Atari is introducing a brand new console to the market - its first for many years.

Formerly called Ataribox during an initial funding stage, it was renamed the Atari VCS - a throwback to the original name of the Atari 2600 in the 1970s.

It is confirmed to come with a Classic controller, that looks and feels like the original rubber joystick, plus a more modern gamepad. And there are many more features beside.

Here then is what we know about the box so far.

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Atari VCS design and specifications

The Atari VCS has a design inspired by iconic Atari products, a bit like the Atari 2600/VCS from the 70s and early 80s that it now shares a name with. It is slimmer and more set-top-box in stature, however.

It is claimed that the console will bring a "full PC experience" to your TV - hence the adoption of the "Video Computer System" part of its name. It'll offer apps and access to streaming, social, web browsing, music listening and more, including services such as Netflix and Spotify. A game streaming service is thought to be part of the system too, to give access to full, modern PC titles.

In terms of inside the box, a full spec list was published on the console's Indiegogo funding page in 2018. Since then, the processor has been upgraded:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 14nm processor
  • GPU: Radeon Vega
  • RAM: 4GB DDR4
  • Storage: 32GB eMMC, SD card slot and support for external HDD
  • Connections: HDMI 2.0, 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit Ethernet, 4xUSB 3.0
  • HDCP: HDCP 2.2 compliant
  • Operating system: Linux OS based on Ubuntu (Linux Kernel 4.10)
  • Microphones: 4 front-facing mic array
  • Screencasting: Yes
  • Power: Low TDP architecture
  • Weight: 1.36kg
  • Dimensions: 368.3 x 134.6 x 40.6mm

It will come with voice control, as evidenced by the microphone support in the specs. We don't yet know whether that will be custom or through a virtual assistant, such as Amazon's Alexa.

And Atari confirmed in April 2018 to Pocket-lint that the VCS will support 4K resolutions, HDR and 60fps gameplay. The latest Radeon Vega GPU supports this for video playback too.

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Atari VCS games and user experience

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Atari VCS will launch with Atari Vault, a 100-plus game collection of classic Atari games like Asteroids, Centipede and Missile Command. It will also support "current titles from a range of studios". We're not sure exactly how the latter will work yet but, because the operating system has an open nature, but Atari said players will be able to access and play games from other platforms.

It has confirmed that there will be a cloud game streaming option, but we're not yet sure who the partner is. Both Microsoft and Google are working on cloud gaming platforms that each could be tagged the "Netflix of games".

One game we have been told is highly likely to make it onto the box at launch is Tempest 4000 - the remake of the classic Atari arcade game.

The user interface adopted by the Atari VCS will be customisable. But, from the box it will look distinctly 70s and 80s, inspired by the time the original console was around.

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Screens of the current test version released by Atari show a tile-based structure that makes it easy to find the games you want to play instantly.

It's not that far removed from the latest UI of the Nvidia Shield TV, for example.

Atari VCS release date, price and pre-order deals

Pre-orders opened nearly a year after the Atari VCS was announced, via a hugely successful IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign.

Some models are still available to order from the site.

Prices now start at $239 (£180) for the Onyx Edition, but it doesn't include a controller. If you want a Classic Joystick included, along with the modern gamepad, you can order one "all-in" for $329.

Although the shipping date for all pre-orders is currently listed as "July 2019" on Indiegogo, Atari has delayed release to the end of 2019 in order to give the machine a power boost by using a more recent, beefier processor from AMD.

Once backers have received their machines, the Atari VCS will go on general sale. Most likely in 2020.