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Ever change your mind on which Atari 2600 you prefer?


ckrtech
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My first Atari 2600 - which is also my first game console - is a 4-switch woodgrain. When it came time to do video mods a couple of decades later, that is the one I modded because it will always be mine. I am due to refurb it a bit internally - change the video mod out for a superior one, upgrade the voltage regulator, re-cap, etc...

 

However, I must say that some of these other Atari 2600 models look appealing... and I am thinking about maybe changing things up for a bit - maybe give my "go-to Atari" 2600 a bit of a switcheroo.

 

I don't have all the versions - my original 4 switch woodgrain, 6 switch woodgrain (boxed), Sears Video Arcade 2, and Vader.

 

And I have to say - at least visually - they all have their own appeal. The irony? I kinda want to mess around with using a Sears Video Arcade Rev A - one I don't have. Ha!

 

---

 

Just interested in individual stories on preferences - Did you find one looks better than another? Did you go to a 6 switch because you wanted the difficulty switches all within reach? Did you change it up simply because of build quality? Sentimental value?

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Oh, happens all the time. I'm always torn between the small rainbow Jr. that looks beautiful next to the 7800 and 5200 or the heavy sixer which looks best on its own. Granted, I only have a heavy sixer and I don't need two 2600s, but I definitely go back and forth.

 

The Vader is beautiful too, but it just isn't the same.

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I understand there are differences between the console variations, but I can't say I ever gave it much thought, other than thinking the Junior was the least ugly at one point.

 

If you're modifying a system, maybe you could make it prettier. Also, if you can, put the power supply inside the case, and put the controller ports in front. That's what I would do if I had any skills in that domain.

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I understand there are differences between the console variations, but I can't say I ever gave it much thought, other than thinking the Junior was the least ugly at one point.

 

If you're modifying a system, maybe you could make it prettier. Also, if you can, put the power supply inside the case, and put the controller ports in front. That's what I would do if I had any skills in that domain.

 

I've bounced back and forth on which one I thought looked the best and I'm not sure I have a clear favorite even now. I do like my Jr. because it's more portable.

 

As far as modding goes, someone with decent soldering and woodworking skills could make a really nice actual wood system. Add a bit of brass and maybe some leather....

It wouldn't be hard to relocate the switches and controller ports. It's something that has crossed my mind, but I'd have to find the money to pick up a extra 2600 to mod. Maybe someday I'll get around to doing it. ;)

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My first VCS, a heavy 6'er, it is a fav. Got it on release day. In retrospect I liked the heavy no-compromises construction. Later on I got a light 6'er and likeded it because of the angular style in the front. Both will likely remain favorites of the past. I don't get excited by the woody, vader, junior, or 7800. I didn't like the difficulty switches being hidden. And buttons on a VCS seemed wrong. And 4 switch units are single-board cost-cutter models. I dislike that. I'm indifferent to the Sears' Tele-Games consoles. I'm sure they're cool however.

 

The only thing remaining from my 1977 h'sixer is the chipset. And I can 100% confirm it is the TIA that survived the years. It's the grey AMI version. The Riot and 6507 may be from later units. I'd have to research into it all.

 

Most people still continue to dislike emulation, but I have to say that Stella is my favorite console and I game on it weekly. Reliability, consistency, and convenience are unparalleled, so it is my fav today. I'm at the point where farting around with wires and clutter and piles of cartridges is no longer a desirable experience. Make no mistake it was at one time. But eventually I got tired of all that. And you will too.

 

It's like when I'd pack up to go to the bigger kids' wAReZ ConFerenCEs I'd make a whole 1-hour ritual of packing the VCS and my Apple II. I had the cables marked with tape to indicate folding points. A couple of boxes with home-made cardboard dividers to put the paraphernalia in, and even a checklist to ensure I bought everything with, and back! Everything was numbered with a plastic tie-tie tag. That was an experience. It was fun. Today it is a chore. I'll stop here so that we may remain on-topic.

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I definitely see the appeal of the 7800 for jack-of-all trades. I have one of those systems as well, but it doesn't get pull out that often... hmm... why you fellas gotta make my life more complicated? haha

If you're modifying a system, maybe you could make it prettier. Also, if you can, put the power supply inside the case, and put the controller ports in front. That's what I would do if I had any skills in that domain.


Power supply in the case, eh? Not having a heavy sixer, I do sometimes wish the 4 switch consoles were heavier. Putting a transformer inside would certainly add some weight. Ideally there would be something placed on the opposite side to balance it out.

Most mods I do are typically internal or 100% external (i.e. I make my own AV cables) - I have done a bit of drilling here and there, but I rarely do case work. Although on the subject of case modding...

As far as modding goes, someone with decent soldering and woodworking skills could make a really nice actual wood system. Add a bit of brass and maybe some leather....
It wouldn't be hard to relocate the switches and controller ports. It's something that has crossed my mind, but I'd have to find the money to pick up a extra 2600 to mod. Maybe someday I'll get around to doing it. ;)


I really like the idea of going "all out" for a custom console - Not just a paint job or decals - the whole shebang. I think a front-loading, genuine wood box Atari would be a lot of fun. And while I understand how it is sometimes an easy cheat to grab an old wooden briefcase and use it as a starting point, 100% custom woodwork - taking into mind the electronics and creating a pleasing form factor - would be the way to go, imo.

< ...opens a new tab to search for wooden briefcases...>

I'm at the point where farting around with wires and clutter and piles of cartridges is no longer a desirable experience. Make no mistake it was at one time. But eventually I got tired of all that. And you will too.

Ha. Well, I suppose it depends a lot on the space in one's home, changing interests, family needs, etc. I try to shrink the collection in addition to grow it. There are definitely things that I find interesting and eventually either don't care about or wouldn't mind simply altering (like moving to a flash cart). I love collecting, but I don't like clutter.

 

As for your system - Yeah... I imagine I'll go after a heavy sixer one day. I've definitely seen the various Atari models in person thanks to experiencing AtariAge at the Houston Arcade Expo and Portland Retro Gaming Expo. The most recent PRGE has me wanting to rotate a Commodore 1701/1702 into my setup (speaking of off topic...)

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I've bounced back and forth on which one I thought looked the best and I'm not sure I have a clear favorite even now. I do like my Jr. because it's more portable.

 

As far as modding goes, someone with decent soldering and woodworking skills could make a really nice actual wood system. Add a bit of brass and maybe some leather....

It wouldn't be hard to relocate the switches and controller ports. It's something that has crossed my mind, but I'd have to find the money to pick up a extra 2600 to mod. Maybe someday I'll get around to doing it. ;)

Steampunk VCS! Bring it!!
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Motorized cartridge insertion. Two big rubber wheels, or grip pads to pull the cart inside the console itself. Not unlike the Hot Wheels Supercharger houses. Make the housing bigger than the cart formfactor so that it may fit an Arcadia Supercharger or XonoX Double-Ender.

 

OR. A mechanical clamp that grips the cart in position, while the connector itself moves into the cart. This way you don't worry about sizes and have less moving parts.

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Back on topic. I've never really thought about the appearance of a console. I am more concern about how it plays the games and how good the controllers are. As far as which console I prefer, I currently have almost everything from a Odyssey 2 to the Switch, and I've played a lot of Nintendo, Super Nintendo, N64, PS2, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, but I always find myself going back to the good ol' 2600. There's just something about it.

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Had my parents four switch woody from bitd but in 84 I got my own console, a Vader, that's always been mine and I've never really replaced it. The wood ones remind me of the 70's while the black one reminds me of the component stereos from the 80's. I've gotten a Jr, but the switches are just unreliable. Got two 7800's one with, and one without the expansion port, but I'm always back to my Vader.

 

If I ever mod, I'd likely get a different system. Mine still provides a crystal clear picture, and I love it. Besides, with zero experience in modding, I'm likely to fry the first system or three that I try, and from what I hear, Vader's aren't very mod friendly anyways.

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6 switch woody all day long. Was my first 2600 in '82. To my eternal shame I sold it 4 years or so later when home micros were at their peak. So when I got wise and got a replacement years later it had to be the 6 switch woody.

 

I do like the look of he vader though.

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When I first sought to get an Atari 2600 in the late '90s (I was an NES/16-bit kid but interested in the oldies), I tried to get a Vader, although I ended up with a woodgrain 4-switch instead since the kid only wanted $20 for it. At that point I'm not sure if I had a favorite; I vascillated between the Vader and the 2600jr, possibly because they were less dated-looking, but I certainly wasn't side-eyeing my woodgrain system, either--it was the Atari system, after all.

I think the only major NTSC 2600 console variations I'm missing now are a Sears Light Sixer, Columbia Home Arcade, and Atari 2800, but if I had to pick just one (perish the thought!), it would probably be the Atari Light Sixer.

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I don't have this but I would prefer one made out of the parts of others. Something like getting the bottom of a Heavy Sixer, placing a Vader top on it, have a 7800 inside, and have it wired up for six switches so that I could flip the color/bw switch back and forth for 7800 pause but still use it as a color/bw switch for 2600 games. Since it would have a Vader top and Heavy Sixer bottom I would call it "Lord Helmet".

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I find the 4 switch woodgrain to be the best looking Atari console and always have, with the vader being second. It's the one I currently own and I was able to find one in very good condition for a great price. It looked practically new aside from some specks of white paint on it, which I covered with black marker, rendering them invisible.

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