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Atari Is Back In the Hardware Business, Unveils Ataribox (hothardware.com) 110

Reader MojoKid writes: Atari CEO Fred Chesnais confirmed the company was working on a brand new console back in June this year at E3, but today the company has officially unveiled the product. The new Ataribox console draws on some of the classic styling of the original Atari 2600 console but with a modernized flare, though still sporting that tasty wood grain front panel. Atari is also looking to make the Ataribox a bit more user-friendly and expandable than its Nintendo rivals through the addition of an SD card slot and four USB ports (in addition the requisite HDMI port). The new console will be based on PC component technologies but will be available with a number of classic games to let you bask in the early days of console gaming. However, Atari will also be bringing what is being billed as "current content" to the console as well. So, we can expect to see brand new licensed games for the Ataribox, although it's hard to say, given just its size to go on, what sort of horsepower is lurking under the Ataribox's hood. "We know you are hungry for more details; on specs, games, pricing, timing," said Atari in a statement sent via email. "We're not teasing you intentionally; we want to get this right, so we've opted to share things step by step as we bring this to life, and to listen closely to the Atari community feedback as we do so."

Atari Is Back In the Hardware Business, Unveils Ataribox

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  • Will it run full emulators? or the crap pay ones?

    Let you load your own roms?

    • Most likely not. ROMs are legal grey areas. It could be considered copyright infringement if the copyright holder decided to pursue legal action. And this Atari company isn't exactly the same company as the one from the 1980s; I doubt they own any of the copyrights of the old games.
      • I'm just hoping it will let me play Kaboom...hooked to a modern HDTV....and not have to try to kludge running though an old VCR or the like to try to get it to sync with my LCD/Plasma/OLED tvs.....never have been able to get that old original 2600 to work right with video on modern tv.
        • .....never have been able to get that old original 2600 to work right with video on modern tv.

          For real? My 2600 is hooked up to a 1080p 24" LED TV and seems to work just fine.

          I'm using something similar to this instead of the old switchbox:
          http://www.mouser.com/ProductD... [mouser.com]

          • I've tried and 2600 picture tears, or is static...same thing with different units on my different TV's I cannot get any 2600 unit to display on any HDTV I try.

            My main one is a Samsung Plasma 59", last of the plasmas....and I have tried everything to get the old games to play on them.

            • Are they all samsung? Samsungs have great pictures, but shitbag interfaces, they need, strong perfect signals or they crumble like little girls. I can't blame anyone for getting one, but they are temperamental.
        • There are a number of people who have designed mods for the 2600 (as well as other consoles) that allow it to output composite or S-Video. A number of these are discussed/demonstrated on YouTube.

          Here is one of them: Atari 2600 AV + pause drop in pcb mod for 6 + 4 switchers composite stereo s-vid [youtube.com]

          Be sure to read through the comments, the poster lists his web store in the last thread. If he doesn't have them, a look through the related videos may give you some leads

          ---PCJ

        • I spent many drunken hours playing River Raid and even played their Olympics and Tank games with drunken friends. So many wasted hours. I may actually get one of these.

        • Indeed, Kaboom! was cool but you only really play it with paddle controllers. Same goes for other breakout clones. Missile Command with a trackball (or an inverse trackball called a mouse). If you're really, really interested, research getting a Flashback 2+ and implementing the cartridge connector and see if that will work.
      • why can't really just buy the roms and use your own emulators??

        • by Junta ( 36770 )

          legally sure.

          Now find a company that owns the rights that will play ball, since ultimately the copyright holders have to do that.

          Also, in part a customer usage issue. Even if they were willing to play ball, it is much easier to support selling the rom embedded in an emulator than it is to explain how to use a rom file with emulators. If a user can't figure it out, they will blame the company and the company will get badly rated.

          • now they can make it so that that rom files are easy to get to copy them to your own emulator but lot's of them can just scan an DIR and load files.

        • why can't really just buy the roms and use your own emulators??

          Buy the ROMs? I'm not sure what you are asking. There are cartridges of the old games. Getting the cartridges out of the old games and making them ROMs might, maybe constitute space shifting at best which is allowed under Fair Use. However, it only falls under Fair Use if the person that does it doesn't re-distribute the ROMs. Distribution or re-distribution can only be done legally by the copyright holder.

          This is the same for any content. I can rip any of my movies off of DVDs or Blurays and put them on my

          • by arth1 ( 260657 )

            Buy the ROMs? I'm not sure what you are asking. There are cartridges of the old games. Getting the cartridges out of the old games and making them ROMs might, maybe

            You seem to be unaware that ROM is what's in the cartridges.
            A file, which you seem to talk about, is a rip of the ROM, not the ROM itself.

            • I am well aware of what a ROM is. How does the act of making a ROM in any way remove the copyrights of the game? It doesn't remove any copyrights. At best it's space or format shifting which could fall under Fair Use if and only if the ROM is never distributed.
              • by arth1 ( 260657 )

                I am well aware of what a ROM is. How does the act of making a ROM in any way remove the copyrights of the game? It doesn't remove any copyrights.

                Obviously, you don't know. If you get out of your misconception that a ROM is a copy, and re-read the GP, you'll find that what was talked about was using the ROM in legal cartridges. No copy involved.

                • Obviously, you don't know. If you get out of your misconception that a ROM is a copy, and re-read the GP, you'll find that what was talked about was using the ROM in legal cartridges. No copy involved.

                  How is it not a copy? The cartridge was the one and only original? It was a copy too. Creating a ROM from it is creating a copy. It's called format shifting. It's no different than ripping a CD, Bluray, or DVD. I can do that to content I own. The problem is that just because I own a copy doesn't mean I have rights to upload the content to the Internet.

                  • by arth1 ( 260657 )

                    <teaspoon>
                    You use an ORIGINAL BOUGHT AND PAID FOR cartridge. (ROM)
                    No one is copying anything.
                    </teaspoon>

                    • You use an ORIGINAL BOUGHT AND PAID FOR cartridge. (ROM) No one is copying anything.

                      So you implanted the chip in the cartridge directly in your computer by soldering it directly onto your Motherboard? Is your soldering and electrical engineering skill level that high? No, you extracted the software from the ROM (read-only memory) chip and put it memory on your computer. Creating a ROM image file is creating a copy. How is that not copying? Ripping a movie or music file off a DVD or CD is creating a copy. Fair Use allows you to create that copy in certain cases like backups and format shift

                    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

                      The GP never said anything about using the old cartridges with the system. He clearly said "buy your ROMs". He never said "buy old cartridges." Someone somewhere had to extract the game from the cartridge to make a ROM file from old games.

                      Again, you confuse ROMs with ROM files. The two are not the same. When someone says ROM and not "copy of ROM", you can safely assume that they mean the actual physical ROM.

                      Once you've bought the ROM, nothing prevents you from making a private copy for use in an emulator. If your electronic skills aren't up to par, people make and sell interfaces for legally reading game cartridges, including Retrode (for N64/Gameboy) and A26 (for Atari 2600).

                    • Again, you confuse ROMs with ROM files. The two are not the same. When someone says ROM and not "copy of ROM", you can safely assume that they mean the actual physical ROM.

                      You didn't answer the question: Did you solder the chip into your motherboard or not? No. At best you used an adapter which Atari has not mentioned they will make. Again neither the GP said anything about using a cartridge through an adapter which would be perfectly legal and require absolutely no questions. He's clearly talking about getting ROM files from somewhere to use including buying them. All of which you are ignoring.

                      Once you've bought the ROM, nothing prevents you from making a private copy for use in an emulator. If your electronic skills aren't up to par, people make and sell interfaces for legally reading game cartridges, including Retrode (for N64/Gameboy) and A26 (for Atari 2600).

                      Did you even read any of my comments at all? I clearly said making a ROM from your

        • why can't really just buy the [cartridges] and use your own emulators??

          Because sometimes the console makers decide to sue manufacturers and sellers of game cartridge readers for contributory copyright infringement because the devices let users make infringing copies of first-party games and of third-party games containing a statically linked copy of the console maker's standard library. Remember Lik Sang?

          Or because the Retrode [dragonbox.de] doesn't have a plug-in for Atari 2600/7800, 5200, XEGS, Lynx, or Jaguar cartridges.

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @12:10PM (#54826157) Homepage
    I don't see a cartridge slot or nine-pin connectors for joysticks.
    • by crow ( 16139 )

      You can use old controllers through USB with the Stelladaptor. I would hope that whatever controllers they offer will work through USB in a way that is compatible, but they may be going entirely Bluetooth for controllers. There was nothing in the article to say what their controller plan is. I'm hoping whatever they do, the new controllers will work well with other emulators and such.

      Time will tell.

      • by suutar ( 1860506 )

        One of the pictures in TFA shows the back panel... it looks like, in addition to the obligatory power, ethernet, and hdmi, there's what looks like 4 USB jacks, so I think there's hope.

        • by crow ( 16139 )

          I agree. The only reason I can think of to have that many USB ports is if they intend to use them for controllers. Using wired controllers is so retro, so I guess it's appropriate. I wonder if it keeps the cost down, or if the cables and ports are more expensive than the Bluetooth chips? Probably including rechargeable batteries makes wires cheaper.

          • If they are wired controllers, they should come with really long cables. That's one mistake Nintendo made with the NES Classic; people have bigger TVs and control them from further away than when the original console was new.
            • That's one mistake Nintendo made with the NES Classic; people have bigger TVs and control them from further away than when the original console was new.

              Consoles with short controller cables and long video cables are intended to sit on your coffee table. This was true of the original Family Computer, and it remains true of the NES Classic. In Japan they have a habit of putting a small space heater under the coffee table [wikipedia.org], with a comforter to direct the heat to the seating.

              • Consoles with short controller cables and long video cables are intended to sit on your coffee table.

                So I should re-arrange my living room to accommodate a console? I shouldn't use the furniture I have? By the way, I don't have a coffee table. I do have side tables. Even if I had a coffee table, the problem with your proposal is that a dangerous tripping hazard is now in my living room.

                This was true of the original Family Computer, and it remains true of the NES Classic.

                My point again: Times have changed. People no longer set up their living rooms like that anymore. Furniture has changed. Computers and monitors for example don't require larger footprints. Desks can be smaller. A TV console

    • Or more accurately no 3.5mm jack. You can add a USB DAC perhaps but if this is a small, low end low power console we won't necessarily connect it to a proper TV or gasp, an oversized overpriced AV receiver.
      It could go to a monitor, or a video projector, or be used as a music player so easy cheap audio out is welcome if you can put it in, thanks.

  • What would be truly awesome is if this would work with any old Atari cartridge you might have sitting around. They could do this with an optional USB cartridge reader.

    Since obviously they're using an emulator internally, they would have to have a really good one for this to work, but it would be incredibly awesome.

    • There would be a 150-game pirate cartridge made even before the adapter is available :)

      • by crow ( 16139 )

        Well, if it plays off of ROMs on SD cards, then that would kill any pirate cartridge market. I think people who still have cartridges would enjoy using them, and it would mean people could use the games they already own instead of downloading them from questionable sources.

        Of course, what the consumers want isn't the only factor that drives product design. The company will probably see the ability to play cartridges or downloaded ROMs as lost sales from their app store, so I expect it will only play ROMs

  • Only Atari in name (Score:5, Informative)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @12:13PM (#54826177)

    The company calling itself Atari today has no real connection to the real Atari of old, except in name. For all intents and purposes, the real Atari went out of business in 1984. The name has changed hands many times since.

    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      I worked at Accolade when Infogrames (French) bought the company on a buying spree in the run up to the dot com bust. They bought Hasbro Interactive, which held the Atari intellectual property (IP) rights. The company later changed its name to Atari. And then the dot com bust happened. The company found out it overpaid for acquisitions by two to four times actual value, which it sold for pennies on the dollar to pay off acquisition debt. Still recycling the Atari brand since then.
    • Well name and access to IP rights. But in short that is what a company of any age is anyways.

      The real question is what is Atari bringing new to the console market?
      The XBox and Play Station market, Are competing for the High End gaming market.
      Nintendo is mostly focused on the family market.

      To compete against the XBox and Play Station. Atari will really need to push specs, and be open to other developers.
      Atari going against Nintendo is only going to bring up old wounds.

      The nostalgia market isn't that sustain

      • by Megane ( 129182 )

        The real question is what is Atari bringing new to the console market? The XBox and Play Station market, Are competing for the High End gaming market. Nintendo is mostly focused on the family market.

        Think of it in terms of price ranges. I could see it if they are going for the $49-$99 market. Nintendo has the $149-$249 market covered, while Sony and Microsoft have the $250-$399 market covered. But the important question is how do they plan to sell the blades for this razor? The money isn't in selling consoles, no matter how cheap, unless you're Chinese and selling glop-chip consoles loaded with unlicensed games.

        SD card slot yes, but does it have DRM like most modern consoles to prevent running unautho

      • The nostalgia market isn't that sustainable.

        It probably doesn't help that Atari's "golden age" IP (late 70s to mid 80s) has been mined, rehashed and generally exploited non-stop for nostalgia-heavy purposes for the past 20 years at least (e.g. this updated "version" of Centipede [youtube.com] Hasbro released in the late 90s).

        Beyond a certain point, the novelty of having the exact same games from your childhood sold back to you for the hundredth time must wear off. I mean, I saw this story with the same old "Atari's back" playbook and wanting-to-have-its-cake-and

    • For all intents and purposes, the real Atari went out of business in 1984.

      You could argue that the successor companies formed when it split (Atari Corp., the consumer division, which Jack Tramiel bought and Atari Games, the remaining arcade division) were legitimate heirs since they pretty much continued the business of the original Atari Inc.

      That said, even Atari Corp. had less continuity with Atari Inc. than I once thought; Tramiel pretty much got rid of the existing engineering staff and replaced them with his own people, and the low-budget philosophy that produced the "Powe

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      And logo. :(

    • by Vektuz ( 886618 )
      Yes. Its part of the Atari Curse.

      The ATARI curse is a sequence that forever repeats
      • Company with Atari name goes bankrupt
      • Atari name is sold to new company
      • New company renames itself to Atari
      • REPEAT THE CYCLE
    • The home-division died in 1984, but I was working for what was left of their arcade division in the late 90's. Then they got bought by someone in the 2000's in order to get the name. THAT is probably the company being talked about here.

  • I'd be surprised if this thing ever comes out. All they have right now are renders.
    And they're not going to have anywhere near the number of interested buyers as the NES Classic or SNES Classic.

    They're either going so slowly because they're working on a licensing and payment model (i.e., their own digital store to buy Atari games for a couple of bucks a piece), or they're drop feeding info to gauge interest.

    • Agreed. I have to assume the teasers are actually an attempt to attract venture capital investments.

      The only way I can see this succeed is if it goes right after the NES Classic - a cheap device that emulates all of the old Atari classics. If they're trying to make a serious modern gaming console with a $150+ price, they have to make something to compete with the Nintendo and especially Sony and Microsoft consoles that most of their potential customers already own, and attract developers to make serio
    • They're targeting a different market. The AtGames portable has the emulator market tied up. I'll bet they're taking an early swipe at the NES Classic but with an online market. The guts of the machine will most likely be AllWinner Android box with modified version Android 6. So you can also get streaming services and use prebuilt dev tools [androidauthority.com] and games already on the Play Store [google.com]. Version 2 or 3 is where they'll go after the the Switch market once that shakes out.
      • Early swipe? The NES Classic came out late last year, was perpetually sold out, and is discontinued. This year we're getting the SNES Classic.

    • by eepok ( 545733 )
      Thank you for saying this! There are too many people online who can't differentiate between renders and reality so they don't read the article and they see "an object" and thus assume that said object is physically real and at least nearing production. Futurists do this a lot. "So and so is doing this! Amazing!" But when you read further, you see that it's an artist's rendering based on some ideas that a guy wrote on a napkin.

      They may be at some point in planning, investigating, financing, etc. ... but t
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @12:20PM (#54826237)
    Make it a Steam Box. Otherwise what's the point of x86? I guess the could run Windows but the cost would probably be to high.
    • I expect making it x86 just makes development easier. It probably just has a Linux variant where you could probably hack it to run steam. But it would just be less work on converting their current stuff over.

      • Importantly x86 gives you about the best GPU drivers. This will be either Intel or AMD, perhaps Intel is not really great on that front but not really bad either.
        An nvidia ARM chip also gives you a top notch GPU driver but their one current chip's production, the Tegra X1 goes entirely to Nintendo Switch surely.

        Android gaming on phones is a thing so I suppose you can get something workable there also, but you will be stuck to a particular Android version or a couple ones. We have enough Android crap as is a

  • What would be cool is a fairly simple system with fully documented hardware. Something that openly encouraged experimentation. It could even come with a simple assembler and BASIC applications in ROM.

  • I figure it will run a modified version of Android (most likely) or Ubuntu. I would say Android because then they get access to Android library. Ubuntu would be great because you get more bare metal performance and better integration with some of the developer libraries. I'm hopeful. But unless they either make it really cheap (like those AtGames machines) or the same price point as the Switch with more power I see it bombing fast. You can get emulators on your phone to play all the classic games. Heck Ata
    • It can also run Windows 10 and get access to the Windows Store library. Just kidding here but access to the Android library might be precisely what we do not want. Millions of clones of pay-to-win games, etc. I don't want to get a controller in my hands, scroll a 250-page list of crap and waste $0.99 on something useless or ad-ridden.

      Ubuntu would be interesting, they could also eventually bring their Atari game store to Ubuntu desktops/laptops (although there's support costs. I suppose they could require Wa

  • The only thing they have shown to the public is a bunch of renders, not even a prototype or a mockup. It wouldn't a good bet to say this is vaporware.

    • Yeah. It's coming from the company that owns the Atari NAME, that's it. We might as well be discussing something a guy drew on a bar napkin.

      There's literally no hardware information or plans. It sounds like they dumped this zero effort render to gauge people's interest, or hell, to simply generate some free PR to remind people they still exist. (With no intention of making the product.)

  • It would be fun if it could handle BASIC programming like the 2600 did. Even in it's limited form it was fun to play with as a kid. Might give it that truly nostalgic feel.
    • by faedle ( 114018 )

      That has to be the shittiest implementation of a BASIC programming language in existence. For that matter, it's the shittiest implementation of ANY programming language in existence.

  • Some yutz that is using the name Atari, and they have not brought us anything but veuge marketing lingo for "we dont have anything" and a few 3d renders

  • by should_be_linear ( 779431 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @01:26PM (#54826755)
    I would love to see PC designed in Atari ST or Amiga style, meaning as a slightly enlarged keyboard, with good performance for both gaming AND tinkering (i7, 1080 Ti, 32 GB RAM, SSD 500 GB), good price (1000$). I really loved being able to carry my computer around, attach it to TV, and play with my friends anywhere, not being attached to some stupid desk with stupid tower under the desk and all the stupid cables, speakers and whatnot.
    • As much as I love my Amiga 1200, I have to say I would have MUCH preferred it to come as a pizza box with an external keyboard than a fully integrated machine. No matter how much you try to cut down the form factor, an integrated keyboard is just too bulky and I don't want more than one cable coming out the back. Plus, as any laptop owner can attest, broken keyboards are a bitch.

      Last time I used the machine was yesterday, BTW.

      • It was called the Amiga 3000 [wikipedia.org]
        • It was called the Amiga 4000 if you wanted to play the same games - the A3000 had the ECS chipset, the A1200 had AGA which was matched by the A4000. Sadly, the A4000 included a LOT more than just an A1200 in a pizzabox, so it was many times the price too. I agree with the idea that if there was a 68020-based A1200 Desktop model, with the same expansion potential as an A1200 rather than the 030/040, Zorro and CPU slots of the A4000, it would have been a huge success.
          • Amiga CD 32 with external keyboard would have been another option.
            It was blockaded from reaching the US because of a XOR cursor patent!
            This is what killed the Amiga 1200 and Commodore outright more than anything. It would have sold millions and would have made the A1200 a bit more relevant anyway.. as till Commodore's death Amiga games only targeted the A500.
            Maybe the A1200/A4000 family would still have had a hard time against the 486 DX 33 and 486 DX/2 66 with Sound Blaster and VLB but with the console ver

          • I would have loved a desktop A1200, too, but sadly no Amiga at the time could have been a huge success. The AGA chipset wasn't competitive and its use of planar graphics was its end, since it couldn't do fast textured 3D.

            I remember being sorely disappointed by the performance of the A4000, and how Workbench screen refreshes were noticeably slower than on the stock A1200 (due to the faster CPU slowing down the custom chip timings). I bought the 1200 anyway, and it's still my favorite computer of all time,

        • Your concept of a "pizza box" may not be the same as mine. The A3000 may have been smaller than the 2000, but it was hardly compact.
  • as even Atoms run really, really hot. Even if that entire thing inside is a giant heat sink and the processor is severely under clocked...it would just get too hot with no fan. So even though part of the description eluded to PC hardware I hope they go with an ARM SoC.

    Also, I'd like to point out hardware has come to such a point economically as to be completely irrelevant. Even if the graphics and capabilities can't go much passed ~2002 era, that's still Morrowind era. That's enough to run the source eng

  • The new Ataribox console draws on some of the classic styling of the original Atari 2600 console but with a modernized flare

    I guess it runs very hot.

    • If parts of the CPU reach 80C but it never crashes and works for 20 years, I don't see much wrong in that.

  • I feel quite nostalgic about the 2600 - it was our first and only gaming console, followed later by a Dragon 32, then by an Atari ST and then PCs. Now having kids of my own that get to be about old enough to start gaming, I might get them this console... provided the price is right, and provided it's got some sort of chance of enduring against the big players (Sony, Nintendo, ...). Still, I prefer them playing outside or with some sensible hands-on games rather than sitting in front of a screen. Oh well...

  • To what extent would you need Atari's permission to build and sell something like this? The problems would be putting the Logo on it (so don't do that) and including ROMs. Could you sell it with an emulator and no ROMs?

    I would think that any patents involved would be long expired, so copyright would be the only issue. The big problem there is any built-in operating system. You couldn't include that without the licensing. That's probably the showstopper.

  • It's been too long.

  • With the correct controllers, I will be all over this! Hell I'll probably buy it regardless, but I really miss the paddle controllers and the feel of the original joysticks. Games needed, let's see what I can recall, are:

    Yars' Revenge (OK, I cheated by looking up where the apostrophe goes)
    The Empire Strikes Back (the one with the snow walkers)
    Stargate, etc. (love them sounds)
    Robotron
    Combat (oh so much fun vs. my brother)
    Pac-Man (it looked terrible compared to the arcade but it was good enough!)
    Chopper Comma

  • I knew as a kid I was getting a video game console for christmas, I thought for sure it would be an Atari... what I got was a fucking pong game.... GRRRRrrrrr :(
  • This is from the summary, not the linked article.

    Get an editor.

  • The only way that I could see this working is if it was as easily programmable as Gary Kitchen's Gamemaker.

    Give us the classic, yet simplistic games --- and then let us hack them and upload our own creations.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.

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