Wireless and Arduino have had a rough past. Open source hardware and the highly regulated wireless industry aren't the best bedfellows. Certifying a wireless product has historically been risky, so although your Arduino is made by the friendly local electronics supply company that knows open source and understands the needs of the hobbyist, your wireless wasn't, meaning there was no one responsible for making sure the wireless experience worked for the hobbyists the way the rest of the Arduino experience does. We thought: in a world with wireless everywhere, why should hobbyists get a second class wireless experience?
Traditionally you would "add wireless" to your Arduino by buying a pre-manufactured radio module - a circuit board that is made by people that know wireless (but don't know hobbyists), and you just stack it onto your Arduino with a shield.
[Arduino Uno, with the Sparkfun Xbee Shield and an Xbee Pro radio module. Image credit: Sparkfun Electronics. Image used for commercial purposes with permission, images are licensed CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.]
Stacking wireless on top of your Arduino works, but there's some downsides; in this case you're paying three people to manufacture the boards. Arduino makes the Uno, Sparkfun makes the Xbee Shield, and Digi makes the XBee radio. Manufacturing 3 boards costs more money, everyone has to make a profit off of each one, and more boards means more connectors that cost money (connectors add up).
Using that configuration, you can get a wireless Arduino node with 100m range for $78 ($30 Arduino Uno, $25 Xbee shield, $23 Xbee). You can get more range with the Pro Xbee shown above, but then you're at nearly $100 per node (just over with tax). The Arduino Fio is a cheaper option, as it's an Arduino with the Xbee socket right on it. Depending on whether you choose the original Arduino Fio or the newer Sparkfun Fio v3 shown below, you're going to spend either $48 or $58 for a system with 100m range, and another $20 if you want a long range version.
[Sparkfun Fio v3. Image credit: Sparkfun Electronics. Image used for commercial purposes with permission, images are licensed CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.]
And with Sparkfun making the Arduino, and Digi making the Radio... who makes the software? Who is making sure everything works together and meets your needs?
[Shown: *Pre-Production Photo Flutter Pro.]
Flutter takes the functionality of all of the options above, shoves it into one board, and then loads it with extra features like super secure encryption, a fully open source design, and software made for doing what you want to do, whether you're a hobbyist, engineer, or a professional. Starting at just $36.
So Flutter is around half the price of those other options, which can be a big deal. You might not make yourself some wireless turn signals for your bike (like we did in our video) if it costs $180 in parts. But for $75? That might be a worthwhile weekend project. At either price, you're learning a lot, but with lower cost boards you can apply that knowledge in more projects. You can get 5 Flutter Basic boards for the cost of two wireless units using the old stuff! In fact, the Flutter Basic is is only a few dollars more than an Arduino Uno, only with way more processing power and built in wireless.
The goal of Arduino has always been to make it easy to build projects, robots, whatever, and learn a lot along the way, but there's a lot of things that Arduino would make easy to do if only you had wireless. If you can easily put an Arduino somewhere on your property or in your house and have it send any data to another Arduino even 1000m away, you can build way more things than you could have without wireless. You might want a temperature sensor in your wine cellar to warn you when it gets too warm, but it may not be worth it to you unless you can put the warning light somewhere you'll see it, like in the kitchen. You may be able to buy something like that, but Arduino guarantees it will do what you need, not what the manufacturer thought you needed. And since Flutter doesn't need the internet to work, your wine cellar light will always work, as long as it's got power and enough signal to get from A to B.
Flutter is designed from the ground up to make it easy for you to build what you want. And you don't have to stack three different circuit boards and pay an arm and a leg to make it all work. We're also the only company making wireless products from the ground up whose goal is to meet the needs of the hobbyists, so you know that at every level, from the hardware to the software, you'll get what you need to build more of what you want to build.