Knowledge for the World

The Raspberry Pi Zero W adds Wi-Fi, bluetooth to the mix

The Raspberry Pi Zero, the $5 computer about the size of a pack of gum, has always been criticized because it lacked wireless connectivity.

This shouldn't be a problem since USB Wi-Fi and bluetooth adapters are a dime a dozen -- however, since the Pi Zero only has one USB port (a MicroUSB at that), you previously needed a hub to use both a Wi-Fi dongle and a second USB device. Adding a hub defeats several of the Pi Zero's strengths: cost and size.

The Raspberry Pi Zero Wireless solves all these issues, and more.

Enter the Raspberry Pi Zero W

With the release of the Raspberry Pi Zero Wireless (aka the Raspberry Pi Zero W), the Raspberry Pi Foundation has solved this connectivity issue by integrating the same onboard Wi-Fi and bluetooth components that are found on the Pi Zero's big brother, the Raspberry Pi 3.

Pi Zero W Cost

At $10, the Pi Zero W is double the price of the regular Raspberry Pi Zero. However, the price hike is worth it when you factor in the cost of USB Wi-Fi and bluetooth dongles (and the need for a USB hub should you desire both).

Pi Zero W Availability

Since its release, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has kept the price of the Pi Zero artificially low, ignoring the laws of supply and demand, in an attempt to make the computer as inexpensive as possible. In other words, demand is sufficiently high that the Pi Zero should be sold for much more, as is evident in the pricing history of the Pi Zero on Amazon and eBay.

As a result, the normal Pi Zero has often been out of stock since its initial release. Expect no different from the Pi Zero W. While I was able to snag one from Pimoroni on the day of its release, Adafruit was already out of stock.

You can buy a Pi Zero W from Raspberry Pi's official distributors listed here. If it's out of stock, sign up for one of the distributors' "notify me" lists -- it's worth it.

Pi Zero W Specs

The size and form factor of the Pi Zero Wireless remains unchanged -- it is the same size as the normal Pi Zero. Additionally, all other hardware specs (CPU, RAM, etc.) remain unchanged.

Wireless module specs:

  • 802.11 b/g/n wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

Hardware specs (same as Pi Zero):

  • 1GHz, single-core CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • Mini HDMI and USB On-The-Go ports
  • Micro USB power
  • HAT-compatible 40-pin header
  • Composite video and reset headers
  • CSI camera connector

What will you do with it?

Let us know in the comments section below! We expect a lot of cool projects to come to fruition with the advent of integrated wireless connectivity on the Pi Zero.