Harman Kardon Invoke Review: Cortana finds her voice

Move aside, Alexa; back off, Google Assistant. Microsoft’s Cortana is here, and she wants to be the de-facto virtual assistant for busy people in their busy homes. Breaking free of the smartphone and desktop for the first time, Cortana‘s newest form is the Harman Kardon Invoke, a new entrant to the burgeoning smart speaker market that promises audio quality to rival true music systems along with everything from both your home and your work lives.

In a world of fabric-clad smart speakers, Harman Kardon has gone in a different direction. The $199 Invoke is a tall, tapering column of metal and quality-feeling plastic, covered in a radial spray of speaker perforations and topped with a metal volume ring with a pleasingly meaty action. All it needs is a glowing orange eye and it would be the perfect 21st Century home for Sauron.

The top doubles as a touch panel and an LED array. You can tap to stop or respond to whatever is currently happening – answer or hang up on a call, pause music, or silence an alarm or timer – or long-tap to bypass the “Hey Cortana” trigger phrase or reject an incoming call.

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