The launch of the Raspberry Pi Zero W (RBPiZW) by the Raspberry Pi Foundation recently has added two features many fans of the RBPi have been requesting for a long time. The two features, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, added to the wonderful RBPi Zero have improved the functionality of the tiny single board computer.
After all, the RBPiZW is only a variant of the RBPi Zero, and therefore, does not merit a full length, in depth review. However, we will focus on the new features the RBPiZW brings to the users.
Keeping with the tradition of the RBPi family of SBC, there is no case or anything to enable the user to treat the RBPiZW as a commercial product. Just like the other RBPi products before it, the RBPiZW is a complete single board computer, bare bones, versatile, and cheap. The Foundation has created the board this way so all hobbyists and professionals can use it with equal ease to make anything they want.
As with the original RBPi Zero, the RBPiZW also has its System-on-a-Chip (SoC) near the middle of the board, while the bottom of the board has the various mini and micro ports. For instance, rather than a full sized HDMI port, the board has a mini-HDMI port for the display to be connected. At the bottom, you will also find two micro-USB ports. One is used for supplying power to the board, and the other to carry data in and out. Therefore, if you wish to connect peripherals such as a mouse or a keyboard, you will need to use a micro-USB B male to USB A female adapter.
On the left side of the board, you will find the micro-SD slot. As with the other RBPi boards of the family, the RBPiZW also does not have built-in flash memory. Therefore, for the Operating System and data storage, you must use a micro-SD card else, you will not be able to boot the tiny computer.
Although there is an Ethernet port on the RBPiZW to connect to the Internet via an Ethernet cable, the presence of the on-board Wi-Fi precludes the use of a USB Wi-Fi dongle. That means even if you do not have a ready Ethernet cable, the RBPiZW will not face any difficulty in surfing the net.
To enable to RBPiZW to start running, you will need to supply it power from its power supply through the micro-USB cable. You must also have a micro-SD card of at least 8 GB capacity and the relevant OS stored on it. If you are going to connect a monitor to the RBPiZW, you will also need a mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter, and an HDMI cable. As you have used up one USB port for power, there is only one more micro-USB port available. Therefore, to connect a keyboard and mouse, you will additionally need a small USB hub. Of course, if you have a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, the single micro-USB port is enough, and you can dispense with the USB hub altogether. For headless applications, you can also discard the monitor, and the HDMI connectors/cables.