Atari has announced that the Atari VCS will be available at major US retailers starting from Tuesday, 15th June. As well as being available via the official website, US residents will be able to grab this 'console' from the likes of Best Buy, GameStop, and Micro Center. Each outlet will have its own launch day promotions.
The road to this launch has been filled with potholes for Atari and its would-be customers. A quick look back at the HEXUS archives reveals that the reimagined Atari VCS was first announced over three years ago. It subsequently took this device through crowdfunding and various hardware revisions before the first batches reaching early bird customers a year ago. Meanwhile, a significant portion of pre-order folk had to wait until nearer Xmas for delivery fulfilment.
With the complicated history noted above, it is worth reminding readers about the specs which shipping devices will boast. The machine sis built around an AMD APU, specifically the AMD Raven Ridge 2 (RG1606G), with 8GB DDR4 and 32GB eMMC. Both the RAM and storage is upgradable, the latter by the use of internal M.2 SSD slot, external USB HD/stick, or cloud storage. The system has twin USB 3.1 ports front and back, as well as HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet. If you prefer wireless you can connect this machine via Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4/5GHz. It has Bluetooth 4.0 too. The 'plastic, metal, wood' constructed system size is 11.6" x 5.9" x 1.9" with a weight of 3lbs. For OS, the system will ship with Atari Custom Linux OS (Debian based) but you are free to install other Linux distros like Ubuntu, as well as move over to Windows 10 or ChromeOS. As shipped users get a choice of Atari Mode for gaming and streaming or productivity mode for work, content creation, social media and so on.
Buyers might be attracted by the promise of this machine offering great flexibility, as well as free access to 100 arcade and Atari 2600 classics. However, they might not know that Atari is trying to appeal beyond retro with free access to Antstream Arcade streaming games, as well as launching the machines with a mix of retro/modern indie titles through the Atari VCS store. Of course, as implied previously, you can scrub all this and use it as a mini PC with Windows / Ubuntu or ChromeOS.
As mentioned in the intro, the Atari VCS is almost ready for retail. It will come in the following configurations / prices; Atari VCS Onyx Base systems start at $299.99 USD, while Atari VCS Black Walnut and Onyx All-In system bundles include the Atari VCS Classic Joystick (available separately for $59.99) and Atari VCS Modern Controller (also $59.99) for $399.99 USD.