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GDC 2018 | The Ataribox is real, and it's more computer than gaming console

The Atari VCS (Ataribox) lives! (Image source: Tom's Hardware)
The Atari VCS (Ataribox) lives! (Image source: Tom's Hardware)
After months of delays and speculation, the Atari VCS (formerly the Ataribox) finally debuted in physical form at GDC. There's still a lot of information about the console that Atari is keeping close to the chest, but we do know that Atari VCS will be more akin to a Linux PC than a dedicated gaming console, which should expand its capabilities (and possibly appeal).

Despite all the delayed pre-orders, small dribbles of information, and mountains of speculation (including some on our behalf), the Atari VCS (formerly the Ataribox) made its physical debut at GDC. However, the Atari VCS appears to be less a game console and more a full-fledged computer.

Atari COO Michael Arzt told Tom’s Hardware that the machine will indeed run Linux (or, at least, a derivative of Linux) with its own Atari-themed UI. The device can be controlled through either a classically-styled joystick or a more modern gamepad. Users can also connect a keyboard and mouse through either USB or Bluetooth.

Due to it’s Linux-based OS, the Atari VCS will be able to run any game currently available for Linux, including Steam titles. The console will also ship with a collection of older Atari classics, but it’s not clear if these will be pre-installed or available as a separate purchase. Atari is encouraging indie developers to create new titles specifically for the machine as well.

So, how powerful is the machine? What games can it run? Can it be used for streaming media? These are good questions and, sadly, ones for which we are still awaiting answers. Atari still hasn’t released much information since the snippets we caught this fall, those being the AMD APU powering the system and the decent amount of I/O (3x USB, HDMI w/ 4K support, Ethernet, MicroSD card slot, WiFi).

It’s reassuring to see a physical prototype, but there are still plenty of questions that need answers. We'll hopefully learn more about the system soon, as Atari is scheduling the device for pre-order in April. The machine’s price is as yet undetermined but should land somewhere between USD $250-300.

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Joystick and Gamepad (Image source: Tom's Hardware)
Joystick and Gamepad (Image source: Tom's Hardware)

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 03 > The Ataribox is real, and it's more computer than gaming console
Sam Medley, 2018-03-21 (Update: 2018-03-21)
Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Review Editor - @samuel_medley
I've been a "tech-head" my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a Systems Analyst for my local school district. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news articles and notebook reviews. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not hunched over an electronic device or writing code for a new database, I'm either outside with my family, playing a decade-old video game, or sitting behind a drum set.