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The early Rabbit R1 reviews are almost all asking the same question

Despite the massive hype surrounding the Rabbit R1, reviewers are struggling to figure out the ‘why’ of the new AI virtual assistant.

Custom image for early Rabbit R1 reviews news with the device on an orange background

After its big reveal at CES 2024, we’re seeing the first slew of early Rabbit R1 reviews. While we were expecting a mixed bag of results for this debut product from a fledgling tech brand, it seems that reviewers, content creators, and basically just about anyone with access to the new device are trying to figure out why it exists in the first place.

For those who don’t know, the Rabbit R1 is an AI-powered virtual assistant from start-up Rabbit Inc. in collaboration with designer and hipster favorite electronics brand Teenage Engineering. You may have seen it scrolling through social media in recent months, but if not, it’s a little orange box around half the size of the average Samsung phone, with a 2.88-inch touchscreen display and analog scroll wheel, all for the cost of $199. Rabbit Inc. describes the product as “the future of human machine interface”, but if the first impression coverage is anything to go by, that future might not be as bold and bright as we hoped for.

While headlines don’t always tell the full story, some of those surrounding the Rabbit R1 don’t leave much to the imagination. Marques Brownlee, who recently went viral in the tech scene for his relatively scathing lambast of the Humane AI Pin, just released a new video titled “Rabbit R1: Barely Reviewable,” tech site Digital Trends describes the device as “a mess,” and Mashable’s coverage suggests there’s “something iffy” about the R1. This is not the glowing reception Rabbit Inc. would have hoped for.

The resounding theme of the coverage so far seems to mainly question the purpose of the R1, especially in a year where smartphone AI offers many of the same features and more, but that isn’t the only issue. Reviewers have also pointed out the R1’s poor battery life and speakers, lack of smartphone connectivity, missing features like calendar and web browsing apps, and other factors as disappointing. We haven’t seen any scored reviews yet, outside of a 2.5 out of 5 from The Shortcut’s Matt Swider, but it’s going to be an interesting day in the tech scene when they arrive in droves.

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We have to point out that it’s not all negative. There is some praise for the R1’s AI assistant and translation features, with David Pierce of The Verge saying, “it does a solid job with basic AI questions,” while Swider points to the translation tools as the reason he didn’t give the R1 an even lower score. The design is also pretty popular with reviewers, with the same Digital Trends coverage we mentioned earlier praising the “unapologetically orange color, and the bouncing rabbit on its display,” while the Cherlynn Low of Engadget’s relatively glowing write-up suggests the R1 “oozes character.”

It’s also important to say that, like many phones these days, the Rabbit R1 is arriving on the market with some missing features. According to Engadget, Rabbit Inc.’s CEO Jesse Lyu admitted during the R1 launch event that there are some features still to come. We’ll have to wait to see if these additional features can change the minds of some of those who feel a little unimpressed with the current offering.

There you have it, the shakedown of the early Rabbit R1 reviews. While you’re here, check out some AI-powered phones with our guides to the best Xiaomi phones and the best OnePlus phones. Or, if you’re wondering what AI plans Apple has for this year, check out all the leaks and rumors in our iPhone 16 hub.