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Rabbit R1: I spent 17 hours with it — and something’s iffy about it

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“Hm, this is a lot wider than I expected,” I said when I held the Rabbit R1 for the first time. Laying flat on my hand, the vivid, electric orange chassis exceeded the span of my palm.


Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

No, it’s not the most comfortable gadget to hold with its unforgiving flat edges, but it’s not unwieldy either. Buttons, including the scrolling wheel and the push-to-talk button, are strategically placed, allowing my fingers to navigate the Rabbit R1 with ease.

When people gushed about the Rabbit R1, calling it a “beautiful gadget,” I didn’t get it — until I saw it with my own eyes. “That bright orange chassis is an eyesore,” I thought. “What’s the big deal?” But now I get it. It’s the nostalgia.

With the cute black-and-white rabbit icon bouncing up and down the screen surrounded by a “loud” color, the device reminded me of my childhood obsession with ’90s pocket toys like the Tamagotchi or Digimon (handheld virtual pets).

Shout-out to Teenage Engineering for designing this AI device; the Rabbit R1 makes me feel like a kid again.

Woman clutching the Rabbit R1


Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

While the Rabbit R1 stirs up memories of the past, I can’t help but feel a bit iffy about the gadget. Why? I’ll get it into that, but first, my first impressions.

The gestures are addictive

There’s something very fidget spinner toy-esque about the Rabbit R1 in that the functions all operate differently, whether it’s a scrolling wheel or a clicky side button.

The scrolling wheel, to my surprise, is very smooth. In other words, it doesn’t have that “staccato” feel, if that makes sense, in which the wheel has fits and starts (à la Apple’s digital crown), allowing you to stop at selections.

Woman holding Rabbit R1


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

Instead, you have to keep rolling the wheel downward until your desired word is highlighted in orange. Truthfully, I don’t love the scrolling wheel. It takes too many “rolls” to get to the word I want to select.

On the plus side, you can shake the device to invoke the Settings menu. I’m telling you — it’s like a Bop It toy.

It has a 2.88-inch screen, but no, it can’t browse the web

The Rabbit R1 has a touchscreen in that you can enable a virtual keyboard to appear, allowing you to make prompts that way.

However, as far as using your fingers to navigate RabbitOS, that’s not happening. You’ll have to use the scroll wheel and select by using the side button.

Woman holding Rabbit R1 with both hands


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

You may be wondering, “Can I browse the web with this thing?” The answer is no. If you had dreams of using this as some sort of mini reading device, I’ve got no choice but to dash them. Plus, you wouldn’t want to — the screen is too dim for that.

No, it doesn’t text or make calls

The Rabbit R1 can do a lot of things, but sending texts and making calls isn’t one of them. This was admittedly a bit disappointing. Before grabbing this device, I had fantasies of dictating texts to friends without lifting a finger.

Rabbit R1 on a neon-lit platform


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

However, I quickly realized that the Rabbit R1 can’t be connected to my phone. Boo!

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Faster-than-expected responses

From my asking about the local weather (it’s 59 degrees today in my town, by the way) to questions about the Premiere League, the Rabbit R1 took about two seconds to respond.

Rabbit R1


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

However, when it comes to using the camera and basing its responses on what it “sees,” it took slightly longer. After I asked it a question about a painting, it took 2-3 seconds to say “Taking a look now” before responding in one second with its description.

But some answers were wrong

One time, I asked the Rabbit R1, “Which Premiere League team won the most titles?” It correctly responded with “Manchester United.” However, it went on to say that the team won 13 titles, which I don’t believe is accurate.

It can “see” and describe things

The Rabbit R1 has a cool functionality thanks to an auto-rotating camera that you can invoke by double tapping the right action button, which lets you point to any object — which it will then tell you about it. It’s very Google Lens. Hell, even my iPhone can perform this functionality, too.

In the video below, you can see it successfully describing the masterpiece in my living room.

However, I tried testing to see if it could, for example, translate a foreign language to English. I thought this see-and-describe feature would be helpful while traveling to countries to diminish language barriers (particularly while ordering at a restaurant with a menu in another language). Sadly, I found that it doesn’t have this capability.

So far, the best use case I’ve found for this is that I can use it to tell me which dishes I can make when I’m stumped.

Speakers are a bit quiet

Based on its responses, I found the speakers to be too quiet — even at max volume.

Rabbit R1 on a kickstand


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

Keep in mind that it can play music and podcasts from a paid Spotify account, but I haven’t tested it yet.

Yes, you can connect Bluetooth headphones

Fortunately, a solution for the quiet speakers is pairing it with my trusty Sony XM4 headphones. I simply shook the Rabbit R1 to get the Settings menu, turned on Bluetooth, and paired my headphones with ease.

It connects via 4G LTE and Wi-Fi

As it turns out, the Rabbit R1 has a SIM card slot, allowing you to be connected at all times (i.e., 4G LTE). If you don’t care to grab a SIM card for this AI assistant, you can also rely on Wi-Fi.

Battery life is OK

Strangely, when I unboxed my Rabbit R1, it wasn’t charged. As such, I couldn’t even use it at the Rabbit R1 launch party, where I obtained it.

Rabbit R1 USB-C port


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

When I got home, I charged it up to about 50% (no, the Rabbit R1 does not come with a charging cable). Seventeen hours later, the battery life is about 15%.

Don’t worry, though. In my full review, I’ll give you a better idea on battery life at full charge.

But something is iffy about the Rabbit R1

As the old saying goes, “If something is too good to be true, it probably is.” Jesse Lyu, CEO of Rabbit R1, keeps boasting that the Rabbit R1 is only $199 and is subscription free. However, there’s no way in hell it can be subscription free for long.

Once the hype dies down and nerds like me wipe the shelves clean, what’s next? To put it succinctly, how does Rabbit R1 intend to make money?

There’s got to be something down the pipeline through which Rabbit intends to squeeze money out of its user base, no?

Also, I’m still not totally clear about whether the Rabbit R1 squelches all privacy concerns consumers may have.

Final thoughts

Someone on Twitter saw a video of me asking the Rabbit R1 to describe what it was seeing. Paraphrasing his reply, he said something to the effect of, “Google Lens can do that. Why would be the point of getting this?”

Rabbit’s mission here is to create this all-in-one AI device. Yes, it can do what Google Lens can do, but it can also do what Spotify, ChatGPT, DoorDash, and Uber can do in one device — and with nothing but your voice.

There’s still so much to test, including ordering DoorDash to my door, but I’ll be sure to come back with a thorough review.

UPDATE: Apr. 24, 2024, 6:06 p.m. EDT This hands-on review was updated to reflect that the Rabbit R1 is, indeed, a touchscreen, but only when enabling the virtual keyboard. Otherwise, you can’t use your fingers to make any other selections.

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Artificial Intelligence




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