Memorex \ Tandy VIS
Type Console Developer Tandy \ Memorex
Release Date 1992-Dec Region(s) North America
Initial Price $699 USD Games Released Approximately 70
DW FACTS
     by Dark Watcher
In 1992 another multimedia gaming machine arrived silently on the market.  The Tandy Video Information System (VIS).  The VIS supported CD-ROM based educational video game software and audio compact discs and offered an optional modem for connection to online services.  Tandy sold the device with the tagline "MANY OF THE BENEFITS OF MULTIMEDIA WITHOUT HAVING TO PURCHASE A COMPUTER".
 
The system was packaged with Compton's Multimedia Encyclopedia and Webster's Intermediate Dictionary.  The VIS resembled a traditional VCR and used a wireless control pad to interface with both software and music CDs.
 
The VIS was driven by a product known as "Modular Windows".  In case you're not familiar with this, Modular Windows was basically the operating system forerunner to Windows CE (the system used in the Dreamcast).  Since the kernel is based on a stripped down Windows 3.1, it was rumored to possibly run some programs on the VIS and visa versa.  This, however, has not been verified.
Memorex VIS
The unit was sold only in Radio Shack stores.  It retailed for $699 USD with discs around $30 to $80.  Unfortunately, gamers were not interested in a device that played educational entertainment software.  The software could be played on a Windows driven computer. The price was also a bit much.  The VIS was later sold as a catalogue only item called the Memorex MD 2500 Video Information System. The price went down to $399.

Needless to say the VIS was a mere blip on the videogame radar.  The product was a huge loss for Tandy.  Reviewers played on the VIS name calling it "Virtually Impossible to Sell".

 


 

HANDS ON REVIEW
     by Marriott_Guy
In the early 1990s, the rage in video game hardware development was all about being an all-in-one device.  The following lists the prominent companies that took a swing at providing the buying public with the 'one' product that would satisfy all\most of their multimedia needs:

o 1991 - Philips CD-i (video games, audio CDs, edutainment CDs, movies)
o 1991 - Commodore CDTV (video games, audio CDs, edutainment CDs, movies)
o 1993 - Panasonic 3DO (video games, audio CDs, edutainment CDs)
o 1993 - Pioneer LaserActive (video games, audio CDs, edutainment CDs, movies)

As you can see, the above lists some pretty big hitters in the electronics industry.  In 1992, Memorex, owned at the time by Tandy Corporation (owner of RadioShack stores), released yet another 'wonder' machine into the fray with the release of the VIS (Visual Information System).  This obscure system left a very small imprint on the sands of video console history due to a few reasons.
Memorex VIS
The VIS was essentially a stripped down Windows PC in a VCR style casing.  A 16-bit Intel 80286 processor running at 12.5 MHz powered the system that produced games in 16.7M colors at a resolution of 640x480.  A customized version of Windows 3.1 (Modular Windows) is the backbone of the system and audio\video performance.  At the time, this was quite antiquated in terms of overall technical horsepower.  The chassis itself does not even merit further dialog, as the picture of this system obviously displays.  Wireless controllers were a nice touch and did differentiate it from its competitors, but the button alignment and offerings mirrors the chassis - nothing to write home about.  The media choice was sound as all VIS titles were released on CD-ROM (Audio CD was also supported).  So what about those titles?

Almost ALL VIS titles can be categorized into the edutainment genre with about 50% of those targeted directly to children in the age range 8-15.  Compton's Encyclopedia was included with the initial purchase of the VIS, but no true games were.  There were a great deal of rumors out there of PC ports for this system that never went into production (King's Quest V, Space Quest IV, et al).  The only true game that I can attest to being in existence, apart from the educational point-and-click safaris, is a release from Access Software called Links: The Challenge of Golf.  Some of you may remember this popular 386 PC classic (which the Links franchise and company was later bought out by Microsoft).  The graphics for the VIS are slightly less than their 386 counterpart, though navigation is a bit easier.  All told around 70 titles or so were released for this system.
Two versions of the VIS were released.  The Tandy version retailed for $699 and was only sold in RadioShack retail outlets (actually hit store shelves in December 1992).  The Memorex model was only available as an exclusive catalogue-direct sale from the parent company, but retailed for $399 (no changes at all in the hardware or included software).  The re-branding of the VIS to the more popular Memorex label and lowering the price did nothing to save this console from its demise.  To be honest, this system could have retailed for $39.95 and still would not have been a good value for the consumer - this console is truly that bad.  Tandy's foray into the video game console market was extremely short-lived and ended up being an extremely costly venture for them.  They do not even acknowledge the existence of the VIS in their company's historical timeline.

The Memorex VIS is only recommended for the true console collector - not at all for the gamer of any level.  With only around 11,000 units sold, the system is rather hard to come by.  Expect to pay a fair amount to acquire one of these units.  Since the VIS is sometimes mistaken for a standard CD player, you might be able to grab it for $20 from someone who doesn't know what they truly have.
 
MODELS
     Officially licensed releases
Memorex MD 2500 Visual Information System (VIS)
Memorex VIS Memorex VIS Memorex VIS
Memorex VIS Memorex VIS Memorex VIS
Memorex VIS Memorex VIS Memorex VIS Games
Memorex VIS Memorex VIS Memorex VIS

Tandy Visual Information System (VIS)
The Tandy branded version of the VIS is identical to its Memorex counterpart in every facet with the exception of the manufacturer label on the back of the system and the small name plate on the front. Tandy VIS
 
CLONES
     Non-licensed hardware releases
No clones were released for this system.
 
CONSOLE RATINGS
     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent.
Memorex VIS Games
Memorex VIS
CRITERIA RATING NOTES & COMMENTS
Console Design 04 As with most of the all-in-one devices for the era, the design is purely functional in nature.  The front controls, hidden behind a recessed panel, are easy to use albeit very small.  This console was built to fit inside a standard AV rack.
Console Durability 08 The VIS is a very sturdy machines.  The steel casing provides ample protection.  The front loading CD tray feels a little fragile, but then again most of them did during this era.
Controllers 03 It seems the developer opted for a symmetrical look rather than creating an input device that is enjoyable to use.  Though there is plenty of room, the buttons are jammed together for some unknown reason.  The fact that it is wireless bumps this rating up one notch.
Graphics 05 This is difficult to grade since very few titles truly took advantage of the system's technical capabilities.  FMV sequences, though fluidly delivered, appear grainy and slightly out of focus.
Audio 06 CD quality audio effects are nice, but most seemed to be muted a bit.  I had to adjust my sound levels quite a bit to hit the 'sweet spot'.
Media 07 Hard to go wrong with the standard CD-ROM.  The VIS also supported Audio CD (CD_DA).  Drive access time seems to be slower than most on the VIS.
Gamer Value 01 With a library primarily saturated with  edutainment offerings, the VIS offers very little for the casual gamer.
Collector Value 07 Yes, this system is a bit of a dog but it is a nice addition to one's console collection.  Software is dirt cheap, but the system itself can sometimes be difficult to acquire due to its limited run.

FORMAT, PACKAGING & GENERAL INFO
     Interesting facts on software for this system
Software for the Memorex VIS was distributed in the CD-ROM format.  The titles are packaged in an extremely tall cardboard box, very similar to the cheap version utilized in some releases for the 3DO.

Though the games are basically programmed with a Windows 3.1 structure, I was not able to run any VIS games on a IBM 386 SX running this operating system.  Likewise, titles designed specifically for Windows would not boot on the Memorex VIS.

From a gamer perspective, Links: The Challenge of Golf is definitely the most desirable title in the VIS library.  This PC port truly shows off the graphical capability of the VIS without drowning you in needless FMV sequences.

VIS System Boot Sequence
Memorex VIS game boxes
 
SCREENSHOTS
     Captured in-game images
America's National Parks
VIS America's National Parks screenshot
Atlas of United States Presidents
VIS Atlas of United States Presidents screenshot
Better Not Get Wet, Jessie Bear
VIS Better Not Get Wet, Jessie Bear screenshot
Bible Lands, Bible Stories
VIS Bible Lands, Bible Stories screenshot
December 24th
VIS December 24th screenshot
Henry and Mudge: Their First Book
VIS Henry and Mudge: Their First Book screenshot
Henry and Mudge: In the Sparkle Days
VIS Henry and Mudge: In the Sparkle Days screenshot
Jessie Bear, What Will You Wear?
VIS Jessie Bear, What Will You Wear? screenshot
Learn to Play Guitar - Volume 1
VIS Learn to Play Guitar - Volume 1 screenshot
Links: The Challenge of Golf
VIS Links: The Challenge of Golf screenshot
Manhole
VIS Manhole screenshot
Meeting of the Minds
VIS Meeting of the Minds screenshot
Mutanoid Word Challenge
VIS Mutanoid Word Challenge screenshot
New Basics Electronic Cookbook
VIS New Basics Electronic Cookbook screenshot
Peter and the Wolf
VIS Peter and the Wolf screenshot
Playing with Language: Games in French
VIS Playing with Language: Games in French screenshot
Race the Clock
VIS Race the Clock screenshot
Rodney's Funscreen
VIS Rodney's Funscreen screenshot
Sampler CD
VIS Sampler CD screenshot
Search for the Sea
VIS Search for the Sea screenshot
Secrets of Hosea Freeman
VIS Secrets of Hosea Freeman screenshot
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective - Volume 1
VIS Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective - Volume 1 screenshot
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective - Volume 2
VIS Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective - Volume 2 screenshot
Survey of Western Art
VIS Survey of Western Art screenshot
Tell-Tale Heart
VIS Tell-Tale Heart screenshot
Time Table of History: Arts & Entertainment
VIS Time Table of History: Arts & Entertainment screenshot
Time Table of History: Business, Politics & Media
VIS Time Table of History: Business, Politics & Media screenshot
Time Table of History: Science & Innovation
VIS Time Table of History: Science & Innovation screenshot
Victor Vector Yondo
VIS Victor Vector Yondo screenshot
Video Movie Guide 1993
VIS Video Movie Guide 1993 screenshot
Vision Multimedia Bible
VIS Vision Multimedia Bible screenshot
Wild Animals!
VIS Wild Animals! screenshot
World Vista
VIS World Vista screenshot
Courtesy of our good friends at Digital Press
 
EMULATION
     First and third party system emulators
No emulators have been released for this system.
 
SPECS & MANUALS
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
16-bit Intel 80286 12.5 MHz 80287 Co-processor 512 KB
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
640 x 480 16.7M Colors Unknown Full Stereo (16 MHz)
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
CD-ROM 700 MB Approx. 70 Audio CD, CD+G
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
None Memory Card Wireless game pad None
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
1-4 (wireless) None Microphone Jack, Headphone Jack RF, Composite, S-Video
Power Supply - Internal Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
AC 110V, 60Hz None Auxiliary In port (Mouse\Keyboard), Channel Selector, Antenna\Cable In\Out port, Front Expansion Bay (memory card)
Manuals
Not available.  Can you help us out?  You will definitely receive full credit for your contribution.  Email MG@videogameconsolelibrary.com.

OTHER MEDIA
     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Memorex VIS Promotional Video

 
DISCUSS
     Visitor insights and feedback
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