HomeTechAiRabbit R1 Review: A $199 AI Toy That Fails At Almost Everything

    Rabbit R1 Review: A $199 AI Toy That Fails At Almost Everything

    The Rabbit R1 stands as a testament to the current state of stand-alone AI devices, epitomised by the Humane AI Pin. These gadgets often prioritise generating hype and securing investment over providing genuine utility to consumers. It’s akin to constructing a tower on quicksand; the foundation is shaky, and the structure is inherently unstable.

    The Rabbit R1 heavily markets its “large action model” (LAM) as its standout feature, purportedly enabling it to understand commands and execute tasks. However, this is largely marketing jargon, as the R1’s performance as an AI assistant falls short of expectations. It struggles to accomplish even basic tasks, with most actions being quicker and easier to perform on a smartphone equipped with modern AI capabilities.

    Despite the promises of the R1, its functionality is severely limited. While it boasts features such as a vision function and push-to-talk capabilities, its performance is lackluster. Tasks like making video calls or using Google Lens are more efficient on other devices. Moreover, its short battery life further detracts from its appeal as a practical gadget.

    Designed in collaboration with Teenage Engineering, the R1’s compact size and sleek design may catch the eye, but its actual utility leaves much to be desired. Even with software updates, the R1 fails to live up to expectations, feeling more like a novelty than a genuinely useful AI-powered gadget.

    In practice, interacting with the R1 often feels like falling down a rabbit hole of frustration. Despite efforts to engage with it through voice commands or by pointing the camera, users are frequently met with unresponsiveness or subpar performance. The promise of using the R1 to complete tasks on behalf of the user remains largely unfulfilled, leaving consumers questioning its purpose in the realm of consumer tech.

    Ultimately, the Rabbit R1 serves as a cautionary tale about the limitations of current AI-powered hardware. Until significant advancements are made in the field of AI technology, consumers may be better off relying on their smartphones for practical assistance rather than investing in stand-alone gadgets like the R1.

    Rabbit R1

    Although the Rabbit R1 is a charming AI device, it has a horrible battery life and several bugs at launch. There isn’t enough value in the R1 to make it worthwhile when phones are capable of handling comparable AI jobs.


    • Cute design by Teenage Engineering


    • Unexpectedly little battery life

    • AI functionality frequently malfunctions

    • Uber-like services are inoperable.

    • tiny screen

    • Using the scroll wheel irritates me.

    • Ineffective speaker

    Rabbit R1: design and build

    Admittedly, the Rabbit R1 device does seem cute, but that’s primarily due to Teenage Engineering’s magical design work—the company can even make an unassuming tripod appear stylish. The Playdate, another little square device from Teenage Engineering, forms the foundation for the R1. With its considerably less pleasant scroll wheel, the R1 lacks the distinctive crank of that gaming handheld. In addition, its glossy plastic casing seems heavier and more affordable than the Playdate—almost like a toy meant for kids.

    Rabbit R1

    In addition to the boring 2.9-inch screen, there’s an interesting 8-megapixel “360-degree” camera that can turn in your direction or away from it. I’ll give Rabbit tech credit for that; it’s a creative method to avoid bundling two different cameras. But photos aren’t the intended use for the t360-d360-degree eye. Rather, the focus is entirely on computer vision. You may wait for an AI-generated summary or ask the R1 to explain whatever is in front of you, including papers, articles, and objects. While visually impaired individuals could find this helpful, they could also utilise ChatGPT, MiCopilot’s Copilot, or the built-in utilities on their phones—which all happen to have far better cameras—for the same purposes.

    Utilising Rabbit R1 is a Pointless Endeavour.

    The Rabbit R1 is primarily a failure behind its exterior. After turning it on, you should be able to ask the AI assistant whatever you want, such as the current weather, the traffic in your area, or an overview of a new book, by tapping the push-to-talk button on its side. However, throughout my testing, when I requested traffic, the R1 would frequently respond with the weather, and occasionally it would hear me but do nothing.

    The more you use the R1, the more annoying it gets. Even though the display is actually a touchscreen, the only method to interact with its interface is through its scroll wheel, which is rather difficult to operate. The length of time it takes to navigate between menu selections is neither consistent nor logical. Because the confirmation button is on the right side of the R1, just choosing items is difficult. Somewhere below the scroll wheel would be a much simpler place to press that button; better yet, just let me use the darn touchscreen!

    The Rabbit’s touchscreen, strangely enough, does register taps when you need to input text, such as a Wi-Fi network password. However, even that procedure is tedious because it calls for flipping the R1 upside down and using an absurdly small keyboard. To be honest, each time I had to use it, I felt like I was getting punched. “What is this, a keyboard for ants?” is always heard.

    Apps from third parties on the Rabbit R1

    The more I used the Rabbit R1, the more I suspected it was intentionally engineered to drive me mad. It can play Spotify music (if you have a paid subscription), but why bother with such a poor 2-watt speaker? Are you supposed to attach Bluetooth headphones? You may ask the R1 to generate art using Mid Journey AI (again, with a premium subscription), but it frequently fails to display the images made. On the odd occasion they did appear, I couldn’t do anything with the AI images. 

    From R1. To share them, I’d need to connect to Mid Journeys Discord server using my phone or PC. 

    When I requested the R1 to get me an Uber to a nearby theatre, it informed me that the Uber service may be sluggish to load on RabbitOS and is not accessible everywhere (oh, thanks?). After 30 seconds of idling, it indicated that the Uber service may be under maintenance or that there was an issue with my credentials. (I checked out and back into Uber via the “Rabbit Hole” website, where you maintain the R1, but the issue continued.)

    When I questioned why I couldn’t get the Uber service to operate, Rabbit support Ryan Fenwick explained via email that LAM works by running the Uber web app on your behalf in the cloud. “Uber ultimately selects how and whether to serve users; thus it may differ depending on criteria such as your booking location, ride history, and so on. We are putting in place efforts to increase the success rate and transparency of ride-booking through R1, so the experience should improve over time.”

    At least Rabbit R1 managed to get me a sandwich. I asked it to find some lunch nearby, and it spent exactly one minute chatting with Postmates and its AI cloud—the same amount of time it would take me to finish a GrubHub order on my phone. The R1 ultimately returned with three jumbled choices: Subway, Henri’s Bakery, and a place five miles away that I had never heard of.

    I chose Henri’s (they make amazing sandwiches), and the R1 presented me with six menu options. Its little screen could only display a picture of the item, its name, and the price; you couldn’t tap into it to receive a more detailed explanation or change anything. You can only put goods in your cart or delete them. I selected two sandwiches, and to my amazement, the R1 fulfilled the order without ever validating my payment details or delivery location. It was based on my DoorDash settings, which were luckily up to date.

    As soon as the order was placed, my iPhone began to light up with various pieces of important information from DoorDash. I received a confirmation from the restaurant, a comprehensive bill (the R1 included my customary 20% tip), and the identity of my delivery driver. The R1 took many minutes to validate the order, and it only sporadically informed me as it got closer.

    My sandwiches eventually came, but I was struck by how many different things could have gone wrong. This isn’t 1999, and I’m no longer fascinated by the ability to purchase food online, as I was with (RIP). Even then, I was able to fully personalise menus. The fact that I could look over at my phone and see that the DoorDash app was significantly more useful made me immediately lose trust in the R1.

    Other functions of the R1 include recording and summarising sessions. However, various applications on my phone and PC can accomplish this as well. The on-demand translation tool appeared to work well while translating English to Spanish and Japanese, but it was no better than Google Translate or ChatGPT on my phone.

    What is the point of Rabbit R1?

    All of this makes me wonder: what is the point of Rabbit R1? It cannot replace your phone because it is unable to make calls or send SMS. While you may add a SIM card for always-on access, it will cost extra. It’ll be useless on the move nonetheless. Perhaps you could claim that it is a companion gadget that helps you avoid getting distracted by your phone. However, it is so sluggish and difficult to use that I prefer my smartphone’s notification-filled hellscape. There is nothing Zen about having to purchase, charge, and transport yet another device.

    If you are concerned about battery life, the Rabbit R1 is not for you. When I originally got it, the R1 would run out of power after sitting inactive for eight hours. The first big RabbitOS upgrade helped us, but the R1 still can’t go all day on a single charge. It’s unacceptable for a gadget with such a small screen to transfer its work to the cloud.


    I suppose you could argue that the $199 Rabbit R1 is a better value than the $699 Humane AI Pin (which also requires a $24 monthly membership), but that’s like arguing rabbit droppings don’t smell as horrible as dog faeces. Technically true! But in the end, it’s all just trash. The Humane’s projection screen is a unique spin on the smartphone user interface, and it might be less troublesome as a wearable. The Rabbit AI assistant, on the other hand, is essentially a larger and dumber phone.

    Do not buy the R1. Even if Rabbit succeeds in delivering on some of its LAM’s promises, like the ability to train the R1 to do a variety of jobs, I doubt it will be effective. My suggestion applies to all standalone AI devices: just stay away. Your phone is sufficient.

    David Novak
    David Novak
    For the last 20 years, David Novak has appeared in newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV around the world, reviewing the latest in consumer technology. His byline has appeared in Popular Science, PC Magazine, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Electronic House Magazine, GQ, Men’s Journal, National Geographic, Newsweek, Popular Mechanics, Forbes Technology, Readers Digest, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Glamour Magazine, T3 Technology Magazine, Stuff Magazine, Maxim Magazine, Wired Magazine, Laptop Magazine, Indianapolis Monthly, Indiana Business Journal, Better Homes and Garden, CNET, Engadget, InfoWorld, Information Week, Yahoo Technology and Mobile Magazine. He has also made radio appearances on the The Mark Levin Radio Show, The Laura Ingraham Talk Show, Bob & Tom Show, and the Paul Harvey RadioShow. He’s also made TV appearances on The Today Show and The CBS Morning Show. His nationally syndicated newspaper column called the GadgetGUY, appears in over 100 newspapers around the world each week, where Novak enjoys over 3 million in readership. David is also a contributing writer fro Men’s Journal, GQ, Popular Mechanics, T3 Magazine and Electronic House here in the U.S.

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