Harman Kardon’s Cortana Speaker Revealed

Posted on May 7, 2017 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 28 Comments

Late in 2016, Microsoft and Harman Kardon teased a new speaker that would be powered by Cortana. The Amazon Echo competitor has remained out of the spotlight and neither company has shown off what the final device would look like until now.

Harman Kardon has published a ‘coming soon’ page for the Invoke, the name of the cortana-based product, and it gives us the first look at the new hardware.

The premium speaker has a cylindrical design and does look similar to an Amazon Echo. At the top of the device is the familiar light ring that looks like Cortana. The speaker offers 360 degree sound, the ability to make and receive calls with Skype, and all of the other features currently available with Cortana.

As expected, this device is going to ship with the release of Redstone 3 which will arrive this fall.

I’m not quite sure how long this page has been online but considering that Microsoft will talk more about Cortana next week at Build and it is expected that they will make the Cortana Skills Kit available to everyone, we may get an early look at this new hardware. With that being said, hopefully we will see other vendors jump into the Cortana boat and release speakers as well.

Based one the images on the pre-release page, it looks like the device will come in silver and black.

For now, you can register to be notified about when the Invoke will go on sale. Unfortunately, we don’t know the price point of this device but I fully expect it to be around the same price points as Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Update: The device has been announced and will be US only, supports Windows 10, Android and iOS, the price is unknown; you can view the announcement page here.

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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Harman Kardon’s Cortana Speaker Revealed”

  1. MutualCore

    What really gets me is that this will not be running Windows 10 IOT, but some stripped down Linux with Cortana. Typical Microsoft, lacking the courage of their software.

  2. Thayios

    More conflicted emotions for this...Amazon has (at least in my opinion) pretty much dominated the smart speaker area especially with the integration with IoT.


    I like Cortana, I really do. There's great things there (like the auto reminders, neat), and I would love to centralize this in my house with my IoT but Microsoft has left me a bit worried about investing into any of their spin off hardware (like the Band for example). Will they keep supporting it (i.e. Windows Phone)? Will they decide the investment isn't worth it and kill it off? (i.e. Band?).


    I have Cortana on my iPhone now, and rarely use it because Siri is brewed into the OS itself and I don't have to have the app open to say commands.


    EDIT: And to touch on one more point, I still can't set Chrome as my default opener for Cortana things in Windows 10, so, they expect me to buy into a product that is going to be just as closed source?

  3. Bats

    OMG...do you see how AWESOME I am? I just looked saw a news article in Appleinsider stating that Amazon is release a "visual" echo. LOL. Like I said, you wait and watch...Google will copy this as well. When Amazon and Google releases this new Alexa and Google Assistant device, Microsoft' will be releasing their 2015 technology.

  4. Pierre Masse

    Another fine piece for the Microsoft's Museum of Unsupported Technology.

  5. EnterMegatron99

    How is it possible that Cortana is STILL only available in 13 countries, and that this speaker won't even be sold in those countries? Canada didn't even make the cut? I've lost all desire to buy any MS consumer products...including XBOX One. I no longer trust this company in the consumer market.

  6. Sarge

    I've got to say that I am now officially gun shy of any Microsoft consumer targeted technology.  Damn tired of the Zune, Windows Home Server, Windows Phone, Microsoft Band experiences.  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me 4 or more times, get my head examined.

  7. bbold

    Any idea of a price point? $100-150? I'm buying one in a heartbeat. I have all 50 gigs of my music in OneDrive. I'm curious to see how this stacks up against the Amazon Echo and Dot, which I have been using with varying degrees of success. This will be an instant buy for me!

  8. TheOneX

    I'm interested in this. As much as I like my Amazon Echo there are some very major shortcomings to it that Cortana already is capable of. I recently downloaded the Cortana app to my Android phone, and it is a far better app. My Echo is mainly just an Audible/Amazon Prime Music player. Without any smart things in my house it is otherwise mostly useless.


    The first major limitation with Alexa is it is isolated to Echo devices. The Alexa app is very limited. Cortana on the other hand is either on or can be on all of my devices already. So I always have access to her, even if I am not in the same room as a voice controlled device.


    The second major issue I have with Alexa is poor integration with non-music apps. For me this is most apparent with the To Do List. The built in To Do list in the Alexa app is very basic. When I searched out ways to integrate with other to do apps I was never able to find an acceptable solution. At this point integration is an unknown for Cortana, but in terms of lists it should be better as Microsoft offers multiple to do list solutions that are far more advance than what Amazon offers in the Alexa app.


    As someone who doesn't like to be too tied to a single ecosystem, I am hoping Microsoft puts an emphasis on integration with non-Microsoft apps, services, and devices.

  9. glong

    For those that think MS will never make it ... A list of MS products that were "late" in the game ... and people said would "never make it"

    MS Word vs Wordperfect

    Excel vs Lotus 123

    Netscape vs IE

    Windows NT vs Netware

    Windows vs MAC OS

    Xbox vs PS2

    Exchange vs Lotus Notes

    Vista vs ... OOPS ... We'll gve you that one

    Just to name a few :)


  10. MikeGalos

    Bravo. What people keep missing is that this adds two thing Echo misses out on:

    1) It's actually tied to the same AI Assistant already working with all the users' data and not separate from their phone and laptop and Xbox and desktop.

    2) Since it's also meant to be an audio device, it gets credit for being from an actual audio device maker.

    Also note that since this is a Microsoft OEM device, I'd expect that after Harmon Kardon's (likely expensive) 'first vendor exclusive' period ends, this will be a standard 'check box' feature for remote audio device vendors to include in their products.

  11. Bats

    LOL...I know Brad wants this product badly, but if he has a Microsoft museum that contains Microsoft hardware WebTV, UltimateTV, Router, etc.... this will be a nice addition to that.

    Microsoft missed the boat. When the ship has sailed, you don't ride a boat to catch up to it. Rather, you fly. What Microsoft should have done was create a "display" like device that can serve something like a picture frame or a virtual "window" and have THAT be a their Cortana device. That would be sleek, different, and cool.

    Do people remember those digital picture frames of a few years ago. It would be something like THAT, but then...."Hey Cortana....." The picture transforms to Cortana and serves the information, then goes back to being a picture. 

    LOL..watch Apple make this. Amazon and Google will copy it and make and trump Apple and Microsoft will be left with their speaker just released to the market a 3 years too late.

    • Jim Parker

      There has got to be a way to hack our old Surface RT units to be able to do what you're describing.  I have 2 or 3 of them lying around that I would love to repurpose into Surface Cortana's.
      . In reply to Bats:


    • SvenJ

      In reply to Bats: I actually like the idea of a screened device for this sort of thing. I have a Sony Dash, which still works, BTW. It would be enhanced by being able to talk to something like it to bring up the various capabilities it has. If it interfaced with Home Control, even better. It's rumored the next Echo may have a screen (looks like a Dash to me). It would need to be priced right though and be versatile enough to mount on a wall or sit on a table. Various OEMs could fill the variations. I really don't need a sound system, I have that covered. I like my echo dot(s) for the convenience, of setting timers, alarms, interfacing with my Insteon stuff and Harmony remote. This unfortunately reeks of Windows Phone. Probably a good product, but too little too late. Echo and Google Home are already out there with established stores (skills). I don't expect this to ship with a great stable of interface options. Cortana doesn't work with all that much currently as far as I can tell. e.g. my windows phone(Cortana) can interface with Insteon, my desktop (Cortana) can not. It is way clunkier as well. I must initiate Cortana, and say Insteon, turn on the kitchen light. Cortana acknowledges, starts the Insteon app, navigates to the kitchen light and turns it on. This has taken up to 30 seconds. With Alexa, it is Alexa, turn on the kitchen light, and within a second the light comes on and Alexa says OK at about the same time. Maybe other home control systems work better, but Insteon was supposed to be a partner and was even sold in MS Stores. If this is how well their partners work......


    • glong

      In reply to Bats:

      Your Picture frame idea is amazing. That would be a differentiating product. And I would buy that.

      "Surface Frame" ... ugh. I will say, I hate when companies create a successful product and then name EVERYTHING afterwards using the same name. Hmm; Windows, Xbox, 360, Office, i'm sure there are others.


  12. xapache

    Something else I don't need but surprisingly want.

  13. F4IL

    This probably runs linux instead of windows IOT.

    EDIT: It actually does run on an old linux 3.8 kernel.

  14. Tony Barrett

    Unfortunately, it's got dud written all over it. Too little, too late Echo rip-off. I'm sure MS have thrown a lot of money at HK to co-develop this, but the consumer has given up on MS, so why should this make any difference.

    • Ugur

      In reply to Tony Barrett: I wouldn't go so far as to claim the consumer has given up on MS, i think that's off.
      The xbox one isn't doing horribly (selling half as much as PS4 is still ok by itself) and they could do a lot better with it if they have a bunch of great games to go with the Scorpio and the surface devices overall are liked. To me personally, most surface devices feel like showing great potential and i just wish MS would address these 5-10 software and hardware flaws in each and it would make me buy the entire lineup =)
      That's already a lot better than i can say from many other company's products right now (for example the entire mac lineup is horrible right now).

      I totally agree on your assessment of this device though and also regarding your assessment of MS hardware outside of mice, keyboards and other peripherals, xbox and the surface line.

      Basically things like Zune, Microsoft Band and this thing, too.
      Too often does MS (again, for things not peripherals and neither xbox nor surface line) announce or release hardware late to the party but then on top also in half hearted push seeming way to a degree where it then also does not sell great and then they stop support for it quickly instead of pushing it further continuously.

      The Zune came way late to the party for that device type, but just when it was coming into it's own, they stopped making them.
      And they never rolled them out world wide in first place, so how well could it have ever done then?

      (And note, i'm not a Zune fan boy, i haven't bought one, because, well, it was never available where i live).

      Then, similar story with the MS band: It actually had real potential and could have become a blockbuster device over a few refinement iterations.
      But no, again no timely world wide release and then again dropped supporting it quickly.

      I don't understand MS' approach on such hardware at all, don't they look at others to see that, hey, for most others it's not like they would nail it out of the park on all aspects with their first or even second gen devices either?
      The iPhone for example did not do gangbusters in iteration 1 or year 1, no, it took 2-3 years for it to take off fully.
      Android devices took a few more iterations until they got to that level but meanwhile are on many aspects ahead of iPhones.

      MS really has to change that stance that they release stuff in categories way later than others and then always do these half hearted rollouts and then give up on the entire category if it doesn't become a huge success within 2-3 iterations.

      If they have something in a category which obviously has a lot of potential (for example all surface devices right now), but people see this that and the other valid improvement suggestions, then yeah, improve it on those aspects asap and release an improved version asap and rule the day =)

      Like for example the surface studio is a device with huge potential, i would buy it right away for work (and actually not just one) if it allowed me to put in largest fastest ram amount, largest fastest ssd, high end desktop graphics card etc, or, at the very least, also allow me to use it as external monitor and have most and all commonly expected peripheral ports.

      But no, MS hears such feedback and instead of releasing a refined version within 9-10 months, i'm worried it will take another year if not more.

      Or regarding the surface laptop now, where there are reasonable requests for how to improve on the device presented and realise more of that great potential and make it real.
      I hope they don't sleep on that one, too.


  15. navarac

    Something else I don't need.

    Edit: Just as well as it only available in the "colony" :)

  16. mmcpher

    So I'm to set Invoke right beside my Amazon Echo (which really is neat except for the way it pretends Microsoft doesn't exist) to add to the already rancorous choir of virtual assistants? Maybe they'll start poaching each other's requests like over-eager teacher's pets, squirming and squealing in their seats "Oh! Pick me! Pick me! I know! I know!


    I use Cortana a lot on my Windows Mobile phone and its great except for the way it keeps parading the worst Spamish clickbait articles before me as targeted "news".


    I also have a new Samsung G8+and this Bixby guy keeps difadentily clearing his throat in the background trying to get my attention.* So I have Cortana, Bixby and whatever Google is up to vying for my soul and my default apps and settings. The G8+ keeps truing to ungallantly sabotage Cortana while Bixby tries to weedle his way into all my settings and my subconscious. Bixby is a polished and quiet foot-soldier in the wider war wherein Google overruns Microsoft's undermanned and ill-kitted Mobile front to infillade Windows from within. But it makes for a mess and really confuses the learning curve. Bixby has me on the verge of a Samsung App Purge which can not be within his brief.



    *  A most amazing cove, Jeeves. So dashed competent in every respect. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I mean to say, take just one small instance. Every other valet I've ever had used to barge into my room in the morning while I was still asleep, causing much misery; but Jeeves seems to know when I'm awake by a sort of telepathy. He always floats in with the cup exactly two minutes after I come to life. Makes a deuce of a lot of difference to a fellow's day. 


    "How's the weather, Jeeves?" 


    "Exceptionally clement, sir." 


    "Anything in the papers?" 


    "Some slight friction threatening in the Balkans, sir. Otherwise, nothing." 


    "I say, Jeeves, a man I met at the club last night told me to put my shirt on Privateer for the two o'clock race this afternoon. How about it?" 


    "I should not advocate it, sir. The stable is not sanguine." 


  17. wright_is

    I won't be able to try it... Bringing any device with a microphone into the house is grounds for divorce (phones excepted).

  18. Brandon Mills

    Microsoft is once again playing catchup and being too slow about it. Today Amazon released yet another Alexa product. Microsoft can't afford to just release the product Amazon released in 2014 in 2017. They need to match parity with Amazon and even surpass them in many ways. I need must-have features that Alexa cannot do, and I need this product marketed and advertised in a way such that I know it has a good chance of becoming a standard in homes, and not a one-off product that I'll be getting rid of while the rest of the world standardized on something else. I do actually use Cortana around the house. Favorite features - timers for doing laundry and setting location-based reminders for when I get to a place. However, regarding my reminders / to-do in Cortana, it's in it's own little world. MS just released a preview of it's Wunderlist replacement, which I already use and love, but has zero Cortana integration. In short, I want MS to succeed, but they are highly delusional on how much time they have to capture a market before it's too late.

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