The speaker will soon be accessible for US$199.95 at Best Buy, Microsoft Stores and other retail outlets at the U.S. beginning Sunday.
Like Amazon’s Echo lineup and Google’s Home speakers, Invoke enables users play audio, handle calendars, set reminders, assess traffic, capture information reports, and command additional intelligent home devices.
The Invoke enables users tap on Skype to make calls for smartphones, landlines and other Skype-enabled apparatus.
Additionally, it integrates with Microsoft Office programs.
The Invoke earned points from reviewers because of its layout, audio quality, and integration with Microsoft Office.
But, its constraints didn’t go undetected. Even though it supports some audio solutions, it doesn’t encourage Pandora. Additionally, it doesn’t encourage Gmail or Google Calendar. Since few clever device manufacturers support Cortana, its own ecosystem is modest.
The Invoke has entered a market that currently is quite aggressive. It is dominated by Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, but other opponents are lining up. Apple’s HomePod is anticipated to be available in December.
The $200 price point has attracted criticism. Amazon’s flagship Echo is priced at $99 and Google’s Home sells for $130. Google reportedly plans to launch a $100 version shortly.
The Sound of Music
“The Invoke has stronger speakers compared to [Echo or Google Home], also … seems a whole lot better,” noted Dan Seifert in his review for The Verge.
“It’s real bass response, which can be all but non-existent at the other people,” he pointed out.
“You do get what you pay for,” said Ray Wang, chief analyst in Constellation Research.
“That is in the mid century of speakers in its course,” he told TechNewsWorld.
The Invoke now supports iHeartRadio, Tunein and Spotify, noted Todd Haselton in his critique for CNBC. This “leaves out Pandora, the hottest streaming alternative, along with other heavy hitters such as Google Play Music and Apple Music.”
Service for Pandora was sworn, Business Insider’s Todd Weinberger pointed out.
Having couple music support options may not be a deal breaker, however.
“Individuals have a tendency to discover a music service that they reside on and likely do not change between audio services since it is a pain in the buttocks,” observed Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
“So it isn’t quite as large a problem as you would think,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Invoke users may get calendar data from Outlook and Office 365 accounts, and may add things to a to-do listing in the Cortana program, but “I could not observe any of those calendar appointments within my Google Calendar accounts,” The Verge’s Seifert explained.
Invoke “also could not control or access my to-do record or buying list in Todoist,” he added, but both the Echo and Google Home could.
The Invoke will encourage Gmail and Google Calendar later on, Business Insider’s Matt Weinberger wrote, mentioning a Microsoft spokesperson.
Being incapable use the Invoke to store might not be as much of a problem since it sounds, Enderle suggested. “Lots of folks still are not shopping online however, never mind using voice commands to store.”
Amazon Echo can control Amazon Fire TVs. Google Assistant, that induces the Google Home, may restrain Google Chromecasts or some other Chromecast-powered TV, Seifert wrote.
Cortana “can not command a Microsoft Xbox One or some other TV-connected gadget, at least not yet,” he pointed out.
Microsoft and Amazon are working to create Cortana and Alexa interoperable, which probably would expand the Invoke’s ecosystem.
Battling to get a Voice
Apple’s HomePod might not be an immediate danger to Invoke, since “Apple is constructing a closed smart house environment, and Microsoft is more receptive,” Michael Jude, research director at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan, told TechNewsWorld.
Microsoft wants a product such as Invoke, since “the fights for audio in the house, at work, at the automobile, and in movement are all converging,” Constellation’s Wang noted. “Microsoft can’t afford to not have a product on the marketplace if they intend to stay relevant to customers.”