There's very little brought to the table with the 5200. HUGE hunk of a console with TROUBLESOME, EXPENSIVE controllers. That's the non-subjective part. Now the subjective part: (I said subjective, people; please "get it" that I did) TERRIBLE controllers! The non-centering stick lends itself POORLY to games like Pacman, which was a pack-in title, for crying out loud!
If the controllers didn't suck, then not only would it not have a huge (and clearly demonstrable) reputation as for such, but pages like this wouldn't exist......
Clearly such pages DO exist, and if you'll spend a little time, you'll see that......
Upgraded Best Electronics Atari CX52 Joystick with New Lifetime Gold Metal Dot Silicone Pads and Gold Flex Circuit $38 + Gold Surcharge (Out right buy, No Exchange / Core required)
We have a Flat rate shipping charge for US / Domestic shipped Atari CX52 reconditioned Joysticks. $11.15 Priority Mail plus $2.35 Insurance for 1 or 2 CX52 Joysticks.
I understand that you can rebuild your own with parts from the website (you can spend the time and add them up by looking at that very page) but the fact remains that not everybody is going to be willing/able to dive into something as complex (for a game controller, no less) as the 5200 controller. This is no 2600 or 8-bit joystick. Not everyone is going to want to box up "cores" and mail them in. The simple operation is just "get me some joysticks that aren't pieces of shit, that do work" and such is the price for a pair: $38 + $38 + $11.15 + $2.35 + "gold surcharge" (whatever that is). So that's $89.50 so far, and we don't know what the "gold surcharge" is. Somebody call and find out!!
So now, for nearly $100, we have 2 working controllers. We haven't even begun to purchase the system yet. There isn't a 5200 in the wild that has controllers that work anymore. I distinctly remember the Atari dealer in 1985 couldn't keep 5200 controllers and parts in stock. So you KNOW when you get a 5200, you're going to have to do SOMETHING to fix the controllers. That's the biggest problem with the system.
Now, we're almost to the $100 mark, and we haven't even purchased the system or any games. If you do get a system, you'll be stuck with RF output. If you were lucky (nobody's selling new ones right now) you could get a $45 (or more) composite/s-video mod.
Or get an Atari 8-bit computer, use cheap/ubiquitous 2600 joysticks, and plug in composite video. Plug in a peripheral emulator (SIO2SD, Sdrive, SIO2PC) and unlock an entire world of games that are one torrent mouse-click away, that aren't even possible on the 5200. I know people like the 5200 and and will justify it, but it would be fun to see what I have said disproved. I agree with the title of the thread, and have provided at least some justification.
edit: furthermore, check Fandal's site and see 5200 games that have been converted over to 400/800/XL/XE
edit again: and there's no fabulous A8 Donkey Kong on 5200 so that bags it for me already....
edit #3: Surcharge is $5/controller so for a pair, right at the $century mark Now price an A8 computer and 2600 joysticks.
Edited by wood_jl, Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:29 PM.