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Should a Windows enthusiast pick Invoke over an Amazon Echo?

There's something to be said for tribalism when it comes to our digital ecosystems. More often than not you tend to get a pretty apples to, erm, apples experience when your hardware and software all come from the same company. Android and Google. Mac OS, iOS and Apple. Windows and Microsoft.

But that's not to say that there isn't plenty of cross-pollenization. Google services work pretty much everywhere. And Microsoft has done a great job of getting its services on pretty much everything.

In the world of digital assistants and hardware, Amazon Alexa and the Echo speakers still rule the roost. But Microsoft now has Invoke, its smart speaker powered by Cortana. It's $199 (opens in new tab), and only available in the United States. Amazon Echo, on the other hand, has more (and less expensive options), and a Skills ecosystem that's far more mature.

So what's a Windows user to do? Get an Invoke and stay with the tribe? Or just get an Echo, like most everybody else.

Hey, Cortana

As with everything else, it really comes down to services. The Invoke is in and of itself a really good speaker. It sounds great. It looks great. The little details like the Cortana light up top are a great touch. Invoke is definitely as good as the $149 Echo Plus when it comes to sound quality. And certainly better than the $99 Echo. There's a reason why Microsoft paired up with Harman Kardon, and it shows. (And, uh, you can hear it, too.)

But when it comes to the integrated services — Skills, they're called — Invoke and Cortana lag far behind Echo in most respects.

For me, as often as not, it comes down to what you use for music. If you're a Spotify Premium subscriber, you're golden. Invoke and Cortana rock that. Same goes for TuneIn Radio and iHeartRadio. That's actually going to cover a lot of folks. But if you're deep into Apple Music, Google Music or Amazon Music, you're left out here. (There's a discoverable 'why' when looking at service names and the companies that own them, right?) Sure, you can Bluetooth any device into the Invoke, and play music that way. But that sort of defeats the purpose.

Cortana's connected home skills are pretty lacking at this point, too. That's not to say there's no overlap, and having access to Samsung Smart Things will make up for a lot. But there's just no denying that we're talking a few scant dozens of Skills for Cortana versus thousands and thousands for Alexa. That'll change once Microsoft and Amazon get their reciprocity thing going — Cortana and Alexa will share skills. But even then, we'll have to wait and see how well all that works. Are we still dealing with an added layer of complexity? Or will Alexa Skills on the Invoke work just as well (and as simply) as Skills on an Echo?

Amazon Echo works well with Windows 10

Smart Windows

Harman Kardon Invoke Speaker

Invoke Speaker (Image credit: Windows Central)

There's no one real reason to buy an Invoke, but loads of reasons to get a less-expensive Echo.

Invoke — OK, Cortana — does have a couple tricks up its sleeve. Being able to make calls through Skype is something nobody else can do. (Though Alexa and Google can both make traditional calls, as well as call other devices.) For me, though the bigger deal is the Cortana integration in Windows 10. Seamlessly getting phone calls and notifications on a Windows machine — whether you're using Android or iOS — is one of those things that we've seen tried any number of ways over the years, to varying degrees of success. Microsoft has made it easy here.

But that last part is less about the Invoke and more about Cortana. (It's really just a nice side-effect of setting up Cortana on your phone in the first place.)

So if you're a Windows person, should you buy an Invoke over an Echo?

For me, it comes down to the price. You don't really get anything more for the extra $50 you're going to pay for the Invoke, and that's if the Echo Plus isn't on sale, which it often is. Invoke looks better, and it sounds a little better. But it's definitely more limited at the moment. And we just don't know how much smarter it's going to get over time. The Echo, on the other hand, has a proven track record.

On the other hand, maybe that extra $50 or 75 you're going to pay for an Invoke is just the price you pay for staying with the Microsoft ecosystem.

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

81 Comments
  • The Invoke in on sale for $100 now at Microsoft.... https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/d/Harman-Kardon-Invoke-with-Cortan...
  • That's a great deal. I told my wife last week I wanted one of these, but to be honest, that's probably because I'm not in the market for this kind of device yet and it just sounds neat to have. If I were honest about it, if I were looking, I would probably go Amazon. But since I went to a Microsoft user group Christmas party last night and won one as a door prize, I guess now I'll be seeing how long the Invoke lasts before they kill it. This thing does sound good. I'll have to compare it later to my JBL Power-Up speaker for sound quality.
  • i picked up an invoke during the black friday...the speaker's quality itself is worth $100...you get Cortana for free... I had an echo...returned it and got myself an echo dot for my bedroom...it spies on me... all day... everyday!!
  • From Mobile App Gap to AI Skills Gap... did Nadella just miss the bend in the road he was looking for?
  • If I was on the market for a product like this, then I would go with Amazon. My brother has one and the thing is really, really impressive. Amazon seem to have worked their ass off and when you think of this category of tech, you think Amazon. Same thing with E-Book readers, you think Kindle. Even IF Microsoft had just as good a product, which they don't, they simply don't know how to shout about it. They don't know how to communicate or advertise. They can't be arsed. Everytime they release something new, everything in the way they deliver it is so limited in vision and lacks direction. It is like they're testing the waters, but they play it so safe it backfires.
  • For me the Invoke speaker isn't even available here in the UK so it's out of the question already. The only choice I have to make is between Google Home and Amazon Echo, the Echo seems better for home automation but Home seems better for multiple users.
  • To me, it's not that Microsoft doesn't have vision.  Look at Windows Mobile, Band 1 and 2, Groove, etc.  They were good products, it's just that they either change their minds too much or are too quick to kill them.
  • This is one of those times when I reluctantly have to side with the MS bashers.  MS has a track record (Phone, Band, Groove, various web sites) of shuttering products that don't perform as expected, revenue-wise.  Amazon's Echo devices are an unqualified success; Invoke is late, and I have no confidence that MS won't simply drop the concept if the Invoke doesn't hit initial sales targets.  The only saving grace to Harmon Kardon is that they also sell Google Home devices, so they have an exit strategy (simply re-flash the devices for GH).  
  • The Invoke isn't a Microsoft Product: It's a JBL product.
  • It seemes microsoft wants OEMs to build smart gadgets based on Windows IoT..that's why they are not doing it themselves... I think they should let XBox division work independently to build premium smart home and wearable products....just like surface is showcasing the windows platform...xBox platform with it's console , gadgets and services can showcase Microsoft's idea of being a plattform of platforms :) I think it's a great idea...
  • Actually it's a Harman Kardon product not JBL
  • JBL, AKG Harman Kardon... All brands under one umbrella which is owned by Samsung. So basically, it's a Samsung product :)
  • Maybe if there was an ecosystem and not just 1 device then MS' option would be enticing.... but MS hasn't had the greatest track record with hardware lately beyond the surface line. Will the invoke still be supported a year or 2 down the line? Then there's price. I have a few echo dots with 1 wired into a nice speaker, and that all cost less than $115...
  • Well they are doing the same thing with this as they did with the Zune, only available in the US. Get it into the hands of people worldwide and people will buy it.
  • The Invoke in on sale for $100 now at Microsoft.... https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/d/Harman-Kardon-Invoke-with-Cortan...  
  • Well, I'd add Xbox as another hardware product with relatively good success.
  • Invoke is an easy choice for this Microsoft fan.  I wouldn't even consider a competing product.  Too me, each of these spy listening devices are all unnecessary gimiks.  I do not like the idea of some technology listening at all times.  The microphone array is excellent and has no problem picking up my voice when I am down the hall about 40 feet.  I use my Invoke each day and it meets my needs for voice queries.  I use it periodically to control my Insteon devices such as lights.  I would never place an order using any of these devices.  I am a keyboard and screen type of guy when it comes to ordering stuff.
  • I have INSTEON too and seems to work well from PC and iOS so I ordered the invoke for the sale price here is to hoping they improve connected home, would love to see device management and grouping in Cortana...
  • If you don't like 'spy listening devices' that are listening at all times, you should probably ditch your phone.  It does all of that plus is a location tracker with direct access to all of your data. I always find it odd that people worry about Alexa/Home/Cortana but happily carry a smartphone with far more surveillance capability in thier pocket all day, and sleep with it next to their bed.
  • I very reluctantly asked for an Invoke as an X-Mas present, since it was on sale for $100. I tell myself that, if cortana support gets pulled, I'll at minimum have a very capable bluetooth speaker. The cross platform nature of Cortana as a digital assistant really appeals to me, and I love getting reminders on every device that I own, regardless of which one I used to set it.  I tell myself (probably foolishly) that since all of Cortana's processing is on the back-end and since she is so baked into the Windows 10 in general, that they won't pull support on this specific product in the next year or two...and this will somehow insulate it from what has happened to Groove, Band, Mobile....alas, only time will tell. 
  • MS claims that there are over 148 millions active Cortana daily users at present.  Obviously they are mostly the W10 users.  That number can only grow with the growing W10 user base in the coming years.  I think that Cortana, Echo and Google Assistant can all live together, each has its own wake word without conflict.  But Cortana has the advantage of cross platform support.  I doubt that MS will ever pull Cortana from W10 even the Cortana speakers aren't doing that well.  HomeHub is MS's future platform.
  • Sure Cortana has cross platform support.  But here's my experience.  I used Cortana on my L950 and not on any of my computers/laptops.  Microsoft kills mobile therefore I no longer use Cortana because they forced me to Android.
  • I bet this thing will die faster than the Microsoft Band. The problem is there is no committment from Microsoft to anything. no one knows where they are heading to. With Nutella MS will only be successful as a cloud provider.  
  • I picked one up to mainly use it for music and calls to act as house phone. Works great but can't call contacts from my MS account just my skype account. No one at MS seems to know how setup correctly for this issue. Agree the launch see a to be a half ass approach...
  • How can you tell which account it is using? Do you have a different phone number attached to the two accounts? My mobile number is attached to all my account profiles, and when I tested calling from Invoke by dictating my phone number rather than calling by name, my mobile number and Facebook profile picture popped up on the phone's caller ID.
  • I got both and I have to say while I love the Invoke for listening to music and asking questions, it just falls behind my Echo when it comes to controlling my home. For instance, Cortana takes 3 times as long to turn on my bedroom lights compared to my Echo which is about twice as slow as my Google home.
  • Damn you have all three!
  • Yes my wife tells me to choose one. I want to say Invoke, but it's her home control that is really holding her back.
  • It might be a fight for that device that's slowing it down. 
  • That's what I would have thought but reviewers have said the same thing
  • I'm playing around with a dot and a google home as well.  I have no interest in the Invoke.  I've been burnt too many times.  For me the Alexa has more functionality/integration than the Google home.  But the Google home has better sound quality.  The only reason I have google's device is because I got it free with my Nest purchase.
  • When in England
  • I am curious about the partnership with Alexa “This Year” it’s a ready almost next year and not a peep on progress or status...
  • Got mine for $99 from the Microsoft.  I am in the Microsoft environment, have PC, tablest and a Windows Phone so decided for the Invoke.  Sound quality is really excellent and the microphone will pick up commands from the second floor of my house at times.  I like it overall but hope they keep it going
  • You seem to be fully vested in the Microsoft ecosystem.  Are you blogging your experience?  I would enjoy reading articles about how the setup works.
  • Pretty good buy at the current sale price. Excellent build and sound, which is important for many of its use. It now works with google calendar. Works well with W10, Outlook. As these devices are changing each year, it really depends on what you are using this for and for how long. I certainly don't want to buy a cheap speaker that becomes obsolete in a year or two. Even if Invoke doesn't get much software improvement, the sound quality is what makes it a better long lasting device that you will actually use.
  • Help me out folks - anyone know if Invoke/Cortana can do room to room calling? The echo can and we're always yellin' for the kids to do something. Love the natural language of Cortana. Other just haven't matched that yet.
  • I thought long and hard about getting one but I ended up going with Google Home. They were on sale at Walmart for $29 for mini and $79 for regular but I got $25 gift cards with them. You can't really beat that deal. After using Cortana for a while to control my hue lights I didn't mind the response time but now having the gh responses are so quick and the lights react to the command before Cortana can even finish thinking about doing the task. It's been a pleasent experience. I'm just waiting on Cortana to mature a little. I was a diehard Windows fan. Windows Phone, Xbox, Surface, Desktop PC, MS Band, Groove - I mean everything I needed was MS. Then they started dropping products...and off to Android I went. I still use Cortana from time to time (especially on my Xbox) but I can't see continuing on in the MS ecosystem.
  • "But that's not to say that there isn't plenty of cross-pollenization. Google services work pretty much everywhere. And Microsoft has done a great job of getting its services on pretty much everything." Apple services.......?  I am thinking you forgot something in that paragraph, please feel free to complete it.
  • I purchased an Invoke as an impulse buy because I saw the Black Friday sale price after Microsoft sent me a $10 store gift card.  I've had it set up for about 3 days.  I don't really have much use for it other than checking the weather when I'm getting ready for work instead of going to the computer or picking up my phone. I do have a slight issue. Cortana starts listening at random times while watching TV. The first few times I noticed it, there was music or an explosion sound coming from the TV. Then last night while I was out, my brother texted from home asking if I was remotely interacting with the Invoke. He said he was watching TV and Cortana kept randomly interrupting to say something like "I'm sorry, I don't know the answer to that right now, but I'm always learning."
  • My echo would do this from time to time as well.
  • If MS still had a mobile play, I'd consider the Invoke, but since they don't and I've moved on, Cortana doesn't have as much appeal. I've been able to try Cortana, Siri, and Alexa. I thought Cortana was kinda limited on my Lumia and never use it on my Win 10 laptop. Siri works okay too. The Echo works amazingly well and it handles smart home tasks, plays my Amazon music (wish it could play my Groove music collection), and integrates with my Outlook.com calendar. I get more use out of the Echo than I thought I would. Echo for the win.
  • The Invoke does all those things you just listed.
  • The Echo can integrate with much more smart home devices than any other service right now.
  • Echo Dot is $30 right now. I connected it to an old Logitech iPod speaker I have via audio jack. It's got great sound.  Alexa decrease the Bass, perfect.  if Microsoft is going to play in this market they will have to move at the spped of light to catch up else they will suffer the same fate as in the phone market. 
  • I just bought one yesterday for $99 at Best Buy. $199 is too much IMO, but $99 is just right. Heck even for just a good bluetooth speaker that's worth it. The thing really looks and feels premium and sounds amazing. Cortana sounds like a real person in my house. I'm looking forward to adding reminders, calendar appointments, wunderlist tasks that sync across mine and my wife's devices and making skype calls. 
  • So ended up with 3 Invoke devices (bedroom, living room, my office) and made the switch from a Wiser Air thermostat to an Ecobee 4 w/Alexa (because Schneider told me in an email they have halted developments probably because Microsoft slowed support). I was going to post this in the forum but so far I have to say between Cortana and Alexa it's pretty even if not in favor of Cortana. First off, if you don't have a Smart Hub of some sort (SmartThings, Wink, etc.) Don't bother getting the Invoke because without integration to other devices, it is really just a nice to have. I have SmartThings and connected the Ecobee and four of my wife's iHome plugs to it. When changing the temperature, Cortana seamlessly turns on/off whichever light. When trying the same command with Alexa she says the devices are too similarly named (I believe a few say "Christmas ____") so I found that strange since the SmartThings integration with Cortana is fairly new. Also when using the Ecobee, Cortana is a lot smoother as far as speech recognition to change the temperature whereas with Alexa we kinda had to figure out what to say to be honest. For playing music, Cortana works really well with iHeart radio, which surprised me cause I'm not a iHeart/Pandora fan. We ended up getting Spotify premium through my student discount (yay, being a returned dropout) but quickly ran into a snag. So if you have multiple Invokes connected to one account, trying to play music on another one in another room will stop play. To get around this we had to get the Spotify family plan, then I signed into each Invoke with a different Microsoft account (my main, my wife's, and my alternate), then created a family membership for each email. Clunky, but it works now to have different music playing in each room if needed. My next test will be to change a wall switch to a Z-Wave then add to the SmartThings hub and see how Cortana and Alexa play with it. Back to the Alexa vs. Cortana - I looked through all the Alexa skills and you know.... most of that stuff is useless trash to me. It's like the app debate. Sure, you can have a million skills but if 40% are fart noises or tell me a joke, are you really a leader or are developers just trying to get in where the crowd is? If you are getting into a Smart Home, the better question is what hub do you want to go with because that is going to determine what you can connect and really do. TL:DR - Microsoft needs to invest heavily on the speech recognition for multiple users. It's gotta happen otherwise people with multiple accounts will get frustrated quickly trying to get others in the same house to adopt. Microsoft needs to figure out the "Hey Cortana" debacle for multiple devices in listening ear, my computer, Invoke, and phone don't all need to take action. Harmon Kardon & Microsoft need to figure out how to enable multiple device linking. If they only allow this in a "version 2" that someone needs to rebuy, the appeal will die instantly. Look into hubs more than Assistants. Without a Hub though Cortana is not as good as Alexa, with a Hub Cortana is just as good and probably better if you are already used to it.
  • Pairadyce - thanks for the mult-device review.  Since you have multiple - any room to room calling feature on the Invoke?  Thanks.
  • No, not that I am aware of. Although if you set it up like me with different accounts, there is no reason why you couldn't skype call another device if you name it correctly. I could save my second account as "Bedroom" and say "Call bedroom on Skype" and that would work.
  • "For me, it comes down to the price. You don't really get anything more for the extra $50 you're going to pay for the Invoke, and that's if the Echo Plus isn't on sale, which it often is. Invoke looks better, and it sounds a little better. But it's definitely more limited at the moment. And we just don't know how much smarter it's going to get over time. The Echo, on the other hand, has a proven track record." If you had researched more, you would find out that the invoke even after Black Friday sale is still as we speak at $99. While you stated that the echo plus might soon be on sale which you don't know, you totally failed to give the Invoke same speculation. I participated in the pre-order as Beta testers of Echo when it was launched at $99 and was sold for $199 when it laughed. As a beta tester then with my $99 echo, it was very very limited in skill sets, point is that, Echo's Rome was not built in one day or its launch year. Give Cortana and Invoke room to breathe, after a year, if you do not see improvement then bash hard. I also pre-ordered Invoke, not as a beta tester as such paid $199, Our kids love it and we got 2 more during black Friday for $99 each. Note: As you have stated, my household of seven MSFT services entrenched. 5 of us use windows phone, 2 uses iPhones. The 2 with iPhones laded and tweaked them to MSFT services and we are also Amazon prime members.
  • I was thinking the same thing. I ordered an invoke on December 7 after seeing the Black Friday price was still available. I was only looking at the Microsoft Store online because they sent me a free $10 gift card.
  • Mute, as not available anywhere so this is just a discussion about what device as a person living in the US buy. What would be news worthy is wider availability and even better a nice price. Until then we will stick with the other options. It pains me to say it though but this device has all the hall marks of a too little to late about it.
  • If it had suported Google Play Music, then absolutely. Considering Cortana supports Google Calendar now, this may be a possibility one day. 
  • If it had suported Google Play Music, then absolutely. Considering Cortana supports Google Calendar now, this may be a possibility one day. 
  • For me to consider I would need: 1) ecobee support
    2) Xbox skill to replace Kinect for voice commands
    3) smart lighting support
    4) 3rd party music support (google / amz)
    5) Harmony hub support I haven't gotten into the Smart things ecosystem, but I suppose that would solve some of this.
  • 1 is supported with a hub, 2 would be nice, 3 is supported with a hub, 4 & 5 hopefully in the future
  • Samsung smart things specifically?
  • I know for Sure with SmartThings because I have one but Wink may work as well
  • Alexa said that they are more than 2 genders so I still have hope for Cortana.
  • Consumer product, Microsoft... Ha ha ha ha...
  • Surface... Xbox??  They still have a couple left that's doing well.
  • The Invoke offers superior sound, and it's more purrty. So yes, there is a single reason. Also, if you use Cortana, it's a breeze to setup the Invoke and everything is already linked - Skype, contacts, accounts, email, smart home hub, etc.
  • I don't get the whole smart home deal.  Why do people complain about paying $200 for Invoke when the spend much more on various smart devices (thermostats, lights, etc.).  I have Spotify premium.  The Invoke has great sound quality in the right conditions (place speaker about 10 feet from your sitting location in a room about 15 feet by 15 feet.  This gives the speaker array in the invoke an ability to defuse the sound more evenly around the room.  I would expect that in the near future, you will be able to link several invokes for stereo or surround sound. I have a programmable thermostat.  I have 5 daily set points for the weekdays and Sunday and Saturday have their own 5 set points.  I know I will go to sleep at a usual time so that is when I lower the temp.  I know when I get up so A program the temp to rise.  Why buy a $100 plus thermostat to be able to command by voice? I guess it would be nice to command remotely for the odd situations.
  • I dont understand why anyone would pay $200 for an average speaker when you can get a better one for the same price? I have upgraded my house to be a smart home. And went with the Echo Plus which is cheaper and sounds just as well. What is it the Invoke can do that Echo Plus cannot do better? 
  • So which is it?
    An average speaker, better or just as well? Anyway, I paid $99 for the Invoke and yes the sound quality and volume is superior. I have Smartthungs/Z- wave smart home devices throughout my home. Motion sensors, cameras, switches, outlets, thermostat and door locks. All of which work great. Alexa is awesome, it's obvious that - just like mobile phones - people are picking sides and being fan boys. Even the writers/editors at this site. Fact is, there's room for multiple devices in the market and the Invoke is a great option too.
  • I didn't buy my smart thermostat to be able to command by voice.  Although it's nice that I can.  I went with a smart thermostat to integrate with my smart home security system.  When I leave the house, it knows to arm my system and shut off the Air/heat.  It also knows when I'm working from home and sets the temperature to a comfy level.  And as you said, for those times when i'm on vacation and forget to shut off the Air/heat, i can do it remotely.
  • I purchased the Cortana Invoke the day it came out and have not regretted it a day since. I use it everyday. I use the free version of TuneIn and it works fine for me. I downloaded the TuneIn app from the Microsoft Store, set the app up, and chose the stations, sports, news, podcasts, etc. I like and Cortana plays them very well. I also have it connected to my Fitbit and it works great. I just got into the Smart Home front in the past couple of weeks. I have the Phillips Hue Lighting system and it was so easy to set up using the Phillips Hue app from my Android Phone with the Invoke, and it works perfectly. I have 5 lights connected and I am thrilled with its operation. I find no delay when the lights come on or off after command. I also love the integration with my email and calendar, reminders, alarms, timers, etc. Cortana was surprisingly more conversational than I thought she would be, and she really has a good sense of humor, lol. You just have to be very specific with the commands you give her to get the results you want. Example: "Hey Cortana, ask Fitbit how many steps I took today." or "Hey Cortana, ask TuneIn to play 101.5". Plus she can hear me from any room in my home. I come home from being away and say "Hey Cortana, I'm home" and I am amazed at her responses. It is almost like talking to a human, lol. I have really enjoyed the device.   I just wish she was more tightly integrated with the Groove Music or from OneDrive regarding playing music. Looking forward to additions with her skill set, and I hope MSFT will continue with her development. The speaker is awesome with deep, resonating, clear and crisp sound. I would highly recommend purchasing one.
  • The main reason I went with Alexa was because I wanted a portable speaker (so I got the Tap). If they made a portable invoke I would be all over that. Especially ones that could pair in stereo!
  • Ecosystem > skills to me. I'm not interested in buying into Amazon's beyond their Kindle. That said, I'm also not interested in having a smart speaker listen to everything I say.
  • Nokia had a great product and look what we did to it.... its not enough to have a great product when no one else supports it, as proved by our phone failure. This will fail without the smart home hub aspect. Yes, I went and bought an Echo Plus which has a home hub built. You are not addingin the cost of the home hub to Invoke so its basically an expensive speaker. But, in the words of a shameless CEO, I dont understand the need for a 3rd digital assistant home hub thinga majigy?
  • For a $100 plus Samsung's SmartThings hub at $50 (both half off) you have a good speaker that controls smart home devices. At $200 and $100 for the hub, you have a point.
  • I bought this at the 100 price. So far pretty good. Responds slower than Alexa, but works just as well. Better voice for Cortana and the Speaker is really good and loud
  • One thing I do know is MSFT isn't looking at ending Cortana anytime soon.  In fact there has been a lot of smart AI research being conducted with regards to Cortana.  The Cortana/Alexa collaboration is to bridge the gap between MSFT and Amazon, and to get MSFT more integrated with Amazon users.   The sound quality is amazing for the Invoke, which doesn't surprise me being a product of Harmon Kardon, and if you're dailed in to the MSFT ecosystem as I am, and not reliant on home skills, if you can get an Invoke for say $100 I think it's a no brainer.
  • It should be noted that the question is valid only for American leaders for the rest of the world the question does not even hold true because well Cortana is it even available anywhere elss. Alexa on the other hand is available in almost every country on the world today and has offerings at every different price points without discriminating Alexa gets a huge win from me because well the simple reason is I can buy in LXI in my home country but I cannot buy a quote on a speaker also to be noted I cannot buy a Google speaker on Apple speaker as well here's the only speaker smart speaker available have is a alexas so that is what works for me
  • Yet again it seems that Microsoft likes to play "catch up" by going slower than the competition. I'd love to be able to use Cortana the way I use Alexa, Cortana could be present on every computer I use, but yet again it's down to "the apps" (although here it's about compatibility).   HomeSeer is not supported (which is the case for most home automation systems, sadly). Eight Sleep is not supported. Fitibt is only limited supported. Anova (precision cooker) is not supported. No IFTTT integration. No other way to integrate a users own custom skills. No public API.
  • Cortrigga is an app that allows customization of Cortana commands and also offers IFTTT integration. I use a Samsung Smartthings hub to control my home, it integrates with Cortana and IFTTT as well.
  • And Alexa's two tone blueish green light ring is soothing. The angry red light ring on the Invoke reminds me of HAL locking Dave outside the pod bay door.
  • The Invokes light is blue and more animated than Alexas. The red light? Never seen it, must be a pairing error light, put on display by the haters on this site who have clearly chosen the Alexa - judging by their last three articles.
  • As a Windows Dork from way back, I want to embrace Cortana and Invoke.  But she is still too much of a rube to be of practical use to me, so I do not consider an investment in the Invoke a practical venture at this point.  I took advantage of Black Friday to implement my smart home design with the purchase of a couple of Amazon Echo Dots, a wi-fi switch and some smart bulbs.  I am enjoying the setup immensely -- it is very utilitarian.  Additionally, I received a free Google Home Mini with the recent purchase of my Pixel 2 XL, and it, too, has proven to be very useful.  The bottom line is, Cortana just isn't there yet.  That stated, the Invoke speaker seems cool, and I'm keeping my eye on it, because I enjoy having the resources to be able to tinker with things that pique my interest -- and AI hardware, in particular, is something that definitely piques my interest.
  • Microsoft has led a slow burn of constant disapointment for their most ardent fans over the last two years. I am very shy about buying anything Microsoft for at least another two years now. Their track record is dismal! Truth be told, I don't see the need for one of these devices, but I probably would have bought one of these 18 months ago, just because I was passionate about Microsoft mobile stuff, and I would have bought one just to help Cortana succeed. Now, I probably hurt more than help Microsoft. I talk people out of any device from Microsoft because they burned us all so bad without even the hint of remorse. So until I settle my ecosystem loyalties, I probably won't buy anything of this sort from Amazon, Google, or Microsoft. Now that my windows smart phone is quickly becoming a dumb phone, and a poor one at that, I'm no longer a loyal Microsoft user. I am currently shopping my loyalties. Currently, Microsoft is at the bottom. 
  • Is it even sold outside the US? Frankly, I was excited about Cortana about four years ago, but that interest has dwindled to almost nothing as it's become apparent Microsoft (even all this time later) isn't capable or willing to roll this thing out fully-featured to anyone else at any speed. There are english first language countries that don't even have it at all so frankly, Cortana has been a giant disappointment. I wonder how much life it has left before the usage numbers (actual usage) send it to the MS Graveyard.