Atari VCS, some desktop PCs and some retro consoles modeled after the Atari 2600, are finally available for retail sale. Atari sells consoles on its own site, but Best Buy and Micro Center also have a list. This isn’t the first time the console has been made publicly available (VGC states that IndieGoGo backers recently received the console), but it’s the first time the machine has been made available for retail sale.
VCS hasn’t been in a while. Originally teased as Ataribox in 2017, the project reappeared as Atari VCS the following year, and Atari ran an IndieGoGo campaign in June 2018 to raise development funding. Initially, the console was scheduled to ship in mid-2019, but reportedly encountered a series of development difficulties and the project’s lead architect resigned.
The released device technically does what Atari promised, but the reviews are pretty half-hearted. According to VGC, the 100 Atari games built into the console (18 from the arcade, 82 from the Atari 2600 console) could be fully emulated, but many are so basic that 2021 Can’t stand the gentlest scrutiny of. It’s also an app store where you can buy modern games, but picking isn’t slim and exclusive.
The console technically also acts as a streaming box for services such as Netflix and Disney Plus, but VGC states that these are just glorious Chrome bookmarks, not native apps. At least the promised desktop mode actually works and you can install Windows, Linux, or Chrome OS and use your machine like a good-looking desktop PC with modest specs.
When choosing the root for your desktop PC, the Atari VCS features the AMD Ryzen R1606G system-on-chip, paired with 8GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (both upgradeable). In addition to the Ethernet and HDMI 2.0 ports, there are two USB 3.1 ports on the front and two USB 3.1 ports on the back. In other words, don’t expect this machine to rival the Xbox Series S, despite a similar starting price of $ 299.99.
It’s safe to say that the Atari VCS shouldn’t rush to cut $ 299.99 (or $ 399.99 for the Walnut version with wireless joystick and controller, sold separately for $ 59.99 each). But despite its flaws, it’s an interesting mini PC that may inevitably be worth checking out as a curiosity when the price goes down.
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