Christened the Harman Kardon Invoke, the speaker looks pretty sophisticated than the Echo and Google Home and does well at listening to commands with the built-in microphones. It produces quality 360-degree audio that fills the room evenly.
The Invoke has a dial at the top, just like the Amazon Echo and can read the news on command, which is familiar to users of the Echo and Google Home. Tapping on top of the Invoke will present you with a random factoid and every time you give a command a glowing light dances at the top.
The Invoke can also read out calendar reminders but these are limited to Office 365, Microsoft’s flagship office suite. The company said it will include additional calendars in future.
The speaker can be used for reminders like “Remind me to pick up the kids when I leave work,” or to ask “How tall is Trump Tower?” or “what’s the weather?” The reminder can also be sent to the Cortana app on a smartphone.
The Invoke can be used as a phone and can also control smart devices in your home.
The Invoke is not able to order products from grocery stores like the Echo and Google Home and seems unable to play music continuously without interruption.
The speaker can only play music from TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Spotify leaving out other trendy services like Apple Music, Pandora and Google Play Music. It also has a very short power cord which forces the user to keep it close to the power outlet.
The unit is unable to play the same song in different rooms of the house since it doesn’t support multi-room audio like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
With the Invoke, Microsoft is starting in the right direction but has a lot of work to do in order to catch up with Amazon and Google. The speaker does well with its seamless integration with Cortana but that’s only beautiful for a Windows user.