Fresh from its latest delay, the AMD Ryzen-powered PC-cum-console Atari VCS has received a refreshed design - representing, its creators claim, a construction which has been 'completely overhauled' and an exterior which better reflects its eight-bit namesake.
Originally known as the Ataribox and unveiled as an AMD-powered compact PC in September 2017, the Atari VCS - named for the Atari Video Computer System, later rebranded to the Atari 2600, an eight-bit console which was one of the original Atari company's most popular products - hasn't had a smooth launch. The launch of a planned crowdfunding campaign was delayed by an unspecified key issue, but when it finally hit crowdfunding site Indiegogo in May 2017 it promptly smashed its goals.
In March this year, however, Atari warned that the release of the hardware to manufacturing was going to be delayed. To soften the blow: an upgrade to a considerably more powerful AMD Ryzen processor in place of the design's original AMD A10 'Bristol Ridge' part.
Now, the company which wears the Atari brand is revealing what it claims is a 'production-ready' design with the new hardware incorporated - though only as renders, rather than physical pre-production units. 'First and foremost,' Atari's announcement claims, 'by adding a small riser under the body, we think the VCS now visually-references the classic Atari 2600 design even more than before. The unit laying so flat on its body continuously came up in discussions amongst VCS team members and others. The team ultimately determined that the VCS should "float" above the base surface, just like the original Atari 2600.'
That relatively small change has meant room to move two of the four USB 3.0 ports, previously exclusively found at the rear of the console, to the front. Strangely, though, the shift has also seen the SD card slot removed from the design entirely - 'Standard USB A storage devices are ubiquitous,' the company claims in support of the move, 'and the decision to exclude the SD card port is in alignment with most modern consoles, which have 3 or 4 USB ports and should be sufficient for everyone's storage needs.'
Other changes to the design include a switch to white LEDs for the logo, a decision to switch from a 16-piece layered case design to an easier to manufacture four-piece shell, and a shift in dimensions to 312.4x150x50.8mm. Full details of the new design, which Atari claims is on-track to be delivered to backers by the end of the year with a retail launch planned for early 2020, can be found on the company's Medium post.
February 17 2020 | 09:00