Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
Bikes: 1997 Rivendell Road Standard 650b conversion (tourer), 2010 Rivendell Roadeo (gofast), 1988 Schwinn Project KOM-10 (gravel/tour), 2013 Foundry Auger disc (gravel), 2015 Specialized Fatboy (MTB/winter)
Between the two, the Giant has basically the same components for $180 less (retail). The Draco brakes on the Specialized are the next step up from the brakes on the Giant, but I don't know that you'd notice much difference.
If it were only between these two bikes, I'd buy the Giant and spend the $180 on accessories.
HOWEVER... I wouldn't buy either, because I believe a front shock on a hybrid is worthless. The marginal shock absorption from a cheap fork doesn't make up for the weight and handling penalty. Front shocks are for absorbing big hits, like when you jump something on a MTB. A rigid fork is fine for hopping curbs; BMX and rigid MTBs have done it for years.
I'd check out a hybrid with a rigid fork, like the Giant Escape, or the Specialized Crossroads (not Trail), Vita, or Sirrus. The bike will be lighter and easier to pedal than one with a front shock.
Buy the one that rides the best!