The Atari VCS – a partly desktop PC, partly a retro console modeled on the Atari 2600 – is finally available in stores. Atari sells the console through its own website, while Best Buy and Micro Center also have their offerings. This is not the first time the console has been open to the public (VGC notes that IndieGoGo backers recently received their consoles), but it’s the first time the machine has gone to retail stores.
The VCS has been a long time coming. Originally teased as “Ataribox” in 2017, the project reappeared the following year as Atari VCS, with Atari running an IndieGoGo campaign in June 2018 to fund its development. Originally scheduled to ship in mid-2019, the console reportedly encountered a number of development issues that culminated in the termination of the project’s lead architect.
The released device technically delivers what Atari promised, but the ratings were pretty average. VGC says the console’s built-in selection of 100 Atari games (18 from the Arcade and 82 from the Atari 2600 console) could be perfectly emulated, but many are “so incredibly simple that they really won’t stand the mildest test in 2021 “. . ”There is also an app store where you can buy modern games, but the selection is limited and there is a lack of exclusive offers.
Technically, the console also works as a streaming box for services like Netflix and Disney Plus, however VGC states that these are just “glorified Chrome bookmarks” and not native apps. At least the promised desktop mode actually works, so you can install Windows, Linux, or ChromeOS and use the computer like a humble but cool looking desktop PC.
If you opt for the desktop PC, the Atari VCS is powered by an AMD Ryzen R1606G System-on-a-Chip, paired with 8GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (both upgradeable). There are two USB 3.1 ports on the front and two, Ethernet and HDMI 2.0 ports on the back. In other words, don’t expect this device to compete with an Xbox Series S despite its similar starting price of $ 299.99.
Suffice it to say, you probably won’t be over $ 299.99 for the Atari VCS (or $ 399.99 for the Walnut version that comes with an included wireless joystick and controller, which are sold separately for $ 59.99 each are) should output. But despite its weaknesses, it’s still an interesting mini PC that might be worth a curiosity if it inevitably drops in price.