The Atari VCS is a modern game console with a retro-inspired look, a Linux-based operating system, and the guts of an inexpensive computer. Designed for playing classic games as well as some newer titles, you can also use it like a cheap Linux desktop PC.
First launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2018, the Atari VCS finally began shipping to backers late last year. Later this month it’ll be available for purchase directly from stores.
The Atari VCS goes on sale June 15th for $300 and up.
Update: As promised, the Atari VCS is now available from:
The base price covers a VCS Onyx Base system with black chassis. If you want a set of controllers, you can pick up a Classic Joystick or a Modern Controller for $60 each or pay $400 for a bundle that includes the console plus one of each.
With an AMD Ryzen Embedded R1606G processor, Radeon Vega 3 graphics, 8GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage, the VCS isn’t exactly a powerful device. But it should be able to handle 4K video streaming and the classic 1980s-era games you’d expect to play on a retro console with the Atari name as well as at least some more recent games.
It also has an M.2 slot for an optional SATA SSD and can use one or more of its four USB 3.1 ports for external storage as well as for controllers or other peripherals including keyboards, mice, or headsets.
The VCS also has an HDMI 2.0 port for video output, and a Gigabit Ethernet port, which is a nice feature to have since the device’s wireless capabilities are pretty underwhelming: the spec sheet on the Atari VCS website says it tops out at 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, although the press release announcing retail availability mentions Bluetooth 5.0 support, so it’s possible that the wireless card has been upgraded.
Early reviews of the Atari VCS were not great. But if you’ve been wanting to get your hands on one and didn’t want to deal with a crowdfunding campaign, the wait is almost over.
Base price needs to drop by $100 at least.
I thought the base unit was $249, then later $279…now $299? That’s more than I’m willing to gamble. At $249 I was going to purchase one from Wal-Mart, but this is just too much for what ends up being a console with no future and no support…even if I can use it for a linux computer. I already have a computer….
Seems like a risky purchase. Niche interest products like this don’t really have much lasting interest. I’ll bet this thing is going to see one production run, and call it quits.
Why not just buy something that isn’t going to depend on ongoing software update support from a company nobody has heard of?
Adding to others’ observation: Classic VCS games can be emulated on nearly anything today, including web browsers.
Really, this is simply a Linux game box that connects to a TV. The only selling point is the VCS inspired design of its housing.
This has always smelled like a get-rich quick and easy scheme for the people behind this. (And exactly who are they, and how many of them are involved?) If they can sell 10,000 units, that’s $3 million. If they invested less than $500,000; if there are three or fewer of people involved; and if the Atari license cost is low (the company holding the rights seems to grant the license out to anyone for cheap), then this could be a nice profit for what could be from selling an off-the-shelf Linux media box. I predict they will try to sell out their hardware inventory over two years, and then get out.
You could just buy a 4GB S905X4 TV box and retro/Android game on that. Maybe buy a Switch by Nintendo.
Or you could buy an actual VCS somewhere – I still see the things in antique stores for under $100 – and put a Pi in it beside the original guts and have both.
This thing was an answer looking for a question no one was going to ask.
Griff, by God man…I think you nailed it. One sentence…to sum up the Atari VCS. Period.
Personally, whatever you’re doing for a career? STOP it right now and start writing. This world needs more writers…smile.
“This thing was an answer looking for a question no one was going to ask.”
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