Harman Kardon Invoke: A Beautiful Cortana Powered Smart Speaker

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Harman Kardon Invoke: A Beautiful Cortana Powered Smart Speaker Listen to this article

The single complaint I have about the Harman Kardon Invoke is Cortana’s Fault

My single biggest complaint with the Invoke is actually not its fault. It’s Cortana or, more specifically, how Microsoft has enabled it across multiple devices.

With Google Assistant and Google Home, my main point of comparison, if I say “Hey Google, what is the weather outside?”, my phone (a Pixel XL) and my Google Home will light up to listen to me. But, because the Home heard me, it is the default playback device and I hear nothing come from my phone. This is how it should work because I don’t need both devices giving me the same information or the phone overriding the Home.

That, unfortunately, is not how Cortana works with the Invoke and your PC. I have a Huawei Matebook with Windows 10 Pro. If I say, “Hey Cortana, what is the weather outside?” Cortana will light up both on the Invoke and my PC. That’s how it should work. Unfortunately, both devices will read me back the information. To make matters worse, the timings are off so it is like I have a Cortana echo going on in my office.

To get around this, I’ve disabled the voice-enabled Cortana feature on my Matebook so that I have to actually open Cortana on my PC for it to respond. It’s a good workaround, but I shouldn’t have to do this frankly. Microsoft needs to sort out how Cortana responds with multiple enabled devices present. I suspect that this will only become a bigger issue as more Invoke units are sold so hopefully Harman Kardon and Microsoft can work on it together to get it figured out.

Conclusion

As you’ve probably figured out, I’m more than impressed with the Invoke. It is a beautiful smart speaker with stunning audio performance and excellent far-field microphones. It is a smart speaker that every Windows 10 users should seriously consider, especially if you leverage Cortana on your phones too.

To be sure, there is still a lot of room for Cortana skills to grow so it the Invoke can become even more useful. Frankly, it reminds me of where Google Home and Google Assistant were a year ago. Hopefully, Microsoft will continue to work with the developer community to improve the functionality.

The Harman Kardon Invoke is $199 and available from Microsoft directly or on Amazon.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Audio performance; Microphone performance; Overall look & design

What Needs Improvement: Microsoft needs to sort out device priority when multiple Cortana enabled devices are present

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About the Author

Clinton Fitch
Clinton is the owner of ClintonFitch.com and has been writing about mobile tech since 1998. You can follow Clinton on Twitter @clintonfitch. When not writing about tech, Clinton is an avid baseball and F1 fan and is a ski bum in the winter.