Raspberry Pi has long been the gold standard in learning platforms for programming, particularly when it comes to interacting with hardware. Robotics classes have used them, Internet of Things classes have used them, and a lot more. But, the platform has always been a lot more expensive than that of Arduino, because it is a fully functioning platform on which you can program itself. But, the organization is taking a different approach to the newest entry - the Raspberry Pi Pico.
Unlike other boards from the organization, the Pico is a true microcontroller. It does not have a user-accessible operating system or a user interface, like its siblings. In fact, it is far closer to the Arduino than it is to the other Raspberry Pi models. The board starts at only $4, rather than the $35 of a full Pi. It even takes on the Arduino approach, creating an ecosystem of compatible boards from various manufacturers (including Arduino). The board created by the foundation is a core design board, with additional concepts coming from others. This has been one of the biggest wins for the Arduino platform, as you can get a wide variety of unique designs and feature sets.
The ecosystem approach will also bring a large collection of add-on components that can be used across manufacturers and models. A lot of this will be focused on the core uses for a microcontroller - hardware control. I suspect that motor encoders, LED strips, and more, will be in a first wave of aftermarket add-ons.
The initial production run of the Raspberry Pi Pico seems to have already been exhausted. Sites that had inventory on Friday were sold out by air time. New inventory should hopefully be available from the foundation, as well as the new models coming from partners.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.