CNX-Software and Hackaday are both carrying articles on the Realtek RTL8710 today. In case you haven’t already seen either of those (and I would recommend the CNX one for more technical details and buying info, if you’re so inclined), it’s basically an ESP clone (more castellated module pins at weird spacings) with an ARM Cortex M3, running at 166Mhz, with a little more available RAM than the ESP and 1MB of flash.
The modules have a metal can (similar to the ESP12) with an FCC logo, but Hackaday notes that they were unable to find any reference to it on the FCC site.
There doesn’t seem to be any useful information available for this module yet (apart from the price), so if you plonk down your cash, you’re going to have to do some guessing about connections, pull-ups, pull-downs, pin max voltage handling, etc. One seller’s site notes that deep-sleep for the unit is 10uA (so same ball-park as the ESP) and that the unit can respond to network traffic within 2ms of waking. There is also mention of “IR Remote Control”, although what that actually means is anyone’s guess (there’s no obvious receiver on the module). There are more available GPIOs (21 as opposed to 17 on the ESP).
So, right now I can’t see any reason for digging into my pocket for some spare change. There are some attractive aspects to this new unit (more RAM and an ARM processor), but nothing that reaches out, grabs you by the throat and screams “Buy me now, or you’ll be sorry!”. The main downer on the Realtek is that we’d all be stepping back in time by a couple of (fairly painful) years of trying to get a usable build environment working with little information available, other than Oogleg-translate versions of some Chinese forum postings (most of which condense down to “Honourable teacher, please be so kind as to tell us something, anything, about this wonderful plate”). No, I don’t think I want to go back to that particular space-time continuum again in a hurry.