First off... mad props to this website. Been following Ben since I was 10ish and he was on ClassicGaming, but first time posting on these forums. People here always seem real knowledgeable and willing to help, so I figured this would be the best place to ask what I'm about to ask.
I was thinking up Christmas gifts for my parents, and I recently got a raise at my job so I thought I'd get something that doesn't
scream "last minute" for them this year
. I was considering what to get for the old man and my mind wandered to old arcade games... he apparently frequented Joust, Galaga, Pong, etc. way back in the day, but these days doesn't really play video games a la the 360 and so forth. I thought that getting an old cabinet would be really awesome until I saw the prices for them on Craigslist and eBay, not to mention the lack of multi game functionality and the space in the house they take up.
SO I thought about getting a TV-based solution instead. This would certainly be more cost-effective and flexible. I thought about one of those Flashback joystick things, but the game selection on those isn't exactly what I'm looking for, not to mention it's only single-player and you are limited to whatever is inbuilt (I'm not about to build a custom enclosure and solder a bunch of wires for a cartridge slot only to have it break, sorry). MAME crossed my mind too, but it's altogether just a pain in the ass for someone working full-time to have to muck around with ROM sets, control schemes, and so forth, not to mention the fact that joysticks are probably pretty expensive for it.
Naturally the next thing I considered was an old Atari console, specifically the 7800. From what I cursorily remember the 7800 had all the best arcade ports, and Google tells me that it has joystick controllers. The only thing that concerns me is the faithfulness of these ports and whether you can hook 2600-style joysticks and paddles up to it, both of which are not readily answerable via Dr. Google (or at least so far as I can tell).
So my question to you, forumites, is this... in terms of simplicity, game selection, arcade-style controls, and faithfulness to the originals, is the 7800 the best choice for the early-1980s arcade experience at home?
Thanks for any help you guys have, and you rock!