a couple of weeks. If you are thinking about buying one of these devices, consider checking out one of the first-released reviews of the unit. See the CNET video review below. You can also read CNET’s full review here.

In the review, CNET praised the audio quality of the JBL Link View, pointing out the stronger bass it has over the similar Lenovo Smart Display. Essentially, for $250 you can get the 8-inch JBL Link View with its better audio, or for the same price you can get the Lenovo with its bigger 10-inch screen. A third option is to get the 8-inch Lenovo for $50 cheaper.

Besides the differences in audio quality and screen sizes, both the JBL and the Lenovo devices feature the same smart display software. Thus, your experience with each device will largely be the same. Of note, the Lenovo does allow you to place the device on its side to support a portrait mode for video chatting.

Which Smart Display device will you choose?

Are you going to buy a smart display from JBL or Lenovo? Are you going to wait for the upcoming Google-branded smart display? Already own a smart display? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

Personal Goals for 2018 (Short Term and Long Term)


I created this blog in part to document and share my journey into self-development and self-improvement. The first step of this journey is to establish some smart and meaningful personal goals. Below are some of the initial goals I have set. I will update this page over time with my progress and the next set of goals.

Short-Term Personal Goals

Here are some short-term goals I will be implementing right away. It can take a while to develop new habits. I’m interested in seeing how fast I can meet these goals and start working on my next set.

  • Wake Up Early: I’ve been a night owl since college. I often use the late hours for me-time after my wife goes to bed. For me at least, staying up late is one of the most unproductive things I do. This time is often spent watching TV or Netflix or YouTubes. Also, keeping late hours prevents me from taking advantage of my job’s flex hours (i.e. arrive early, leave early). This bad habit must be eliminated!
  • Get to Work Early: As I mentioned above, if I arrive to work early, I can leave early. By leaving work early, I can have more personal time after work. I can have more fun time as well. If I don’t achieve any short-term personal goal, this must not be one of them
  • Walk 10,000 Steps a Day: My Fitbit suggests that I should do this so I plan to do this. My wife and I often do a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood. I will try to do this 30-minute walk every day.
  • Watch Even Less TV: This is easily the biggest time waster. In an effort to stop watching TV, I stopped watching comedies and dramas except for a few Sunday shows (Power, Shameless, Walking Dead, etc.). Now I watch a lot of politics. This TV watching must end, bigly!
  • Write More: One of my long-term goals is to improve my writing skills. Hopefully, I’ll meet this goal by writing for this site.

Long-Term Personal Goals

Below are my current long-term personal goals. I classify these as long-term goals as they will take time and effort to complete. Hopefully, I can demonstrate some progress on these goals the next time I update this article.

  • Learn a New Skill: My current work contract may end at the end of the year. Before I begin my job search, I want to learn something new to make myself more marketable. I also want to make more money. I need to research what skills to acquire and give my self a project that will help me develop the skill.
  • Renovate my Condo: My place looks like part home, part office, part computer lab. My wife has been very patient with me but I can see the patience running out! We will likely live in our place for another couple of years so we should fix it up and enjoy the upgrades.
  • Get Healthy: I have several nagging issues that will only get resolved if I give up sugar and lose weight. I am officially starting a new regiment today (or tomorrow, lol). After I click publish on this article, I will begin creating a diet and workout plan. Among other things, I plan to create some freezer meals to leverage the new freeze we just purchased. I’ll share my recipes and workout plans on the site.
  • Have More Fun: We are really in a rut when it comes to our downtime. We pretty much stick to the same routine. I want to spice this up a bit. One of the articles I plan to write for this site is on the topic of, “50 Date-Night Ideas”. Once I create the list, I plan to actually do everything on the list!

That’s it for now. I will continuously update this article as meet old goals and establish new ones. Wish me luck.

If you have feedback on my personal goals, or if you want to share the goals you are currently working on, share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Google Home Pros and Cons, Advantages & Disadvantages


Thinking about buying a Google Home?

Want to know if you should get this device or an Amazon Alexa device instead? Before making your purchase, check out the Google Home pros and cons listed in this article. I review the reasons why you should consider Google Home over other devices, and why you might want to wait until it supports more features.

Buy the Google Home Now

Google Home Pros and Cons

Please note that the Google Home pros and cons listed in this review reflect the current functionality of the device, as of October 2017.  Just like the Amazon Echo before it, expect more features and functionality to be added to Google Home over time. For now, check out my current assessment.

google home pros and cons 3

Google Home Pros

Here are some of the pros and advantages of the Google Home wireless speaker:

  • Second to none in its ability to answer questions. The biggest advantage Google Home has over other voice-controlled apps and devices is its ability to provide factual responses to questions.  The device leverages Google’s Knowledge Graph, a system that contains millions of facts about people, places, and things, and how all of these entities are connected. This allows Google Home to provide responses to questions far beyond the capabilities of other voice-controlled apps and devices. Google Home can also understand follow up questions. For example, you can get answers to questions like, “How are the Sixers doing?” and “When is their next game?”.
  • Can cast video to your TV. The second biggest advantage the Google Home has is the ability to cast video to your TV. Currently, you can cast video from YouTube. Support for Netflix and other video services are expected to be added over time.
  • Can identify different voices: Initially, a missing feature, this ability ensures that multiple people can get personalize results for GH.
  • Can cast audio to multiple devices. Using Chromecast Audio, you stream music to one or more sets of speakers in different rooms.
  • Supports Google Play Music and YouTube Music. These services are not available on Alexa devices.
  • Pretty good sound quality considering its size. For casual music listening, I think Google Home sounds good.
  • Appears to understand my Spotify requests better than Alexa devices. In my personal experience, I’ve encountered far fewer mistakes with Home versus Alexa. Your mileage may vary.
  • Aesthetic design and customizable appearance. Google Home looks like a small piece of furniture that can be customized to match your decor. The Echo looks like a speaker while the Echo Dot looks like a hockey puck.
  • Hands-free calling. You can make calls with your voice to any number in the US and Canada.
  • Step by step cooking instructions: Google Home will walk you through preparing food. I’m not sure how useful this is, however. If GH ever gets a display, this feature would be really cool.
  • Works with free Spotify Accounts: Enough said!
  • Bluetooth audio streaming: This is another feature it should have had in the beginning but I’m glad it’s available now.
  • Availability: Google Home is (or will be) available in these countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, United States (except Puerto Rico).

Google Home definitely has some positive traits. But what about the negatives? Check them out below.

google home pros and cons 2Google Home Cons

Here are some of the cons, limitations, and drawbacks of the Google Home:

  • Features and firmware updates not available to all regions. One of the biggest complaints we see from Google Home users is that features are not available to them. I hope this can be addressed.
  • GH doesn’t have as many skills as the Amazon Echo: While I’m happy about the skills GH has acquired since its launch, it still trails the Amazon Echo in skill count. With that said, more analysis is required to determine how big the actual gap is.
  • GH also lags in third-party support when compared to Amazon Echo: As of this writing (August 2017), Amazon Echo has more compatible smart home products and accessories than the Google Home.
  • Can’t read or send emails or messages. You’ll have to use your phone for that.
  • Can only recite items in our main calendar. Home doesn’t support shared or secondary calendars.
  • Costs more than the comparable Amazon Echo. Something to consider.
  • Doesn’t have an audio out port. An additional $35 Chromecast Audio purchase is required to stream to external speakers
  • It’s powered by Google Assistant, which is different than Google Now. This may create some confusion for people that already make use of Google Now powered phones and tablets.
  • Launch phrase not customizable. Thus, multiple devices may respond, or at least, wake up when you use the launch phrase. Also, your devices will occasionally be activated by Google TV commercials.
  • Lack of physical buttons on the top of the device. I find the swipe-oriented volume control to be finicky and annoying. I’d much prefer physical buttons or clearly marked capacitive buttons, and not the current where’s Waldo button implementation.
  • Doesn’t hear me from a distance as well as the Amazon Echo does. Your mileage may vary.
  • No intercom feature. An Amazon Echo and initiate communication to another Amazon Echo. Google Home doesn’t have this functionality.
  • The Google Home App is not easy to use. Many users complain about the GH App in our Google Home Facebook Group.

As you can see, Google Home definitely has some missing features. Should you still consider buying it? Check out my buyer’s recommendation below.

google home pros and cons

Also See: Google Home Suggested Improvements

Should you Buy Google Home?

Before you buy any voice-activated device, the first question you need to answer is, what will you use it for? Will you use it to play music (and subscribe to a paid music subscription)? Will you invest in compatible smart home devices? Will you use it to ask questions or to play games? If any of this appeals to you, then you might find a voice-activated device to be worth its cost.

Google Home versus Amazon Echo

Once you decide to buy a voice activated device, the second question to answer is, should you buy a Google Home or the Amazon Echo? Here are my suggestions:

Get the Google Home if you…

  • Want to ask complex questions that leverage Google’s Knowledge Graph.
  • Want to make free, voice-activated telephone calls.
  • Want the device to recognize different voices.
  • Want to cast audio and/or video.

Get the Amazon Echo if you…

  • Want more options for compatible smart home products and accessories.
  • Want to use skills not offered on the Google Home.
  • Want to use Amazon services you already pay for, such as Amazon Prime, Amazon Video, Amazon Music, etc.
  • Want a built-in screen.

The third option, of course, is to buy a Google Home Mini and an Amazon Echo Dot. This is the cheapest way to get the best of both worlds.

Which device will you choose?

Will you buy the Google Home? Will you get the Amazon Echo? Will you get both devices or none at all? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Google-Home-Facebook-Group (1)

Sources: Google Best Buy

Google Home Smart Display Wishlist. Here are the features I want to see.

Google Home Smart Display Wish List - GH Users

What’s better than a Google Home? A Google Home with a screen! Google Home Smart Displays are coming, and I can’t wait for them to arrive.

I’ve been holding off on buying any smart home products ahead of the Google IO 2018 event that’s taking place on May 8th, 2018. During this event, I’m hoping to get an update on Smart Display features and availability.

In the meantime, I started thinking about the things I want my Smart Display to do. Below you will find a list the features I’d like to see in these devices. Maybe Lenovo, LG, Sony, Archos, and/or JBL will see this post and implement some of my ideas. 🙂

My Google Home Smart Display Wishlist

Without further ado, here are the features I’d like to see in the new Google Home Smart Displays:

  • Built-in alarm clock with battery backup. The Smart Display should have dedicated alarm clock hardware. The alarm should work even if there is a power outage or if the internet is down.
  • Face Detection. The unit should be able to turn on and off when a face is detected. Face detection should also display user-specific content such as custom home screens.
  • Custom Home Screens. Users should be allowed to create custom home screens, just like you can on an android phone. Users should be allowed to share or sell custom screens.
  • Removable Display with a docking station.
  • Very large Smart Displays. I’d like to see them as large as 24 inches or 32 inches. I could think of a few business applications for large versions of these devices.
  • Can be hung from or attached to surfaces. I would love to hang one up in the kitchen.
  • Multiple, On-screen Timers. This would really come in handy for cooking.
  • Video Intercom. Enough said.
  • Moveable, Rotatable Screen. Just like the G4 iMac.

Another cool option would be to create a Google Home that can be connected to a touchscreen monitor. This would provide another way to get a Smart Display with a huge screen.

Will You Buy a Google Home Smart Display?

Are you going to buy a Google Home Smart Display? Will you pre-order one? Want to share your own suggested features? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or in our Facebook Group.

See my Google Home Suggested Improvements & Submit Your Own

Google Home Facebook Group Cover Photo

Dear makers of Google Home,

I use Google Home every day. To my surprise, my wife uses it just as often. We mostly use it to play music. However, asking Knowledge Graph-based questions is slowly becoming our killer app for the device.

While I love my Google Home, it is not yet perfect. The device is off to a great start but I’m hoping for a lot more. In this article, I share my top Google Home suggested improvements. While I suspect many of them are already in the works, I hope some of the unique ideas presented below will be considered as well.

I’d like to thank members of our Google Home Users Facebook group and our Google Home Facebook page for their suggestions!

Image Source: Forbes

Google Home Suggestions for Improvement 1 Buy Google Home

Google Home Suggested Improvements

Below I list my suggested changes for Google Home. Use the comments section to let me know if you agree with my suggestions, or if you have suggestions of your own.

Most Requested Changes

  • Release all new features to all countries. The biggest complaint we see in the Facebook Group is new features not being available in all regions. when simultaneous releases are not possible, it would be nice if Google could provide a release schedule for each region.
  • Ability to change the “Hey Google” launch phrase. Motorola already supports this capability with its phones. It would be awesome if this could be added to Google Home.
  • Intercom to specific speakers. Yes, we have the broadcast feature but we also want to be able to have 2-wap communication between speakers.

Google Home Hardware

  • Include an alarm clock. If Google Home had an alarm clock, I would put a Google Home in every bedroom. There should be dedicated hardware for the alarm clock so that GH firmware updates or internet outages do not impact the alarm clock’s operation. A backup battery should allow the alarm clock to fully function.
  • Include physical buttons. Changing the volume using the touch interface is too finicky for my taste. Physical button would allow precise control over volume and playback. Physical buttons would allow people who are unfamiliar with the device to quickly see how to control the device.
  • Add additional microphones. In my experience, Google Home doesn’t hear me as well as Amazon Echo in loud environments. A few more mics could make up the difference.
  • Add an audio-out port. Instead of making us buy a separate Chromecast Audio, please add an audio-port on the Google Home. If you are concerned about losing sales, sell some Google-branded speakers that will work with Home. I’d buy them if they are good.
  • Allow the next Google tablet to function like a Google Home. Give it a charging dock (preferably wireless). Allow it to display pretty search results on the screen such as recipes, celebrity bios, stats for athletes, menus for local restaurants, etc. Give it dual speakers, plus premium audio for hooking up to external speakers.
  • Allow for separate volume control for voice and media playback.

Firmware Updates

  • Provide a release schedule for firmware updates. It would be nice to see a roadmap upcoming new features by country, and by device, including third-party hardware.
  • Provide release notes for each firmware update.
  • Allow Google Home to state whether it has the current firmware update. Allow Google Home to say what’s in the most recent update.

Google Home Accessories

  • Create a Bluetooth remote that can be used to control Google Home. The remote could allow you to ask Google Home questions without using the launch phrase. Volume, audio playback, and videocasting playback could be controlled with this remote. Perhaps the device could have programmable buttons that launch routines.
  • Create a Bluetooth headset and/or headphones that have a dedicated Google Home button. The device should allow you to issue commands, make hands-free calls with the GH, and listen to GH streaming audio.
  • Create a wearable that can control Google Home. It could be a watch or a comm badge that has dedicated GH buttons.
  • Create a new version of Chromecast. The new version could feature video pass-through, allowing it to overlay TV broadcasts. Since the unit will serve as the input to our video sources, we will no longer have to switch the video source on our TV.
  • Create a smart hub to compete with other brands.

General Commands

  • Cast video to Google Chrome. Instead of casting to my TV, I’d like to cast to a new tab in Google Chrome.
  • Verbally add time to a timer to extend timers.
  • Verbally check off items on to-do list and shopping lists.
  • Ask if a particular item is on a shopping list.
  • Voice Memo Recording. It would be cool to be able to record voice memos that become available in the Google Home app and in Google Keep.

Events and Entertainment

  • Add movie theater and showtime support. I’d like to be able to ask, “what’s playing at the AMC Hoffman movie theater”, followed by “what are the showtimes for ‘Die Hard 6’?”
  • Add support for questions about local events. Sample questions include, “What concerts are happening this weekend?” or “what plays can I see next weekend?”
  • Allows movie trailers to be easily displayed via Chromecast. I’d like to be able to ask, “Show me top movie trailers on Chromecast” or “Show new movie trailers on Chromecast”.
  • Add the ability to announce new movies on DVD or Netflix. Sample questions: “What’s new on DVD?” and “What’s popular on Netflix?”.
  • Tivo integration. I would love to be able to search Tivo for movies and shows using my Google Home. Btw, I think Google should buy Tivo before Amazon does. 😉

Music Support

  • Add support for satellite radio. Sample commands: “Play Howard Stern on satellite radio” and “Play Shady 45 on satellite radio”.
  • Add support for playing music stored on a local computer. Not everyone has Spotify.

Health and Fitness

  • Add the ability to cast recipes to Chromecast. Chromecast could display static recipes from top recipe sites. I’d like to be able to ask, “what should I cook tonight”, “suggest a green smoothie recipe”, or “what should I cook for my next dinner party?”.
  • Add the ability to easily cast curated workout videos to Chromecast. These videos can be on YouTube but perhaps there should be curated videos available. Perhaps we could specify videos from our saved videos or playlists.
  • Add the ability to play curated guided audio workouts. I’d like to be able to say, “start seven-minute workout”.

Smart Home Commands

  • Ability to “Undo” the Last Action. For instance, if I turned on the wrong groups of lights, I could tell Google Home to “undo” the last action.
  • Location-Based Commands. For example, if I have Google Home + Chromecast in multiple rooms, if I ask GH to cast something, it should by default cast to the Chromecast in the same room. Likewise, if I have GHs and lights in multiple rooms, the command “turn off the lights” should turn off the lights in the room I’m in by default. To avoid confusion, we should need to enable this functionality.
  • Associate Accessories to a Specific Speaker. Similar to the previous suggestion, perhaps we can associate accessories to default speakers.

Google Home App

  • Improve the Ease of Use. One complaint I hear all of the time is that the Google Home App is not easy to use.
  • Add the ability to manage alarms. It would be nice to be able to manage all alarms on all speakers via the Google Home App.

Account Support

  • Allow support for sending and checking email. I’d like to be able to say, “Do I have email?”, “Is there new email for Tech Ranker?”, or “send an email to my boss, ‘The client loved my slide deck!”.
  • Allow support for sending and checking text messages. Sample commands: “Send text to my wife, ‘Please pick up milk'” and “Read my unread text messages”.
  • Add the ability to define aliases for people and groups. I’d like to use aliases such as wife, boss, mom, kids, bowling team, close friends, etc. I’d like to be able to ask, “read messages from bowling team”.
  • Add the ability to play Google Voice messages. Perhaps Google Home can blink if I have new voicemail and allow me to play them back.

Buy Google Home for $129  Buy Now

Share your Google Home Suggested Improvements

Do you have any features you want added to Google Home? Are there any hardware suggestions you want to suggest for the next version of the device? Use the comments section to share your thoughts.

Like and Share this post

If you would like Google to make some of the changes above, like and share this post using the buttons below. Hopefully, Google will see this article and use some of my suggestions.

Save $40 on Google Home for a limited time

flash sale - google home

flash sale - google home

Thinking about buying your very first Google Home? Or are you interested in adding a second GH to your home or office? You’re in luck! For a limited time, you can save $40 on a brand new Google Home voice-activated speaker!

FLASH SALE: $39 OFF Google Home – $89.99 at Flash. Ends 4/7/2018

At $90, the Google Home is being offered for close to the lowest price ever (it was on sale around Black Friday for $80). You are not likely to see this price again any time soon so you better act fast!

After you buy your Google Home, consider joining our Google Home Facebook Group. There you will find tips on how to get started with your new device. If you run into problems, feel free to post a question in the group. Our members love helping new users.

Join our Google Home Facebook Group


Save $60 on Insignia Voice Smart Speaker with Google Assistant

Voice Smart Portable Bluetooth Speaker NS-CSPGASP2 5865906 2

Interested in buying a Google Home? Why not consider the Insignia Voice Smart Portable Speaker instead? For a limited time, you can save up to $60 on the device.

The Insignia Voice Smart Speaker comes with the Google Assistant built-in. Thus, it should have all of the voice command capabilities of the Google Home. One way the Voice Smart one-ups the Google Home is its built-in alarm clock.  This is a much-appreciated feature which provides a reliable use case for the device.

The Voice Smart also features a built-in battery that can support up to five hours of audio playback. This allows you to use the device as a portable speaker. I can see myself temporarily moving the speaker to the kitchen where I can play music, set cooking timers, or get recipes from Google. I could then return the speaker to my nightstand, listen to music as I fall asleep, and wake up with the alarm in the morning.

Conceivably, the built-in battery can serve as a battery backup for the alarm clock. Someone has to test this scenario to see if it actually works. Perhaps I will test this feature myself…


Voice Smart Portable Bluetooth Speaker NS-CSPGASP2 5865906

If the microphone and audio are a good as the Google Home, the Insignia Voice Smart Speaker might be the smart speaker to beat! The best thing about the  Voice Smart Speaker is its current price. For a limited time, you can get one for $69.99 without the battery and $89.99 with the battery.  This price won’t last long. Get one now!

Insignia Voice Smart Bluetooth Speaker with the Google Assistant (NS-CSPGASP2)

Insignia Voice Smart Bluetooth Speaker with the Google Assistant (NS-CSPGASP2)

Includes a battery that can support up to five hours of audio playback.

Insignia Voice Smart Bluetooth Speaker with the Google Assistant (NS-CSPGASP-B)

Insignia Voice Smart Bluetooth Speaker with the Google Assistant (NS-CSPGASP-B)

No battery but it’s cheaper.

Want more Google Home coverage? Check out our main Google Home page.

If you have questions about Google Home, please visit our Group Home Group.

See this list of smart home devices that work with Google Home

Google Home compatible smart home devices

Google Home got a late start to the voice-activated speaker market. However, 3rd-party support for Google’s smart speaker is definitely picking up! As evidence of this, check out this long list of supported devices on this Google Home support page.

As of the time of this writing, the list contains over 180 products. Many of the top brands are included in the list, such as Philips Hue, Samsung Smart Things, TP-Link, and others. The page contains a convenient search box that allows you to quickly find the product you are looking for.

While the Google Home is still playing catchup to the Amazon Echo in terms of 3rd-party support, it’s awesome to see that the platform is gaining support. Check out the list of compatible products in the link below:

Read: Google Home Control Partners

Did you buy a Google Home yet?

If so, how do you like it? If not, what are you waiting for? Check out the Google Home and the Google Home Mini today!

Google Home Mini Price, Release Date, & Pre-Order (Video)

Google Home Mini Price, Specs, Release Date, & Pre-Order (Video)

Introducing Google Home Mini

Buy Now ($49) See at Wal-Mart See at Best Buy See at B&H Photo

Google Home Mini Price, Specs, Release Date, & Pre-Order (Video)Google just announced the Google Home Mini, the miniature version of Google’s popular voice-activated speaker, the Google Home. Just like its bigger sibling, the Google Home Mini is controlled via voice commands and allows you to do things like get answers from Google, stream music, get news & weather, and control smart home devices.

To learn more about what the Google Home (and the new Google Home Mini) can do, check out this guide. If you want to know how much the Google Home Mini is, when it will be available, and how to get it, continue to read on.


Google Home Mini Price, Release Date, and Pre-Order

The Google Home Mini retails for the price of just $49. At this price point, the Mini competes directly with Amazon’s similarly priced Echo Dot. The price also provides Google a chance to increase its share of the market. The pre-existing Google Home retails for $129.

If you are interested in purchasing a Mini, you don’t have to wait long. The Google Home Mini’s release date is October 18th, 2017. You will be able to buy the Mini online or in stores that day.

The Mini is sure to be a hit. As a result, the device may sell out around the holidays. Considering pre-ordering a Google Home Mini or two. That way, you are sure you get yours before Christmas shopping begins.

Google Home Mini Pre-Order Information

You can pre-order the Google Home Mini now! See it at one of the following retailers:

Buy Now ($49)  See at Wal-Mart See at Best Buy See at B&H Photo


Google Home Mini - Three Colors

How to get the Google Home Mini for free!

If you plan to order a Pixel 2, one of Google’s two new phones announced today, you get a special bonus. Upon ordering a Pixel 2, Google will send you a code that allows you to get a Google Home Mini for free!

Want to pre-order a Google Pixel 2? You can order them from here. Please note that the Pixel phones sold out fast last year.

Are you buying one?

Are you going to buy the Google Home Mini? What do you think about the device? Do you think it’s a hit or a miss? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Pros and Cons Review 2015 Video



The new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite goes on sale on June 30th, 2015. With this release, Amazon’s latest Kindle features an improved, higher resolution screen, more ram, and better performance. In other words, it appears that the world’s best dedicated e-reader just got a little better.

Should you upgrade to the new Kindle Paperwhite? How does it compare to other Kindles? Should you buy one now or wait for the next Kindle? Answer these questions and more in this Amazon Kindle Paperwhite pros and cons article.

Buy the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite