UPDATE: According to a new Walmart listing, the Atari VCS is set to launch on November 27, 2020.
After many delays, redesigns, and interruptions from COVID-19, Atari's PC-console hybrid finally has a Fall 2020 shipping date.
The new Atari VCS PC-console hybrid is set to start shipping to Indiegogo backers this Fall, the company said in a recent press release. The news comes alongside an announcement of Missile Command: Recharged, the latest remaster-style re-release of an old-school classic on the VCS system. The fleet of newly redesigned classics serve as the major draw to the VCS insofar as software, but it's the system's unique Linux-based design that stands out.
Atari is branding the VCS as a true multmedia console that can switch to and from an open-ended PC at will. Gamers can load up multiple operating systems like Windows 10, Chrome OS, or Linux and play PC games in the console's Sandbox Mode. This allows lots of flexibility for the platform and is pretty innovative. Gamers can also switch back over to the VCS' native mode and play games specifically made for the platform on Atari's storefront, which will sell old-school retro classics and re-imagined titles with new modern designs.
The VCS also has modular parts and will let you swap out or upgrade new RAM sticks. Other multimedia includes a built-in web browser, access to streaming services, and digital video/music playback.
Even with this kind of flexibility, the VCS is somewhat under-powered and is still an iffy proposition, especially in a market that's currently dominated by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. The price is steep, too, and with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X on the way, gamers may find it hard to justify spending $249 for the 4GB RAM model, and $279 for the 8GB RAM.
The VCS does a few things that modern consoles don't, of course, like loading up other operating systems.
The console will run on an older 14nm AMD Ryzen APU with a 2-core Zen CPU and Vega GPU technology. That's...pretty underwhelming, especially with higher-powered Zen 4000 series laptops on the way. The flexibility of a PC-console hybrid depends totally on the SoC that powers it, so we're dubious how the VCS will handle gaming.
In any case, it's great the Atari VCS finally has a Fall 2020 release date and we're looking forward to seeing the system in action.
Atari VCS Specifications
- Specification* Measurement
- Unit Dimensions 14.5" x 5.3" x 1.6"
- Unit Weight 3 lbs.
- Materials Plastic, Metal, Wood
- Operating System Linux OS based on Ubuntu (Linux Kernel 4.10)
- Compatible Systems Linux
- Power Low TDP architecture - Less Heat & Noise
- Connections HDMI 2.0, 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit Ethernet, 4xUSB 3.0
- External Inputs Classic Joystick, Modern Controller, Microphone
- Storage 32GB eMMC, external HD, SD card
- RAM 8GB DDR4 RAM
- Memory 32GB eMMC
- CPU 2Core Ryzen CPU
- GPU Vega graphics
- HDCP Integration HDCP 2.2
- Second Screen (Screencasting) Yes
- Cloud Storage Yes. Additional Service Offering
- Required Internet Connection Not for classic gaming but required to access all features
- Cross Game Chat Skype, Discord, etc.
- Voice Commands 4-front facing mic array
- Subscription Needed? No. Includes cloud and other services.
- Live Streaming Yes with Twitch.tv
- Mouse & Keyboard Support Yes
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