As soon as I heard about the Rabbit R1 AI assistant, I knew I had to get my hands on one. After the keynote speech back in January, the excitement for this device has been through the roof. The Rabbit R1 sold over 100,000 units within a short period of time, which shows that I’m not the only one eagerly waiting to see what it can do. Many are still waiting for their devices, depending on what batch they’re in. So, this blog post is for you to let you know what’s to come and whether it is worth the hype.

Unboxing the Rabbit R1 and First Impressions

When I received the Rabbit R1, it immediately seemed pretty cool. The packaging is really well done, and it adds to the excitement of unboxing. The R1 is housed in what looks like an old-school cassette case, which is a neat touch that gives it a retro vibe. The device itself looks modern, is compact and lightweight, and feels well-made. It’s clear that a lot of thought went into the design and appearance – it looks and feels quite slick in hand.

Unboxing the Rabbit R1
Unboxing the Rabbit R1


Whilst I’ve been waiting for my device to arrive, over the last month, I’ve been reading up on its features and capabilities. Initially, my expectations were high, but as more reviews started to come in, I became a bit sceptical.

There were quite a few negative reviews slamming the device, claiming it wasn’t ready for production. This made me worried that my initial excitement might have been misplaced. I hoped that once I received my device and put it to work, those negative reviews would be proven wrong and the Rabbit R1 would turn out to be the great handheld AI assistant I’ve been hoping for. My hope was that it would be more like a personal assistant, helping me manage tasks like my scheduling and agenda, and potentially even assisting with my emails.

Quick Setup

Setting up the Rabbit R1 was a breeze. It was a pretty smooth, intuitive process. I was treated to the touchscreen keyboard, which worked really well and included haptic feedback – necessary to put in my Wi-Fi password. After that, I got an over-the-air update immediately, and the device asked me to link up to my account using the web browser, which involved a QR code. Within a few minutes, I was ready to go. I didn’t encounter any hiccups, which is always a plus.

Getting started with the Rabbit R1
Getting started with the Rabbit R1

Features and Performance

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. The Rabbit R1 is packed with touted features. It is supposed to be able to control your smart home devices, answer questions, play music via Spotify and Apple Music, and even help with your schedule. However, at the moment, the ability to control smart home devices isn’t actually available yet. You can play music and use services like DoorDash, Uber, and the image generation service MidJourney, but that’s all as of today (31st May 2024).

The voice recognition is generally good but not perfect – it misunderstood me on a few occasions, especially since I’ve had a cold the last few days. This is a little frustration when I decided to see if it could tell me about my company Alpha Labs, but instead failed to find results for “alphawabs” – boo. It was however capable of making recommendations for things to do with the family nearby, however, I do wonder if it is just making a general recommendation rather than one tailored to my specific interests and family (things which I attempted to teach R1 previously)

One of the main things I wanted to check out was the integrations available. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, these are restricted to only four particular integrations: Music (Spotify & Apply Music), DoorDash, Uber, and MidJourney. As a business owner, I was looking forward exploring the Large Action Model (LAM) ability and see if the assistant could integrate into my services to support scheduling, such as Outlook, and potentially even read my emails for me. The dream would be that if AI could use these tools it would help me organise my busy day-to-day activities.

Rabbit R1’s “Teach mode” feature

Rabbit R1 Teach mode
Rabbit R1 Teach mode

Sadly, my dreams are not yet possible and this is due to the lack of a main feature I had hoped would be available. The highly anticipated “teach mode” feature. It’s showcased in the Rabbit R1 keynote video and shows how users can can introduce custom actions to R1 which it can repeat later when asked. I asked R1 about this feature and it didn’t have a timeline for when this would be available. Hopefully, it will be available soon?

Rabbit R1’s “document modification and email” feature

Another stand out feature of the keynotes video was the ability to show Rabbit R1 a document and ask it to make modifications and on this occasion the feature is available to my delight. I decided to grab the first excel spreadsheet I could find and, like Jesse’s example, I asked it to make a simple modification. However, things did not go smoothly. R1 was able to identify the spreadsheet and it’s content correctly, which in this case showed monthly charity donation.

Rabbit R1 Jesse's document interaction example
Rabbit R1 Jesse’s document interaction example

However when I asked it to add a row to the spreadsheet it firstly emailed me an empty spreadsheet with the value “null” in the first cell only. I tried again and this time I did get an amended spreadsheet with an additional row, however R1 must have misunderstood me as the new row was gobbledy goop. It also mixed up some of the other values. The final blow was that it also added cells for the column labels and row numbers, which excel shows be default but aren’t supposed to be in the cells.

Rabbit R1 document interaction feature fails to add a new row
Rabbit R1 document interaction feature fails to add a new row

There are a couple of cool features from that keynotes speech which really got me on the hook, like teach mode and document interaction, that are not ready yet or lacking the polish needed. The features are on the roadmap though, so we just have to wait and hope that they will eventually become available and live up to the hype!

Rabbit R1's planned features
Rabbit R1’s planned features

Memory Retention

One specific pain point I’ve encountered is with memory retention. Yesterday evening, I decided to speak to R1 about my agenda for today. I asked it to remember three separate tasks that I needed to complete today, and I asked R1 to repeat this back to me, which it did successfully. I then asked it to remove one of the items as I realized that I’d already done it, and it successfully removed it and recited back to me my updated agenda for today.

However, I then switched off the device, went to bed, woke up, turned it on again, and asked it for my agenda. Unfortunately, it told me, “You do not have any events scheduled for today.” I can only assume that switching off the device clears its recent memory, and that’s why it forgot the agenda I was planning for today. If I check the Rabbit Hole, the agenda is there in the journal section, so it has got it recorded. It just seems that R1 doesn’t have full memory retention for everything you’ve ever spoken to it about. The conversational memory is much shorter, which is a bit of a disappointment.

Rabbit R1 struggles with long term memory retention
Rabbit R1 struggles with long term memory retention

I suppose I could remedy this by never switching off the device. Judging by the feature list and roadmap pictured above, long-term memory retention is planned for the future. Unfortunately, the absence of it at the moment does take away a bit from the device’s ability, and it was disappointing that it forgot about the agenda that I’d set for today.

Addressing the Negative Reviews

As I’ve mentioned, the Rabbit R1 has had a lot of negative reviews, with ratings as low as three out of ten and one and a half out of five stars. Some criticisms focus on how it hasn’t really extended on what is already available. Many AI features, like having a conversation with an AI, are already possible through tools like ChatGPT on your smartphone. And, in many ways, this point is true and valid.

However, there are subtle improvements with the Rabbit R1 being a handheld device. You can push to talk straight away and have a conversation with the AI that should remember most of the information about you. You also have a camera there, so you can take a picture to provide visual context immediately without faffing around using your mobile app. The Rabbit R1 team haven’t quite delivered everything shown in the previews, but what they have provided feels really well thought out and the quality is good.

The handle held device does have drawbacks as well. For example, you don’t have a portal with a manual chat window, although some email interaction is possible for certain contexts. As someone who does a lot of coding, I can’t provide coding context to Rabbit R1 through a chat window like I can with ChatGPT. I can take a picture and wait on an email, but this feels like a backward step. Some of the reviews say, “Why not just use an app on your phone?” At this point in time, that is a valid question.

ChatGPT mobile app in conversation mode
ChatGPT mobile app in conversation mode

However, where R1 shows potential is in its future capabilities. The things that it has done, such as the UI and the interaction, are really well done. It’s just that they don’t house any magnificent features at the moment, but they are planned. So, if you have your R1 device, don’t throw it in the bin just yet. Most of the planned experimental and exploratory features, such as teach mode, helping you plan travel, taking reservations, and ticketing, will make the device head and shoulders above anything else once they arrive.


I really wanted to like the Rabbit R1 and hail it as a device that changes my day to day as a busy business owner. However I won’t be going out and recommending it to my friends at this point in time. The device has magnificent potential but doesn’t yet surpass or significantly improve on what’s already available. I will most likely continue to rely on Chat GPT and other AI tools for the time being. However, I am still hopeful that once the updates are made available, especially for features like Teach Mode, the R1 will become the device we are all hoping for.

Rabbit R1 suggests a family activity near High Wycombe
Rabbit R1 suggests a family activity near High Wycombe

Some of these updates are planned for summer 2024, while others are expected by the end of the year. So, I’m optimistic that the money spent on this device will turn out to be a good investment for the future. I look forward to seeing the Rabbit R1 evolve and fulfil its potential.

Posted by:Joseph D'Souza

I'm Joseph D'Souza, an experienced .NET developer with a speciality in Umbraco and WordPress development. I'm proud to be the Director of Alpha Labs, a leading web development firm based in High Wycombe. Also, a happy family man with a loving wife and two beautiful children.