Today, to celebrate their 5th birthday, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced an exciting new version of the Raspberry Pi Zero. Our favourite mini single board computer now includes a feature that many of us have wished for: wireless connectivity!
The new version is aptly named “W”, and the new feature is realized by squeezing the same wireless chip that is included on the RPi 3 with a new antenna to make it fit on the very tight space of the RPi Zero. This gives the RPi Zero onboard wifi & Bluetooth! With the previous Zero model, not only did we have to make the choice for either one of the two, but it would also use up the only available USB port of the board. In situations where you needed to connect more than one peripheral (say, a keyboard?), you would need an external USB-hub to extend the single port. With the amazing new RPi Zero W, you can connect your mouse & keyboard, while accessing the internet, without connecting anything to the single USB port.
In addition to this already great benefit, there is a secondary consideration for those of us who like to stick their boards in very tight spaces. With the regular Zero, there was this big, heavy, clunky dongle sticking out at the side, like a stick poking in the eye of the embedded enthusiasts. Now, we can have a very tight fit, that does not have to be any larger than the dimensions of the board itself, while still being able to communicate with the outside world. Also, the new solution probably shaves a few grams of the total weight of the package. And finally, it might even be using slightly less power, since we do not have a separate blinking light for every packet of data that is being transmitted.
Logically, the W spec costs a bit more than the plain Zero (now GBP 9.60 vs 4.00), but the price difference is less than what I would pay for a wifi dongle + USB adapter at retail price. And then, I would not even have the Bluetooth. Or the nice and tight form factor. So, the value they added outweighs the price increase.
And what is even better, the Zero W now retails from the Netherlands as well (please be patient while new stock arrives in weekly batches).