The 50% price increase isn’t insignificant (especially if you’re planning on buying a ton of these), but it’s understandable why the W version costs so much more than the original. Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton told The Verge’s Nilay Patel that adding radios to products is too expensive. “Just the radio conformance is the best part of half a million dollars for a modern Raspberry Pi product,” he said.
Microcontroller Equipped with Wi-Fi
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.
Raspberry Pi has released a Pico successor, a $4 microcontroller based on the RP2040 chip designed by the company. The Pico W is the name of the new model. It’s essentially the same hardware, but it adds an 802.11n Wi-Fi radio, as the name implies, making it useful for putting together IoT projects and the like. It’s also more expensive than the regular Pico, costing $6.
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-in microcontrollers – plus they used up valuable pins that could have been connected to other fun stuff. 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.
In the days of Wi-Fi 6E, the Pico W’s 2.4GHz 802.11n connectivity feels dated, but it’s worth noting that the Pico W isn’t designed to be a desktop computer that can surf the Internet—designed it’s to support other computers. Controlling electronics or hardware devices. It can now do so while sending data back and forth across a network. For example, a standard pico might allow you to control an array of LEDs with a single switch or button. You can still build this with the Pico W, but now you can control the lights from your laptop.
Pico H and Pico WH are two other Pico products announced by Raspberry Pi. They’re similar to the Pico and Pico W, but they’re a buck more expensive and include pre-attached pin headers and a debug connector, whereas the base versions only have regular pad-like pins.
Essentially, you’re paying to make things easier to attach, which may or may not be worthwhile for some people. (I might buy the regular version just to give myself an excuse to do more soldering practise.) The H is currently available, while the WH will be available in August.
According to the Raspberry Pi press release, those interested in experimenting with the hardware have gravitated toward the Pico because the lack of semiconductors makes it difficult to find chips. While the company promises to produce “tens of millions more” Picos, it has also been hit: anyone who has recently attempted to purchase a more complex computer, such as the Raspberry Pi 4, knows it is in stock. It can be difficult to locate.
Pico, Pico W, and Pico H are currently available on a variety of websites, including The Pie Hut and Pimoroni. Adafruit and Cytron both have Pico W pages and say they will be available for purchase soon. The best website to shop Raspberry Pi tool is Robotools.in