Atari Reveals the Final Design of the New VCS Console

Posted on April 1, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Games with 8 Comments

Atari just delayed the release of the new VCS, but it also has some good news for fans: Here’s the final design of the retro video game console.

“One of the best-received aspects of the Atari VCS is probably its amazing retro-futurist design, inspired by the original Atari 2600 Video Computer System,” a new post to the Atari VCS blog explains. “The new assembly plans will bring the Atari VCS hardware to life later this year, preserving the original design intent while streamlining the manufacturing process and assembly time.”

When it was originally announced in mid-2017, the Atari VCS—then called Ataribox—featured a ribbon design that harkened back to the design of the original Atari Video Computer System. That design, frankly, was more than a bit busy. But it was also difficult to manufacture, Atari says, thanks to its 16 discrete layers and a total of 18 different pieces. So the new design is simplified from a manufacturing perspective—it’s just two big pieces now, top and bottom—but still manages to look even more like the original.

The new Atari VCS, final design

“The team ultimately determined that the VCS should ‘float’ above the base surface, just like the original Atari 2600,” the post continues. This allowed them to also bring two USB ports to the front, enabling easier connectivity with joysticks and other peripherals. Atari also removed the SD card reader, which is redundant since the few users who will need it can connect to SD card readers via USB.

The original Atari VCS

Atari also changed the red-color light behind the device’s classic “Fuji” logo to white, which is more consistent with its other lights (and is likely less expensive). “The white Fuji indicator light will be used for a number of core Atari VCS communication messages about power, accessory pairing, internet connectivity, etc., which will be delivered via different patterns of blinking, pulsing and flashing, similar to the behaviors of other modern consoles,” the company explains.

Finally, the updated design retains the wood fascia insert for the Collector’s Edition and black insert for the Onyx model.

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Atari Reveals the Final Design of the New VCS Console”

  1. skane2600

    Would its appearance actually be a factor in anyone's decision to buy or not buy?

    • Brazbit

      In reply to skane2600:

      In a day and age where companies can get people to buy the same phone they already paid $1000+ for six months later because it is now Red? Probably more than you would think.

      Doubly so with this device. They are banking on Nostalgia to move units. You can't do that with a device that doesn't check off enough of the visual cues to evoke that nostalgia. There is a reason this unit looks like the 4 and 6 switches and not a Jr, 5200, 7800 or even a Jaguar. Actually the Jag design could have worked, it is still a very attractive looking system, had not the whole Coleco Chameleon fiasco happened.

      Besides... Woodgrain! ?

      • skane2600

        In reply to Brazbit:

        I doubt many people who bought a high end iPhone six months earlier replaced it with a new one just because of the color. There's also a difference between a latest-and-greatest device and a retro one.

        You can buy detailed models of classic cars but you aren't going to buy them if all they do is check off a few visual cues. I would describe the design of the original VCS as functional, but nobody considers it a work of art like a Bang & Olufsen turntable.

        • Brazbit

          In reply to skane2600:

          Having spent a fair amount of time around iPhone enthusiasts you'd be surprised how many do. It's not a huge percentage but it is a lot more than the zero it should be in any sane world. But just look back to the original iMac. It was just a Mac, no body was buying Macs and there was precious little they could do that was worth a premium over a PC, but take that same Mac and wrap it up in a cute colorful all-in-one package and it took the company from the brink of extinction and brought it to profitability virtually overnight.

          Ticking off a few visual cues is all most model cars do, most don't even have hoods that open let alone something like an accurately detailed engine or even true to scale dimensions yet model cars have been an industry nearly as long as there have been cars.

          The key VCS design keys and the Atari logo is all this has to offer that a million Raspberry Pi systems don't have, or other slapped together Chinese systems. The company is betting a lot that the wood paneling sticker on the front, the venting ribs on the top, the slight rise in the back and even the minimal floating effect of the smaller base will tickle elicit enough nostalgia to entice people to give the system a try. Because outside of that and the old games that they have licensed to anyone with a spare $5 over the past decade having them show up in everything from watches to 1/4 scale home arcade cabinets there is nothing to draw people to this machine.

          While the Intellivision folks are leaning hard into the nostalgia on their new system, despite the ergonomic atrocities that their old controllers were, they are focusing on being a family friendly system. So that there is at least some reason, beyond nostalgia, to give their system a try if you have kids or don't care for ultra-violence.

  2. Chris_Kez

    Incorporate the silver toggle switches or they're wasting their time with this retro design.

  3. jimchamplin

    Now all they need are the cartridge slot, option toggles, DIN ports, and they’re good.

    Option for a huge cream colored case with a mechanical keyboard to use it as an 800 will be nice too.

    While they’re at it, save money by not including Bluetooth or WiFi or any of that. Just build clone boards of the originals.

    • wright_is

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Building a clone board would probably be more expensive than taking an off the shelf Rasberry or similar device for a small production run these days.

      But I'd pay for a real Atari 800 clone with the original keyboard.