As if to show Atari how it’s done when a real company develops a real product, Hyperkin announced today that they’re now taking pre-orders for their Retron77 console. The $69.99 retro-console is expected to start shipping to customers on July 7, 2018.
While the Retron77 doesn’t promise to usher in an era of newAtari games, it looks like it will be pretty awesome for a few important reasons:
- It actually exists,
- it’s shipping in less than a month,
- it’s reasonably inexpensive,
- 720p over HDMI,
- real cartridge slot for playing actual Atari 2600 cartridges,
- real controller ports for using your favorite vintage controller,
- and a nice-looking joystick that features an often-requested feature: an ambidextrous fire button!
I had heard rumors about a year ago that Retron77 would be an FPGA-based implementation of the Atari 2600, but it’s not stated in the product description on their website whether this is so, or if it will rely on emulation. If it does use emulation, it’s my hope that the system will prove to be hackable to emulate other systems, such as the Atari 5200 or 7800. But I would be more excited by a FPGA-based system due to the fidelity to the original hardware made possible by FPGA technology.
Other Retron consoles by Hyperkin have been spotty, with problems ranging from terrible controllers to poor emulation quality to violating open source software licenses, so it remains to be seen if the Retron77 will be worth buying. But their more recent offerings have been better, and they seem to have hit all the right notes with this one. I’m looking forward to having one that I can test with soon.
Either way, it is a real product, and will ship in less than a month, and for under $100. By contrast, the AtariBox may come out in about a year, for $300, with unknown developers lined up to release unknown new titles at launch.