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Microsoft’s Luxurious Smart Speaker Is Here — Amazon Echo, Beware

The first smart speaker with Cortana built in.

Harmon Kardon

Harmon Kardon and Microsoft have announced Invoke, a smart speaker built in the same vein as an Amazon Echo ($150) or Google Home ($129). Unlike those other speakers, however, Invoke was designed with sound quality as a priority, boasting 360-degree sound and three woofers and three tweeters. (The Amazon Echo has one woofer and one tweeter.) It’s also the first device other than a computer or smartphone to have Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant, built in. You’ll be able to set reminders, make lists, control smart home devices, and ask it random questions. Invoke can also make and receive Skype calls, which is a completely unique feature among smart speakers.

Invoke looks similar to the high-end Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 2. It has a columnar shape, aluminum body and, on top, a light ring that serves as a dial for volume control. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but Invoke will probably be more expensive than the Echo or Google Assistant. The speaker will be available this fall.

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