Atari VCS gaming console Linux mini-PC finally available to pre-order

After many false starts, the Ubuntu-running living room system gets official pricing and specs as part of its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
Written by Sean Portnoy, Contributor

Atari VCS Onyx edition

If you've been following along with the continuing saga of legendary gaming brand Atari's latest venture -- a living room game console and Linux based PC that was originally dubbed Ataribox before morphing into Atari VCS -- you're well aware that it's had more false starts than a struggling offensive lineman. A crowdfunding campaign was teased and then abandoned, only to see the concept revamped with another campaign teased.

Believe it or not, Atari has finally delivered at least on the first part of its plan to get the VCS into the hands of actual customers. Its long-promised Indiegogo campaign has launched, and nostalgia freaks are already ordering systems to the tune of over $2 million as of this writing. As previously announced, pricing for the VCS starts at $199 for the Onyx console, but you need to cough up another $30 for the joystick, $49 for the "modern" controller, or $59 for both input devices. If you want the console with the wood trim reminiscent of the original Atari 2600 that is receiving the most hype, you'll need to pay $299, though that includes a joystick. (More than 1,500 have already been ordered as of this writing.)

While we've known about Atari's pricing plan and high-level spec info already, the Indiegogo page is giving us a first look at more detailed specs for the VCS. For instance, we knew that Atari was working with AMD, but we know now that the VCS is slated to use the Bristol Ridge A10 CPU as well as a Radeon R7 GPU. It will also include 4GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage, though with the USB ports and microSD card slot you can add external storage capacity if needed. The VCS will ship with an Ubuntu-based Linux operating system, which will allow buyers to use it for more than just retro gaming.

But clearly that is the primary appeal of the VCS, which will be the focus of the Atari user interface for the unit. The company will be retooling some of its classics to support multi-player mode across the Internet, complete with in-game chat and the potential to gamecast via Twitch. (Atari says it's in discussions with Twitch about streaming VCS games, but has nothing concrete to disclose currently.) Access to new games will be available through the Steam platform, though Atari has indicated it will be working on new titles as well.

Though the Indiegogo campaign and new details will delight retro gamers hoping for more concrete information on the VCS, the one bummer is the release date. Atari says it doesn't plan to ship the first consoles until a year from now. Will that deter you from buying one? Or is the promise of playing Centipede on your TV once again worth the wait? Let us know in the comments section below.

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