Now that the Atari VCS team has once again delayed its retro console to give it more powerful innards, it’s ready to show what that redesign looks like. The developers have unveiled what they say is the “production-ready” system design, and it pays even more of an ode to the Atari 2600 than before. The main body now floats above the base like the 2600 did, and addresses multiple “practical considerations” in the process. To start, two of the USB ports are now front-facing — it’s much easier to plug in a controller or keyboard.
It’s also considerably easier to make, with less wasted plastic and more space for cooling that new embedded AMD Ryzen chip. The VCS will also have a simpler light setup that uses Atari’s signature “Fuji” logo for alerts rather than a separate set of four lights.
There is a drawback to this redesign, though. The creators have removed the rear SD card slot, calling it “redundant” when you can plug in a thumb drive or external hard drive. That’s not going to please gamers who wanted to quickly transfer data, but the Atari VCS group is betting that you won’t mind when most other consoles don’t offer the feature.
The VCS is due to arrive in late 2019. It’s easy to be cynical about talks of a finished design given the system’s history — it has gone through numerous delays, revisions and even name changes, and it wouldn’t be surprising if there was another complication or two before then. However, this may really be an illustration of the dangers of both announcing early and relying on crowdfunding. Projects like this are effectively designed in public, and that means seeing many of the revisions that would normally remain behind closed doors.