After 20 years as a software company, Atari made the surprising announcement during E3 that it was planning to step back into the hardware business with a new console called the Ataribox. Details are still scant, but the company has now drip-fed the first images and tantalizing tidbits to the public.
The initial announcement video teased us with some slow pans over a box adorned with design elements straight out of Atari's back catalog, like ribbed black plastic and wooden paneling. A new set of CG images give us a clearer idea of what to expect – on the outside at least – and the result is a console that wouldn't have looked out of place on top of a chunky CRT TV in the 80s. According to the company, the Ataribox will be available in two editions: wood and a black-and-red number.
The guts of the machine are still a mystery, but the ports on the back might give us a few clues. The Ataribox will have HDMI output, an SD card slot and four USB ports, which, according to the Atari release, "suggest modern internal specs." Originally, our money was on the Ataribox being a retro game emulator in the vein of Nintendo's Classic Mini consoles, but Atari has announced plans to deliver both classic and current gaming content.
While it's highly unlikely the Ataribox will be able to compete with the likes of the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch, it might be able to use its brand power to corner the "indie console" market, nuzzling in next to the Nvidia Shield and the ill-fated Ouya.
These scant details are raising more questions than they answer, but Atari promises we'll know more in the coming months, including specs, games, features, pricing and a release window.
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