Raspberry Pi has introduced the successor to last year’s Pico, a $4 microcontroller based on the RP2040 chip designed by the company itself. The new model is called the Pico W. It’s basically the same hardware, but as the name suggests, it adds an 802.11n Wi-Fi radio, which makes it useful for putting together IoT projects and the like. It’s also more expensive than the standard Pico, coming in at $6.
A 50 percent price increase isn’t insignificant (especially if you plan to buy a ton of these), but it’s understandable why the W version costs so much more than the original. Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton explained: of the Verge Nilay Patel said that adding radio to the products is very expensive. “Just the radio conformance is the best part of half a million dollars for a modern Raspberry Pi product,” he said. The $4 pico isn’t going away either. If cost is a big factor and you can do without network connectivity, you can still get a less expensive model.
The company says it added wireless to the Pico using the Infineon CYW43439 chip. Curiously, that chip also supports Bluetooth, but the Raspberry Pi says it isn’t currently capable. (Though it does indicate that it is considering enabling it, at least in the future.)
While there are accessories available to connect your standard Pico to the network, they were significantly more expensive and bulky than Wi-Fi’s built into microcontrollers—plus, they used up valuable pins that could be connected to other fun stuff. was . The Pico W just comes with it, and you can even use it as a drop-in replacement for a project based on the standard Pico if you prefer.
The Pico W’s 2.4GHz 802.11n connectivity feels pretty old-fashioned back in the days of Wi-Fi 6E, but it’s worth noting that the Pico W isn’t designed to be a desktop computer that can surf the Internet—it’s designed for other users. Designed to control electronics or hardware devices. Now, however, it can do so while sending information back and forth over a network. As an example, the regular pico might let you control an array of LEDs with a single switch or button. You can still build this with the Pico W, but you’ll also have the option of controlling the lights from your laptop.
Raspberry Pi also announced two other Pico products: Pico H and Pico WH. They are similar to the Pico and Pico W, respectively, but they cost a buck more and come with pre-attached pin headers and a debug connector, while the base versions only have regular pad-like pins. Basically you’re paying to make things easier to attach, which will be worth it for some people but not for others. (Personally, I might buy the regular version to give myself an excuse to get into more soldering practice.) The H is available today, while the WH will be available in August.
In its press release, Raspberry Pi says those interested in experimenting with the hardware have flocked to the Pico because the lack of semiconductors makes it difficult to find chips. While the company promises it has plans to make “tens of millions more” Picos, it’s also hit: Anyone who’s recently tried to buy a more complex computer, like the Raspberry Pi 4, knows it’s in stock. Can be difficult to find. Currently, however, Pico, Pico W, and Pico H are all available on multiple sites, such as The Pie Hut and Pimoroni. Adafruit and Citroen have pages for the Pico W and say they will be available to order soon.