About the only thing you could criticize in the current line up of Raspberry Pi single board computers is the fact that you have to add a WiFi or Bluetooth dongle. This increases the cost by around $5, but more importantly it raises the question of which dongle to use. Different dongles tend to have different problems and the whole thing is messy. This has tended to put beginners off. A built-in WiFi facility would make it possible to provide an easier experience.
Update: One of the Pi distributors CPC is listing the price as £26.38 - About $37.
The new Raspberry Pi 3 model B has both built-in WiFi (2.4GHz) and Bluetooth/ Bluetooth LE using an on-board antenna. There are photos of the board in the FCC documents, but no further specification.
Comparing the board with the Pi 2 it is clear that most of the electronics has stayed the same. There are new components crammed into the top right corner, but no sign of an antenna connector.
Update: CPC and MagPi are calling the CPU 64-bit ARM processor 1.2 GHz but the cpu listed is BCM2837 which is the same as the Model 2 B.
You can also see the name of the board stenciled just below the GPIO connector - "Raspberry Pi 3 Model B".
The connectors are unchanged which means that you get four USB sockets and one wired network socket.
A Raspberry Pi with built in WiFi and Bluetooth puts it directly in competition with the new Linux based Arduinos, Intel's Edison and its derivatives, and with the ESP8266 - a very low cost (about $2) but not as well known WiFi board. And of course, it will be in competition with its own stablemates. If the Pi 3 is only a few dollars more than the Pi 2 then it will be the obvious first choice. This would effectively make the Pi Zero, at $5 with no networking, king of the low end and the Pi 3 the choice at the other end of the spectrum.
There are also other obvious variations on the redesigned Pi - drop the networking socket to produce a model A, and why not a WiFi Pi Zero?
The Raspberry Pi family is growing, let's hope it is not growing too big to be manageable. The continuing shortage of the Pi Zero - Where Are The Raspberry Pi Zeros? - is annoying a lot of potential users and its price point seems to have annoyed its usual distribution chain - RS and Farnell to the point that they have no plans to stock it. There just isn't enough profit in selling a Pi Zero to make it worth the trouble of dealing with customer backlogs. If you want a Pi Zero you have to deal with some newly recruited distributors who are probably hoping to make a profit on selling you extras.
The details, and most importantly the price, of the Pi 3 are expected to be announced next week.
Let's hope they have made more than one or two before announcing availability.
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