Yes it's a pickup that works on the same principles as an electric guitar but it's designed to give a natural warm sound that sounds acoustic (but amplified through a small brown amp). The pre-amp is the little EQ/control box on the top that takes the battery.
Compare this to a jazz or country archtop and you'll see the difference. Despite being hollow body guitars they are much heavier and have crude passive pickups like solid electric guitars. The result is a big, in-yer-face sound that can be amplified, pushed, distorted etc.
The amp is key here; an acoustic amp matches in with the desired warm sound by handling all frequencies equally. The electric amp boosts the mid-range and growls. Different worlds.
'The sound of the city seems to disappear'