Perplexity AI Review: Research Tool That Doesn’t Hallucinate

Perplexity AI review

Perplexity AI is more than a search engine, or an AI chatbot for that matter. And it’s one of the very few generative AI tools that does not hallucinate.

After using it daily for months now, here is my complete Perplexity AI free and pro review.

PERPLEXITY AI REVIEW SUMMARY

Perplexity AI logo

Perplexity AI is an all-in-one search engine, research assistant, and conversational chatbot. It is ideal if you want answers backed by references, but less ideal for pure prompt-to-text AI generation.

Features0/5
Ease of Use0/5
Performance0/5
Price0/5
Customer Support0/5
Overall0/5
  • It's easy to use with a simple chatbot interface.
  • You can focus searches on specific sources like Wikipedia, YouTube, etc. to get more relevant results.
  • The results are backed up by citations so you can verify the information.
  • It integrates the latest real-time information into the search results.
  • The Copilot feature asks useful follow-up questions to refine the search.
  • You can collaborate and organize searches in the Content Library.
  • It supports using top LLMs like Claude and GPT-4 to power the search.
  • The free plan has limited Copilot searches per day.
  • It's not as advanced at generating content from scratch compared to tools focused just on that.
  • It requires a paid Pro plan to access premium features like unlimited Copilot and top LLMs.

(Get $10 discount on your first month)

What is Perplexity AI?

Perplexity AI is an AI-equipped search engine with a minimal chatbot interface. In other words, it is a powerful yet beginner-friendly AI chat tool designed to act as a search engine with advanced capabilities.

It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to synthesize information and bring the best possible results.

Some key capabilities include:

  • Chatbot interface that allows natural language queries
  • Summarizing search results into a direct answer
  • Providing citations to verify information
  • Real-time updating with the latest information
  • Integrating results from Bing, Wikipedia, Reddit, YouTube, etc.

Perplexity AI is primarily useful for research purposes, but you can use it to do much more (more on that later).

As a researcher, you can efficiently search for relevant web pages, as every output of Perplexity is backed by several, mostly relevant, references.

You can also upload your research paper as a text or PDF file to summarize and get what you want from it, saving time.

Perplexity is very easy to use as it does not have a lot of features to play around with, but it is phenomenal at what it does.

In short, Perplexity AI is great if you want factual research and reliable information seeking.

And that's not even the best part!

Because Perplexity extracts and learns from the top results, you can ensure that the information you get is always updated.

With that said, let's deep dive into the features that power Perplexity AI.

Perplexity AI Features and Capabilities

I use Perplexity to initiate research or a search query whenever I want to learn something new and save time.

Thanks to its features, you can get a lot done without opening many tabs.

Focus Search

As briefly discussed earlier, Perplexity AI enables you to search the whole internet or the specific parts of it.

With the help of its focus search feature, you can focus on getting results from specific sources.

This is invaluable!

As of writing this, you can pull results from:

  • All (searches across the internet)
  • Academic (Published research papers)
  • Writing (Generative AI, does not search the web)
  • Wolfram|Alpha
  • YouTube
  • And Reddit.

The best part?

The Focus Search feature is very efficient.

Instead of going to YouTube and getting distracted (or worse, ending up on a vlog), for example, I can select YouTube as a search focus and discover and watch videos that I am interested in.

For the sake of an example, let's say I am a complete beginner to Audacity software, and I am looking for beginner-friendly video tutorials on Audacity.

In that case, I can prompt Perplexity with: “Give me some beginner-based videos to learn Audacity.”

Here's the output with the most relevant videos on Audacity:

It gives me a list of videos to watch based on my desired topic.

Heck, in the end, it also tells me to begin with videos 1,3 & 5 as they seem to target rookies like me.

Pretty cool!

I think this is much more efficient and distraction-free than starting your search journey with YouTube.

This feature I directly comparable to Bard's YouTube extension.

However, my experience concluded that Perplexity is the winner when it comes to giving the best possible outputs.

The same goes for finding specific discussion-based answers from Reddit or finding research papers from academia.

It saves time by enabling you to enter a specific platform only after getting the answer you are looking for, thus allowing you to save by opening many tabs.

You'll learn how to use search focus for a better search experience in the use cases tutorial later in this guide.

State of the Art LLMs

One thing you can do in Perplexity but cannot do in ChatGPT, Claude 2, and Bard, among others, is the ability to use a third-party LLM to generate responses.

And Perplexity AI makes it effortless to switch better LLMs.

As of now, it supports almost all the big names in the industry, including:

  • GPT-4
  • Claude-2.1
  • And Google's Gemini Pro

They also have Default and Experimental models, both by Perplexity.

The Default is if you want faster responses. Experimental is for you if you want better quality and less restrictive (liberal) answers.

To change your default LLM, the first thing you need is a Pro plan! Yeah, it's a premium feature.

Once you have done that, head over to our account settings from the bottom left corner (your photo icon).

Next, scroll down and you'll find the AI Model option.

Feel free to test out outputs from different models to see what works best for you.

Content Generation

Now if you remember earlier I said that Perplexity is great for factual accuracy but not so good for generative AI without the web search (and citations).

This does not mean it's bad at producing quality content, either.

Here's a quality comparison of Perplexity and Claude. For the sake of this example, I want to learn “how to start a blog”.

For Perplexity, I am using its default model.

And set the search focus to writing without Copilot.

Here's the output I got from Perplexity:

And here's the one from Claude:

Perplexity's default model gives me general tips on starting a blog. But Claude has some serious nuances and specific practical advice to offer.

And, speaking for myself, the writing style and tone of voice in Claude also make me want to read it all!

Now, I don't want to generalize the quality comparison based on just a single query.

But the fact of the matter is that Perplexity AI is a search engine first and an AI-content-generation tool later.

PRO TIP: If you're using Perplexity Pro, you'll have access and freedom to use the best LLMs. This means you can generate content (without sources) in Perplexity AI by setting Claude, Bard, or Gemini as the default model.

But again, the accuracy of these needs to be fact-checked (more on this later).

I would not use Perplexity for content generation, at least as of now. There are better apps for this.

Perplexity Copilot

By now, you know that Perplexity saves you from opening many Google tabs.

But that's not all.

Perplexity takes it one step further by understanding your question better and providing a nearly perfect, if not perfect, output.

How do they do it?

Enter Copilot.

NOTE: Perplexity's free plan offers 5 Copilot searches, which resets every 4 hours (30 Copilot searches in 24 hours). Perplexity Pro offers unlimited Copilot searches per day.

Before I show you how to use Perplexity Copilot to hone in on your desired results, here's the difference between output generated without Copilot vs. with Copilot:

I will take “How to make money blogging?” as an example question.

I use Claude 2.1 as my output model, use all web sources as the search focus, and test this question with and without Copilot.

Here is the output generated without Copilot:

Pretty straightforward answer, taken from the top 5 relevant web sources.

Now, here's the response I got when I entered the same question, but with Copilot on.

Instead of jumping straight to the conclusion, it asks me a follow-up question.

In this case, it is asking me to consider and prioritize the different ways to make money blogging.

It has given me the top 5 ways to make money blogging. And it also allows me to write a different blog monetization method that is not listed down.

The best part?

If you are unhappy with the follow-up question it came up with, you can make it rewrite the question.

Just click on this rewrite button:

Next, after having selected the best options, click send:

This is what I get as an output.

If you compare the output to the one we previously generated without Copilot, you will see some major differences.

  • Sources for references: Without Copilot, Perplexity considers only the top 5 web sources. With Copilot, it considers around 25 different sources. That's a huge difference.
  • Specificity: Because Copilot asks you follow-up questions, you get more specific, in-depth, and practical answers.
  • Efficiency: Imagine searching for 5 different keywords, reading the top 5 to 10 search results for each keyword, summarizing everything you read, and giving the most specific output (along with intact references), all in less than 20 seconds. That's Copilot for you.

Perplexity without Copilot is good, but not great. Perplexity with Copilot is simply brilliant.

Follow-up questions

When you search for something in Google, you get relevant questions (they call it People Also Ask) somewhere in the SERPs.

Perplexity has its own version of this (they called it Related).

So beneath every output you generate in Perplexity, they will provide you with 3 questions that you might have next about that certain topic.

And somehow, they are much more focused and relevant than Google's PAA.

Although Google gives you a lot of related ideas, Perplexity focuses on quality and relevance.

I really find it useful, most of the time.

Working With Media Upload

Perplexity AI enables you to upload and work with your images, text files, and PDFs.

Again, Perplexity has advantages in media upload than Bard, ChatGPT, or Claude.

Why?

As discussed earlier (a lot), Perplexity Pro enables you to use the top LLMs for the outputs.

Now imagine uploading a very long PDF in Perplexity and summarizing it using Claude's long-context window capabilities.

That's what we are going to do.

I have a PDF of the detailed results I got from taking a personality test. I am using that as an example.

After uploading it, I will say: “Summarize the key points in the PDF and give me some advice”.

Perplexity not only reads the PDF but also searches for PDF-related content on the web (search focus = all plus Copilot = on).

And then summarizes the PDF.

It also gave me advice about the content in the PDF because I asked it to.

Not bad!

Let's also test an image.

I have a wallpaper of Miyamoto Mushashi. I will upload and ask, “What does the image show?”.

Here's the output:

I have compared this feature to Claude and Bard's media uploading functionality. Claude is decent, Bard didn't do as well for me.

Perplexity is damn good.

Mobile App and Chrome Extension

Although I love using Perplexity on Chrome browser, it is not limited to the web.

Perplexity is also available as an app on Android:

As well as iOS:

The mobile app is as responsive as the web app.

And once you sign in, all your data is synced in, obviously.

They also have a Chrome extension.

It quickly lets you summarize any opened webpage or even obtain specific answers from the page/domain.

In the Search Focus, you can either get answers from all the web sources, the domain name you have active, or the specific page you have opened.

I don't find myself using the extension, but it is pretty handy for those seeking quick summarization of the opened webpage.

Content Library and Collaboration

Perplexity has a dedicated Library page where you can organize all your content outputs (they call it Threads), enabling efficient search and collaboration.

To create your first collection of library, head over to Library from here:

On the left side, all your generated outputs will be saved.

On the right side, you will see an option to create and manage collections.

Click on the + button and a popup will appear.

NOTE: Collection is simply creating a group for similar threads (think WhatsApp groups but way smarter.

Fill in the details by entering Title, Icon, a default AI prompt which is optional, and sharing options.

You have now created a collection folder where you can save any thread you want.

Now, enter your collection.

In the top left corner, there is an Invitation option.

Enter the invitee's email address and hit send.

There are also sharing options in the top right corner. Here, you can either keep your collection a secret or make it such that anyone with the link can view it.

AI Profile Personalization

Finally, as it should be, Perplexity becomes smarter and gets to know you better over time—of course, if you want it to.

Here's what I mean:

Head over to account settings and click on Profile located at the top right.

This is the place to tell AI about yourself so that it tailors answers specifically to your liking.

It's like ChatGPT's custom instructions, but it does not stop there.

Once you give it the basics like the intro, location, and language preferences:

Next, it will do what it always does: ask follow-up questions.

If you somehow feel uncomfortable sharing stuff about your private life or feel that you have overshared, don't worry.

In this case, Perplexity allows you to pause the learning with a click of a button.

OPINION: I recommend using this feature (at least in moderation) so that the outputs cut to the chase and deliver what you want to read.

Perplexity AI Pricing

Perplexity comes with a forever-free plan. The paid plan costs $20 per month to $200 per year (7-day free trial on the yearly plan).

Perplexity Pro plan includes and expands on the following features:

  • Unlimited Copilot searches.
  • State-of-the-art LLMs availability.
  • Unlimited media upload capabilities.
  • $5 monthly credit on pplx-api (Perplexity's API).

If we compare Perplexity's cost to its peers, there is nothing to compare.

Like Perplexity, ChatGPT, Bard, and Claude 2 offer a forever-free plan. Bard is still in beta and does not have a paid plan. Claude 2 and ChatGPT Plus offer $20 per month, similar to Perplexity.

Perplexity AI offers a discounted yearly plan while Claude 2 and ChatGPT Plus do not.

Is Perplexity Worth Giving A Try?

Absolutely!

Perplexity has its place as a great research, problem-solving, and fact-checking tool.

It certainly does not do a great job at pure AI content generation and copywriting, but it is not made for that either.

(It's a search engine, remember?)

With that said, now it's your turn!

Which Perplexity feature seems to be a game-changer for you?

How do you use or plan to include Perplexity in your workflow?

Let me know in the comments below right now!

Dhruvir Zala

Article by
Dhruvir Zala

I started this blog to provide brutally honest reviews of useful Generative AI tools and business productivity software. My objective is to help businesses choose exceptional products.

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