(Pocket-lint) - Those of you who want to try Microsoft's assistant outside of your PC will be happy to hear that the Harman Kardon Invoke is now half off.
The smart speaker, which debuted last year with a $230 price tag, currently costs $108 on Amazon (US), a 53-per cent savings. Even better, it's on sale for $99.95 on Microsoft's store. It comes with built-in Cortana, which you can control by voice. Similar to Amazon Echo and Google Home, you can use Harman Kardon Invoke to play music, control smart home devices, create reminders, and much more.
Uniquely, however, it allows you to make and receive hands-free calls with Skype. Tech specs include a "proprietary 360-degree adaptive technology", as well as seven microphones, which allow the system to pick up and recognise your voice from any direction. It also uses "beam forming, echo cancellation, and noise reduction algorithms" in order to hear you in challenging environments.
Keep in mind Microsoft recently announced Cortana now works with IFTTT, a free service that makes it easy for you to chain your apps and devices together. It also announced Cortana works with more hardware partners, such as Ecobee, Honeywell Lyric, and LIFX. To set them up, just open Cortana on Windows 10, or launch the Cortana app, and add the devices under the Connected Home menu.
But the IFTTT compatibility is the most interesting bit. It helps open up Microsoft's assistant to third-party services. So, instead of waiting for these third-party companies to integrate Cortana and offer compatible features - like they currently do with Amazon Alexa, for instance, via Alexa Skills - Cortana can simply find “recipes” that already exist on IFTTT and connect them to their Cortana-enabled devices.
Microsoft's Cortana currently has around 230 skills. You can view a list of the most popular ones in our round-up here.