What is the Ataribox?

Do you guys remember a little while ago when I talked about Atari’s ambitious new project, the Ataribox?

Well, that thing wasn’t just going to never see the light of day again, we’ve got some new information on it, and you bet I’m going to tell you what I think of it.

So here we go

I did speculate in my last article about how this would probably be more than just a machine that has classic Atari titles loaded up on it, that wouldn’t be very interesting, not a ton of replayability there, you might as well have a plug and play controller. Here’s the kicker, it’s actually going to have, alongside the Atari games, a version of Linux for you to screw around with. This means that when you buy the Ataribox, you’re actually buying a mini-computer that has a lot of great Atari titles on it, you can run any other programs on the thing, and since it also comes with some USB ports, you’ll legitimately have the most interesting console/computer hybrid setup in the world.

Well, if we’ve got a computer on our hands, we’re going to have to know just how powerful something like this is going to be. So what will the Ataribox have as vital organs? Well, it’s going to be running a custom built AMD processor with Radeon graphics capabilities. Ok, so it’s nothing special. Well, actually it’s one step above just nothing since it doesn’t even have a graphics card to pull some of the weight off the CPU. But hey, it’s a box that’s main purpose is to run Atari games, the Linux thing is just a side feature, a really f*****g great side feature which has played a critical role in me possibly buying this when it comes out.

And for all this, how much will you be paying out of your wallet? Well, only a cool, cool, (actually really cool) $249-$299 depending on the version. Hey, that’s actually a really good price for something that runs Atari games and acts as a . You would only be able to get cheap netbooks with that money, and this seems like it’s going to be a real step up.

The Ataribox is shaping up to be something that’s actually kind of attractive, I mean, if I could own a small box that plays old Atari games and lets me use it as a computer, I’d be a pretty happy fellow. Maybe that’s because I like gadgets and this is looking more and more like a gadget. But there’s one more comparison that I’m going to make here that I’m sure nobody expected:

It’s just a Machine

Yeah, the Ataribox is a console that plugs into your , has Linux preloaded onto it, and has the ability to download games and play them. Granted, it has none of the specs an actual Steam machine would have, but it’s the same general concept, and I’ve got to say I think it’s better than what Valve tried to do a couple years ago.

The main factor in this, I would say, would be the price measured against the product. For a price that’s cheaper than a regular desktop computer, you can get something that is the same thing, is smaller, and plays Atari games. With the Steam machines, you were paying 700, 800, 900, over a thousand dollars for something that would ultimately be cheaper if you built it yourself. The Ataribox is a symbol of an era that passed many years ago, but it moves on by leaving room enough for the future to  download and play it from their couch.

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