The Raspberry Pi Zero, released in November of 2015, surprised users with its $5 price tag and gumstick-sized design. Since then, the Pi Foundation has updated this tiny Linux-based single board computer once, last summer’s addition of a ribbon-cable camera port. And now they give it another boost, adding built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless capabilities.
The upgrade, announced today at 9am GMT as part of the Pi Foundation’s fifth birthday, puts the same wireless functionality found on the full-size flagship Pi 3 onto the newly named Raspberry Pi Zero W V1.1. It’s a feature that users have asked for since the original release. The Zero has just one microUSB port alongside its 40 pins, forcing users to come up with creative solutions to add Wi-Fi and networking capabilities — a key element on all Raspberry Pi boards via Ethernet (and wireless on the 3). With the Zero W, they’ll be able to access external bluetooth devices and connect to the internet without losing the USB port or the ability to use expansion boards on the GPIO.
Zero W matches its predecessors’ power with a 1GHz chip and 512MB of RAM, and its form factor remains identical. It incorporates a new PCB antenna layout licensed from Swedish firm ProAnt. Although slower than the Pi 3, it’s powerful enough for many projects, including rudimentary desktop computing for very patient users (the $35 Pi 3 is a better option if uber-cheap desktop computing is your goal). Using the unit the Pi Foundation sent us, we booted into Raspbian, selected our Wi-Fi network in the top right corner of the screen, input the password, and were surfing the net in moments — the integration is easy.
With the inclusion of wireless, the Pi Zero W costs twice the price of the previous model (which will remain for sale alongside this one) — $10 instead of $5. The Foundation tells us they’ll have a few thousand units available for US purchase as of today.
As for the supply issues that plague the original Zero? “The original Raspberry Pi Zero will continue to have a limit of one per customer, but we will look to review this later in the year once stocks for both boards stabilize,” product evangelist Matt Richardson tells us. “We’re prioritizing getting Zero W out to everyone over getting more units to each of a smaller number of people.” He tells us they’ve sold over 400,000 Zeros since launch.
The Foundation is also releasing an injection molded case for this new board, with three interchangeable lids — including one that lets you access the GPIO pins, and one with a camera opening — and a short ribbon cable to affix the camera.
– 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
– 802.11n wireless LAN
– Bluetooth 4.0
Looking for a good first project to do with a Pi Zero W? We recommend the Pix-E GIF camera — it uses a Pi Zero connected to the internet to upload your GIF captures instantly. The Zero W will make its assembly that much easier. And if you want the demo unit we used here, enter our just-launched Pi contest, running until March 14, 2017. We’ll send this kit to the winning submission.