Harman Kardon Invoke review: The first Cortana speaker

Microsoft has finally joined the party of smart speakers. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Sonos have already been present in the market with their smart speakers.

The Cortana virtual assistant from Microsoft will be featured in the Harman Kardon Invoke for the very first time.

It has better sound qualities than most other smart speakers. However, it needs to improve a lot before it can compete with smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa.

Harman Kardon Invoke Review:

Design & Hardware:

Harman Kardon

The speaker has a striking resemblance to Amazon’s Echo in the build. Both are large, cylindrical speakers. However, the build quality of the Invoke is better. It is made up of high-quality metal with a small amount of plastic. On the other hand, Amazon’s Echo is built completely on plastic. The control dial also works perfectly well.

A frosted display shows you the volume level and moments when Cortana, the virtual assistant is hearing you. It also seven far-field microphones array. This lets the speaker here you no matter the distance when you are in the same room. You will get two buttons on the backside. One of them lets you mute the device, the other helps you to pair it with Bluetooth devices. You will also get a micro USB port. The speaker comes with three woofers along with two passive radiators.

The only disadvantage I found out was the length of the power cord. It is just three foot long. Of course, you can use an extension cord. However, it still remains a con in this product.

Usage:

Harman Kardon Invoke

To use the Invoke, first of all, you would have to install the Android or iOS app of Cortana. You can also do it on a Windows 10 computer. In Cortana’s settings, you will find the speaker as a device. It takes only a few seconds to connect. Afterward, just say “Hey, Cortana,” and you are good to go. You can literally ask it anything, ranging from the weather to the news, to directions to a place.

The sound quality of the product is superb. It can play any song, podcast, and so on with exceptional clarity. It sounds so much natural. When it comes to sound quality, it easily beats Amazon Alexa and Echo. However, there is one disadvantage as well. the audio streaming services that Cortana can work with is only a few. It supports Spotify, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio. However, it does not have any Pandora support. This one is a huge con.

The Cortana Virtual assistant also has a more natural voice compared to other devices. This adds to its benefits. Also, you can call anyone on Skype with device. The call sound quality is very good as well. In addition, it comes with unlimited Skype calling feature, so you do not need to worry about credit for calls.

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Pricing and Competition:

When it comes to the pricing, the Harman Kardon Invoke is on the expensive side of the spectrum. It is costlier than most of its competition, such as Echo and Echo Plus. However, it has a lower price than Google’s HomePod.

Now, the device you should buy depends on your personal choice. For example, if you want excellent sound quality, then the Harman Kardon Invoke is definitely your best friend. On the other hand, Amazon’s Echo line has more offered services than this one. So, at the end of the day, it all boils down to personal choice.

Pros
  • Amazing sound quality, better than most other smart speakers
  • Cortana virtual assistant has a very natural voice
  • Works well on Android, iOS, and PCs
Cons
  • The virtual assistant does not have many skills, especially when compared to Amazon’s Alexa
  • Limited music service integration
  • Power cord is not adequately long

The Kardon Invoke is a great addition in the smart speaker field. Of course, it can be much better with time. However, it is still a good product to have. If you have any more questions, or if you want me to talk about something else, do let me know in the comments section below.

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