Cambridge Soundworks Drivers Windows 8' title='Cambridge Soundworks Drivers Windows 8' />The Weatherproof OontZ Angle 3 Plus The Next Generation of Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speakers, Designed and Engineered by Cambridge SoundWorks Crystal Clear D. Barbs Connected World tomorrows connected future is here today. Harman Kardon launched its Invoke Cortana powered speaker on October 2. Amazons Alexa and Google Home. As many reviewers have noted, the Cortana powered speaker is very late to the game. The hardware is terrific both in aesthetics and sound quality Id expect no less of HK and I think the product is currently great for very small apartments and particularly good for folks tied into Microsofts ecosystem of Cortana and Skype and OfficeOutlook. My Invoke speaker sits on a kitchen counter along with an Alexa enabled Echo Show and I have a Google Home device a few feet away. In a sense, I have the best of all worlds, but I certainly dont expect the average person to have all three flavors of digital assistant devices. Ive got an i. Phone and an Apple Watch, so I also have Siri available and of course Cortana is available on my Windows 1. All im plugging in is an aux cord to the computer into the green port. PCs. For Skype users, theres a nice promo for free calls to landlines and cellular read the fine print for areas covered. Using the Invoke speaker, I find that the calls I make sound great and the party Im calling does not detect any difference good or bad in quality or know that Im calling from a smart speaker. Since it sits on the kitchen counter, its a handy device for conversation there while my hands are covered in whatever and certainly the calls are better quality than yelling at a cordless handset in speaker mode in the same location. Sound Blaster Audigy is a product line of sound cards from Creative Technology. The flagship model of the Audigy family used the EMU10K2 audio DSP, an improved. One of my favorite features involves Cortanas location based reminders. Simply put, if I say Hey Cortana, remind me to buy Chapstick, Cortana asks when would you like to be reminded and I respond when I go to CVS. Cortana then advises me of the address of the closest CVS and asks if I want to be reminded there. I acknowledge, etc. Alan Jackson Greatest Hits Gratis. Cortana sets up the reminder. This reminder is configured across all Cortana devices and when Im driving by that CVS, Cortana pops up the reminder on my Apple Watch. I find this very handy when Im in the kitchen and need to set this kind of reminder. Neither Alexa or Google can do this although Alexa can set named reminders while Cortana and Google cannot. Calendar and Schedules for both Outlook and Office 3. Cortana and Invoke that I find really useful. Being part of the Microsoft ecosystem, both are available as Connected Services. I can ask for my schedule and set new appointments. While I can do this with Alexa, the Alexa skill requires that I re authenticate every so often, usually when my hands are covered in meatloaf mix when Im not at a computer. I am hopeful that the Cortana connections dont require the same down the road. Music on the Invoke. If you dont need whole home audio, the sound quality from the HK Invoke is terrific. But right now, the available music service offering through Cortana is missing some of the big names, but we know that Pandora is coming but havent heard anything about Deezer, and I guess it would be a long shot to expect Amazon Prime music via the Invoke. You can certainly pair another device via Bluetooth and play other music services over Bluetooth, but the quality can suffer. If you are a Groove Spotify customer, its pretty awesome. Playing music from Spotify via the Invoke as I work in the kitchen provides rich, full sound. As a speaker, its better than the original Echo from Amazon. If you have a multi floor home and want to fill the house with sound or are just moving around a lot, theres no way for a linked speaker experience with linked Invokes. Alexa now has a synchronized multi room audio function and of course there is Sonos. Im invested in a whole home Sonos system with Play 5 speakers and with the new Sonos One with Alexa on board, at the same price point as HK Invoke, I think it is going to be tough for HK Invoke to gain a large following. Perhaps down the road if the initial Invoke offering is successful, there will be enhancements to provide for multi room, whole house coverage. Time will tell. Connected Home. Ive got more Connected HomeSmart Home gear than most people. Cortanas Connected Home Skills arent enough for me, but may be good enough for folks with simpler needs. At launch, the Connected Home support is available for Wink, Insteon, Nest, Hue, and Smart. ThingsSamsung Connect Harman Kardon is owned by Samsung. Smart. Things enables more complex tasks involving multiple devices, etc. Harmony Hubs connected via Smart. Chemdraw For Excel Patch. Blood Of The Martyrs Dark Heresy. Things, I can turn on my Home Theater with a single command, Hey Cortana same for Alexa, turn on my movie theater which turns on the receiver, TV, and cable box etc. Ive got a lot of Hue colored lighting bulbs, Lightstrips, Bloom lamps and theres no support for changing colors or scenes and that is a biggie. Theres no group or room support either. The chandelier in my dining room has three Hue Candelabra lights, grouped under the name Chandelier. Theres no way Im going to tell Cortana to turn on three lights individually when all I need to do is tell Alexa to turn on the chandelier. Or turn on four individual lights in the living room, etc. Perhaps better connected home support is coming Well see. Skills. There is a huge gap of missing A list skills. Microsoft states that IFTTT is coming, but there is no timetable. Alexa, which admittedly has been out in the market for a long time, has the real edge on skills, including geeky ones like Harmony, Dyson, Roomba, etc. To. Do. Ist. Cortana supports Wunderlist, which is a lame duck app now owned by Microsoft that is not being actively developed. There are a few useful skills, certainly Dark Sky, Fitbit,i. Heart Radio, Tune. In and Headline News and maybe Food Network for recipes are useful to me and there are some that others might find useful. But most of the rest are entertainment. Just no comparison to what exists on the Alexa side. IFTTT will certainly help, but native skills are sorely needed. Im hoping that over time, there will be big improvements in Connected Home and Skills and that there will be a whole home solution for audio. Alexa and Cortana. This may fill in some of the gaps.