Harman Kardon unveils Cortana smart speaker

by Haadi Bakar
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Voice-activated smart speakers are increasingly becoming a hot topic in consumer tech as of late, with products such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home dominating this new market.

Even Apple is rumoured to be hard at work on its own Siri-enabled smart appliance.

But there is one little problem: none of these smart speakers are manufactured by a reputable audio brand.

This is where Harman Kardon comes in. The American audio company just announced its own take on the AI-powered smart speakers, with sound quality as a priority rather than an aftertought.

The Invoke speaker by Harman Kardon is powered by Microsoft’s Cortana for smart home control, and it’s the first device that Microsoft is testing its smart assistant on beyond PCs and smartphones.

Aside from telling Cortana to do things like turning the lights on or get weather updates, the Invoke can also make or receive Skype calls as well as landlines and mobile phones, which sets it apart from the Echo and Google Home.

The Invoke is also elegantly designed. While the Google Home looks like an expensive Fisher Price toy, Harman Kardon borrows the Echo’s cylindrical design and light ring at the top, but has a more premium metal build.

Due to the Invoke’s cylindrical design, the speaker fires at 360 degrees.

As the Invoke is first and foremost a Harman Kardon speaker, its prowess is in delivering high quality sound when used to play music, which is generally what you’ll be mainly using it for when not giving commands to Cortana. The smart speaker has three woofers and three tweeters, unlike the Echo and Google Home which offers just one of each driver.

This is essentially a smart speaker for those who take audio very seriously, or if you’re generally a fan/collector of the Harman Kardon brand.

Considering that the Echo and Google Home aren’t made available here in Brunei, the Invoke would make a fine alternative, since Cortana is developed by Microsoft, which is a more widely adopted system. It’s also easier to find Harman Kardon-branded speakers in this region.

But if you have a preference in smart assistant and Cortana isn’t your cup of tea, then you should hold off for Apple’s rumoured Siri smart speaker.

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