Harman Kardon's Cortana-powered Echo rival makes Skype calls

After a brief tease previous year, we've just gotten a better look at the Harman Kardon Invoke, a Microsoft Cortana-powered speaker coming soon to challenge Amazon Echo and Google Home.

After a leak earlier today that revealed information about its upcoming product, Harman Kardon has officially unveiled the Invoke smart speaker that's powered by Cortana.

Premium Sound: Harman Kardon high-quality sound featuring 3 woofers and 3 tweeters give full range, true 360-degree sound. Cortana can set reminders, make lists, manage calendars, provide answers to questions, and much more.

For Microsoft, the Invoke aids the company's long-term plans for its Cortana assistant. But while we know that the Lenovo device will cost $179.99, we still don't have any pricing on the Invoke, and while we reached out to Microsoft, the company wouldn't share the price at this time.

Users will be able to ask Cortana questions, catch up on the news, manage their calendars and perform numerous other tasks.

Where Cortana has strength is that it is part of every Windows 10 PC and is gaining a following in cars, and Android mobile devices, especially those that are using Skype and Office 365/Outlook.

At Microsoft's Build Conference, there are many sessions on Cortana and the launch of the Cortana Skills Kit is imminent. Harmon Kardon plans to begin shipping the device only in the US this fall.

Back in November, Google launched its own smart speaker called Home in the United States and made it available in the United Kingdom earlier last month, while Apple's Siri-based smart speaker has been in prototype testing since last fall and is scheduled for release in the second half of 2017.

Like the Amazon Echo, far-field voice recognition technology with seven microphones will allow the speaker to recognize commands event from across a crowded room. That should make for sound quality more in line with a premium, high-end speaker than its competitors.

Apple Inc.is rumored to be working on a smart-speaker device that uses its Siri digital assistant.

It is also unclear what apps will be available when the Invoke debuts. First, Google put out the Google Home and now Microsoft has the "Invoke".

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