Setting up your VCS
The Atari VCS is a connected device. An Internet connection is required to create your account, download updates, make purchases, and access streaming services.
DAY ONE UPDATE
The first time you use your Atari VCS, it will automatically download an update to the operating system and an update to the BIOS. The typical download time is between four and eight minutes, but it can take as long as 20 minutes depending upon the speed of your internet connection.
It is important that you do not unplug or power cycle the VCS during the system update. Doing so can corrupt the system.
If, after 30 minutes the update is not finished it may have failed. If this occurs, please contact customer support.
CREATING AN ACCOUNT
The first time you use your Atari VCS you will be asked to create an account. Please do not bypass the onboarding process by pressing skip. You will be asked to create a user name, a six-digit pin, and to enter and verify your email address.
POWER SUPPLY AND CABLES
The power supply is dual currency and will work in any location. Your VCS has shipped with a cable for the Australian market. To use your VCS in another country, you can use a standard travel adapter or purchase a power cable with a Mickey Mouse, or cloverleaf connector.
Using your VCS in Atari Mode
PURCHASING GAMES AND APPS IN THE ATARI VCS STORE
Purchasing Atari VCS Store Content with a Credit or Debit Card
We have tested cards from the following payment networks. Cards from other payment networks may or may not work. Additional payment options will be added in the future. If you have a card that does not work, please please visit https://atarivcs.com/support
and contact our customer service team. At this time we do not accept gift cards.
Diners Club (14 digit)
Purchasing Atari VCS Store content in other Markets
We have tested store transactions from the countries listed in the table below. If your country does not appear on our list, that does not mean we do not support transactions originating from your location, it only means we have not tested them yet. If you have trouble using a credit or debit card from your location, please visit https://atarivcs.com/support
and contact our customer service team.
At this time we do not support 3D Secure cards. These cards are primarily used within the European Union. While some 3D secure cards may allow you to make purchases at our store without two-factor authentication, some may not.
Purchasing Atari VCS Store content in Australia
The Atari VCS store shows pricing in Australian Dollars, but your transaction may occur in U.S. dollars. This is temporary. The shopping cart will change to Australian dollars in the coming weeks. In addition, checkout will only accept a 5-digit postal code. This will be updated in the coming weeks as well. For now, enter any 5-digits into the zip code/postal code field and the transaction will go through.
ATARI VCS COMPANION APP
The VCS Companion app was created to make browsing within streaming services and within Chrome easier. The Companion App replicates a mouse and keyboard on your phone or tablet, making it easy to scroll vertically, select items with more accuracy, and enter text into search and login fields.
Please note, you must use the companion app or a keyboard and mouse to navigate within the Chrome browser or in streaming services. We are evaluating adding Chrome support for controllers in a future update.
Where to find the Atari VCS Companion App
The companion app can be found in the Apple App Store
and on Google Play
. The app is free, simply search for the app by name and install it on your mobile device. You can also use the QR code below. Simply open the camera on your mobile device and point the camera at this QR code until it is in focus. Click the link that appears and it will take you directly to the appropriate page to download the app.
Logging into the Companion App
It is important that you enter the same email address and PIN in the Companion App that you used to create your Atari VCS profile. You will only be able to use the Companion App if your login information matches exactly. While using the Companion App, you will not be able to connect to a VCS if there is another user currently logged into it.
Connecting the Companion App to your VCS
In order to use the Companion app you must connect your mobile device to your Wi-Fi network. Your mobile device and your Atari VCS must also be on the same network. If they are not on the same network, your mobile device will be unable to see your VCS. You can connect your VCS to your network using ethernet, just make sure that the VCS is connected to the same network as your Wi-Fi router.
Using browser-based apps and streaming services.
When using a streaming service you are essentially accessing the web version of the service using a Chrome browser. At this time, you can only use these services using the VCS Companion App or a keyboard and mouse. We may add controller support in a future date.
Some streaming services will let you access free content without an account. Others will require that you log into your account, or create a new account. The first time you use the companion app to log in, you will get a pop-up asking you if you want to sync your passwords so that the browser remembers your login credentials. To do this, login into or create a Google account and your passwords will be saved.
Synching passwords in Chrome is recommended as it removes the requirement to enter your password when you launch a streaming service. Login credentials are tied to each user account on the VCS.
SAVING LOGIN CREDENTIALS
As of the Atari VCS ship date, Chrome login credentials are not linked to individual user accounts. The last Chrome account that was logged into will be accessible to anyone subsequently logging into the VCS. For example, if Dad logs into Chrome and then logs off the VCS, anyone else in the family who logs into their VCS account can open Gmail and read Dad’s emails. The same is true for login credentials to streaming services and other browser-based apps. We have already changed this, so that Chrome logins are linked to specific VCS user accounts, but we had not been able to test the change prior to shipping. We expect the next system update, anticipated in mid-December, to address this.
Modern Controller User Manual
Classic Joystick User Manual
Number of Supported Controllers
The VCS Dashboard currently supports a maximum of 4 controllers (either via Bluetooth or USB). You can use any combination of Bluetooth and wired connections, but only (4) four will be active at any time. The underlying hardware can support more than 4 controllers and we are evaluating increasing the active limit in the future.
Updating Controller Software
You may periodically be prompted to update the software for your controllers. To see if your controllers are up to date, navigate to the Devices page under System, and select Update Controllers from the menu on the left. Each controller will either have a status of Up to date or Update now. If a controller says Update now, simply click on it and follow the instructions on the screen.
The Atari VCS has settings for 1080p video (FHD) and 4K video (UHD). If, upon setting your device to 4K, you get a black screen, the VCS may be incompatible in 4K with your monitor or television. If this happens, you will need to perform a safe boot to return your VCS to 1080p.
Restart the VCS in “safe mode” by holding the Menu and the “B” button on your Atari controller and restarting the VCS by hitting the power button. The system then boots disabling 4K/UHD resolution and skips automated system updates.
Using your VCS in PC Mode
INSTALLING AN OPERATING SYSTEM
One of the more anticipated features of the Atari VCS is PC Mode, which allows you to install an operating system onto an external drive and boot your VCS as a PC. Our goal is to make the Atari VCS as open and flexible as possible, while maintaining the best possible user experience across both PC Mode and Atari Mode.
Please note, at this time we only support signed operating systems, so many custom versions of Linux will not be compatible.
We have prepared a number of how-to documents and videos that walk you through installing a second operating system. Those can be accessed at shop.atarivcs.com/support.
- Installing an OS on an Internal vs External Hard Drive -- the boot order for the Atari VCS is:
1) external USB drive
2) Atari native OS
3) internal M.2 SSD drive
If you install an OS on an external drive, you simply connect the drive to a USB port and power on in order to boot to it. In order to boot to the native Atari OS, just disconnect the drive.
If you install an OS on an internal SSD you will need to hold down the ESC key on your keyboard to access the UEFI menu, and then select the SSD from the list of drives under Boot Manager.
Notes on Installing Windows
- You need to use a 64-bit version of Windows with the Atari VCS. We have tested Windows 10 Home Edition, but you should have no problem using other versions as long as they meet the 64-bit requirement.
- Selecting external hard drives -- Windows is a large and complex OS that is prone to frequent, and fairly large updates. For optimal performance we recommend that you use an external SSD drive that leaves a minimum of 32GB for Windows. Our minimum recommended SSD size is 64GB, leaving half the storage space for WIndows and the other half for files and apps. If you plan on using PC Mode for additional PC Game libraries, you will want significantly more storage than that.
- Installation time -- installing windows takes a long time. Between downloading the files, writing the installation, and then going through the multiple updates Windows will execute, expect to spend several hours watching the progress bar depending upon the speed of your external drive.
- We do not have instructions for installing Windows to an internal M.2 drive, but plan on making them available at a future date.
Notes on Linux
- External Hard Drive(s) -- Linux can run from a traditional USB flash drive. We have tested both Unbuntu and Debian from flash drives. You can get by with a 32GB drive, but we recommend a minimum of 64GB so you have room to add applications and files. For optimal performance we recommend that you use an external SSD drive instead of a flash drive. Installation will be a bit quicker, boot time will be faster, and performance will be better.
- Installation time -- while Linux will install much more quickly than Windows, expect to spend at least an hour creating an external Linux boot drive, especially if you have never done it before.
- Signed OS only -- PC Mode currently will only work with signed versions of operating systems. This means that some versions of Linux will be blocked from operating and you will receive a security message.
- Atari has made guides available for creating Boot Drives for Ubuntu and Debian. Both have been tested and work well.
- We do not have instructions for installing Linux to an internal M.2 drive, but plan on making them available at a future date.
Upgrading your VCS
M2 SSD Installation Guide
M2 SSD Installation Guide (Video)
INSTALLING AN M.2 SSD DRIVE
The Atari VCS has an open M.2 slot on the motherboard, which allows you to add an M.2 SSD for additional storage.
M.2 compatibility -- The Atari VCS is compatible with M.2 SATA SSD drives. The SATA format has both a B and an M key -- the two notches at the bottom in the picture below. The NVMe format, which is incompatible with the Atari VCS, has only one notch. There is no known restriction on storage capacity.
- Time and effort -- Installing an M.2 SSD in your Atari VCS is not an overly difficult task, but does require some care to ensure you do not damage your VCS during the installation process.
- Note: most M.2 SSD drives will ship without a screw to secure it to the motherboard board. Our factory suggests that a 304 Pan Head Screw M3X4 is the correct size screw to hold the M.2 SSD in place.
- A step-by-step installation guide is available, as is a video walk through.
RAM Installation Guide
The Atari VCS comes with two 4GB SODIMM RAM modules for a total of 8GB of RAM. The RAM can be upgraded to a maximum of 32GB.
RAM compatibility -- The Atari VCS is compatible with DDR4-2400 SODIMM RAM. You must add RAM in pairs, so to achieve the maximum capacity of 32GB you would add two 16GB modules. Please note, SODIMM RAM is a different format that RAM used in desktop computers. Desktop memory will not fit in the Atari VCS.
- Time and effort -- Installing RAM in your Atari VCS requires care to ensure you do not damage your VCS during the installation process. Installing the RAM itself is easy, but accessing it is much more difficult as the RAM is located on the bottom of the motherboard. To reach it you will need to remove the heat shield and unscrew the motherboard from the chassis. Both written and video installation guides are available to guide you through the process. You may find this task to be challenging if you do not have experience assembling or upgrading computers.
Experiencing a problem with your Atari VCS? Feel free to contact us
with your enquiry! Alternatively, you can click here
to head to the official Atari VCS Customer Support page!