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Matt_40

Is it worth getting an atari 400 If I already have a 2600?

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I've had a vcs and Intellivision for a long time now, I have the opportunity to buy a 400 computer with a bunch of game cartridges pretty cheap, but I've heard most of the 400/800 games availible were just 2600 games with graphical upgrades. I can see there are a few titles I don't have for any system, just wanted to ask what people think about it.

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Do it. The 400/800 had not just upgraded graphics but Atari's next generation graphics and sound chips, the best in their day.

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Does it really have many different games though? It seems most were ports from the 2600 or 5200, It would be cool to at least be able to play some different ones.

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The 5200 was basically a game console version of the 400/800. But the 400/800 have more RAM and ROM plus BASIC and disk drives, so they have many more games than the 5200. Look it up.

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The 400 is a worthy little computer to get in my opinion. Most out there seem to have the base 16K of RAM, which is enough to do plenty of gaming with the cartridges. I've only run across a few that won't play on the original 400 and 800 computers and most of those came late in the Atari 8bit's life. It does have that touch pad keyboard, but I doubt any of us are going to try and write the 'Great American Novel' on a 400!

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Yeah, the Atari 400 is always a good buy - especially when you get it at a good price. Just spend the extra $10 for a cart of Star Raiders (or Pacman?) - and you'll see why it should have been more popular in it's day.

This computer did beat all of it's competition back in it's time - and if you compared them now - see that it was light years ahead of them - the Vic-20, ZX-80, ZX-81 etc.

 

Harvey

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I've heard most of the 400/800 games availible were just 2600 games with graphical upgrades.

 

Correction: Most 2600 games are just 400/800 games with graphical downgrades.

 

Actually that's not entirely true either, but it is less spectacularly wrong than what you just said.

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Keep in mind that you not only got programs on cart for the 400 but tape and disk. Of course, you're probably not going to use those other devices these days but instead get a more modern storage solution. Your only limitation is RAM and, from a certain perspective, that keyboard.

In the end you'll own a piece of history and, assuming this is your first Atari 8-bit, expand your world into a new retro community.

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My first Atari computer (aside from the VCS) was a 400. It was so good that I immediately wanted more memory and a better keyboard. The 800 was perfect in that respect. And it was 100% compatible with the 400, so I was off to a good start.

 

Upgrading the 400 to 48k memory should be real easy. But upgrading the keyboard? Easy but horrible aesthetics. Much of the look and charm of the 400 is based around the membrane keyboard, swapping it destroys all that!

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The only games really that were so-called upgrades of 2600 ones were the early Activision titles like Kaboom and Keystone Kapers, a few Imagic ones and little else.

 

So sad that the misinformation and bullshit of the 1980s continues today...

Edited by Rybags
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Get the 400, just for the game carts, if there are at least several.

Then, maybe upgrade to a 800XL or 130XE. If the 400 has 16k, it would

be OK too. Some games might require 48k.

I believe the 400/800/8bit Atari games are far superior to the 2600 ones.

Read the newbie forum at the top of this site.

Edited by russg

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I have had multiple 2600s, 5200s, and 7800s for years...I got my first 400 last weekend...I have enjoyed it immensely..I would say do it...it's fun just learning how it works

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I had the 800 and 800xl long before I finally got a working 400, but I have had a good amount of fun with mine. The 400 and 800 Atari computers are my go to units when I get into the 8-bit Atari mood. I actually had my two 400's given to me years back by my neighbor after they were salvaged from a soon to be demolished home downtown. One only comes up a black screen, but the other has worked since I re-seated the power supply board which had come loose. There is no other early computer out there that looks like the 400 and I just love that touch pad keyboard. Yes, it's not for big typing, but it also helps give the unit its unique look and charm. Just make sure the one you are looking at works if you can test it before buying.

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The 2600 vs. the 400 is a bit "apples and oranges". The 2600 is a much simpler, less expandable machine. The graphics and sound are quite a bit simpler. The 400 is an 8-Bit computer. The video and audio are quite a bit better. You can upgrade the RAM and add a disk drive to it, which means you can also add an SIO device to play games from an SD or from a slave process on your computer. The only advantage I can imagine the 2600 has over the 400 is that game cartridges are quite a bit easier to find and less expensive.

 

The real question is, what do you want to do with the system immediately: play simple games on cartridge, cheaply and easily (2600) or play better games from disk or disk emulator, with a little more work to setup and a few more dollars (400)?

Edited by pixelmischief

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I'd grab it. I've been after a working 400 or 800 for years. I have the 800XL and XEGS but I love the look of the originals, the 800 in particular. As Keatah said, much better keyboard. Anyway if someone offered me a working 400 for a good price I'd be all over it.

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Thanks for the replies, I wound up going for it. I have a bunch of old video game stuff I used to get cheap a long time ago, getting back into playing them. I have a bunch of cassettes and cartridges for random systems, have a bunch for the 400/800. Got a 400 for like $40 with a couple cartridges, gotta find a tape drive now working.

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Thanks for the replies, I wound up going for it. I have a bunch of old video game stuff I used to get cheap a long time ago, getting back into playing them. I have a bunch of cassettes and cartridges for random systems, have a bunch for the 400/800. Got a 400 for like $40 with a couple cartridges, gotta find a tape drive now working.

 

Congratulations! It's awesome. Strongly recommend you get a SIO2PC USB or similar device for it. Loading from a tape drive is tedious but I admire you for sticking with it if you do. =)

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I would offer that, if you don't already know the difference between a 400 and a 2600 ... don't bother. Nostalgia factor lost.

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Do it... The graphical & gameplay difference between 400 and 2600 games alone are much greater than between last-gen & current-gen consoles.

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The tape drives were a pain and will need to have the rubber belts replaced if you want to use them. With the base 16k RAM you'll be able to play most of the cart based games. You can also pickup one of the SD or flash based multi-carts which will open up a large library of games for you to check out. If you upgrade your RAM then you'll be able to play many of the file based games which can be loaded off the same multi-carts or using SIO devices which are designed for loading files directly from a PC or from SD cards.

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I forgot to say that you should stick a BASIC cart in the machine and check the amount of free memory. I bought a 400 off ebay that was supposed to be 16k but it had a 48k upgrade in it. :)

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