Atari has provided some encouraging production information to VCS project backers, as it notes the passing of the two year anniversary of its Indiegogo crowdfunding project. In brief, it says that this first 500 VCS console production units will leave the factory in mid-June. However, for the 11,597 Indiegogo backers waiting for their hardware, it only offers a woolly production schedule of "this summer" to fulfil its obligation.
Atari Mode / PC Sandbox Windows mode
It is probably fair to say that the modern Atari VCS has seen its fair share of delays. As per the intro, it debuted on Indiegogo two years ago, and was very popular, busting its fundraising goal 20X on its first day. Consoles aren't that popular with HEXUS readers, whom prefer PC hardware and software in general but the Atari VCS promises to go beyond console gaming ('Atari Mode' - Linux based) and double as a 'PC Sandbox Mode' Windows machine that sits under your TV.
In its latest update Atari provided a number of interesting videos showing the console working in both Atari and PC Sandbox modes. Above you can see the console being used for Netflix and Disney+ in Atari Mode. It is capable of streaming 4K video in up to 60fps. Below you can see the console playing Call of Duty Warzone in PC Sandbox mode (USB stick OS, plus PCIe SSD storage inserted with game library).
As it has taken such a long time for the Atari VCS to be realised, thankfully the developers have upgraded the internals. Last year it was revealed that the VCS will be upgraded to a Ryzen / Vega APU, the AMD R1606G Ryzen processor, to be precise, with 2C/4T base/boost of 2.6/3.5GHz, and Vega 3 graphics. It was originally touted as using an AMD SoC with Bristol Ridge A10 CPU and Radeon R7 GPU. Also featuring in the revamped design are upgradable DDR4 SODIMM slots x2 (8GB installed as standard in the 800 model, 4GB in the 400 model), and plenty of ports including 4x USB 3.1, Ethernet, HDMI, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi etc.
Atari VCS 800 System
- Dimensions: 11.6” x 5.9” x 1.9” (Approx.)
- Weight: 3lbs. (Approx.)
- Materials: Plastic, Metal, Wood
- Operating System: Atari Custom Linux OS (Linux Kernel)
- APU: AMD Raven Ridge 2
- GPU: Ryzen
- Storage: 32GB eMMC internal, unlimited external USB HD/stick, cloud (subscription required)
- RAM: 8GB DDR4 RAM (upgradable)
- Compatible Systems: Linux, Windows, Steam OS, Chrome OS
- Power: Low TDP architecture - Less Heat & Noise
- Wireless Connections: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4/5GHz, Bluetooth 4.0
- Wired Connections: HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, 4x USB 3.1
- USB Ports: 2x front, 2x rear
- External Inputs: Classic Joystick, Modern Controller, Microphone, Others TBD
- Mouse & Keyboard Support: Yes, USB or Bluetooth
- 4K Video w/ HDCP 2.2 Integration: Yes
- Internet Connection Required: Not for classic gaming but required to access all features
Atari is still offering console pre-orders on its dedicated VCS website. The Atari VCS 800 All In Bundle includes the Atari VCS 800 System, Classic Joystick, and Modern Controller at $389.99. I'd rather wait for the January (2021?) sale, by which time it should be in good supply.