CES 2019 has seen its fair share of cheap yet powerful graphics cards, laptops capable of taking down desktop PCs, and smartphones. Lots and lots of smartphones. But the thing that caught my eye and heart is a high-tech throwback – the Atari Pong Coffee Table.
The Pong Table started as a Kickstarter campaign back in 2017. It needed to raise $250,000. It beat the target and then some, managing to raise $335,422. 322 backers funded this project. The Kickstarter page suggested the table would go on sale for $1690 and users who donated $900 or more would get an early bird discount of $790.
The coffee table has a great retro feel – and why wouldn’t it? Pong was released by Atari way back in 1972, so it is an ultimate classic.
While some might feel that the coffee table is out of place at a trade show where the latest tech is showcased, old-school folk like me felt right at home. The Pong Table booth was one of the most frequently visited booths at CES 2019.
Visitors got a first glimpse back at CES 2018, where it debuted to rave reviews. Since then, the team has updated the table and added a coin-operated mechanism to capture the true nostalgic feeling of a gaming arcade. This trick seemed to work as the table has become even more popular.
The rectangular paddles of the original game remain as does the square “ball” which bounces between you and your friend. If you have no friends, like me, you can play against an AI with three difficulty levels. I’m guessing beginner, intermediate, and hard would be the difficulty levels.
Calinfer S.A. (the group behind the Pong Table) cut a deal back in October 2017 with UNIS to produce, market, and sell the table around the world. UNIS’ main interest is to make the product a huge commercial success in the US.
The table employs electric motors and magnetic fields to add a mechanical element to the digital game. These components are the engine running the game. The table works on the simple concept of magnets moving a metallic object on top of a wooden surface.
It also comes with a Bluetooth speaker so users can add a custom soundtrack while playing the game. The table even has 4 USB ports to charge phones while you and your friends are busy wrecking each other.
Users can even close the control panels to turn the Pong Table into a traditional coffee table, albeit with a dash of retro mixed in.
The basic model will cost users $2999 (a bit more than Kickstarter originally proposed), while the larger coin-operated version’s prices have yet to be announced.
This should be a great addition to anyone’s “(wo)man cave,” where you and your friends can have a few beers, relive the glory days, and reminisce about the times when life was much simpler (and it didn’t cost $3000 to play Pong). This will be a great addition to the Pacman arcade machine gathering dust in the corner of your basement.
Just don’t forget to clean up afterward, once you spill your beer on this “table.”
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