Air hockey tables are fabulous pieces of kit. They work well in a variety of different situations. For example, an air hockey table is going to provide a wonderful playing experience in the comfort of your own home. Who wouldn’t love to have a quick game or two when you want to relax?
Other people may want to place an air hockey table in a bar they own. You will be surprised at just how many punters will want to play them!
One of the wonderful things about air hockey tables is the fact that they cater to just about everybody. This fast-paced game is going to be enjoyable no matter who you are. Of course, to enjoy this game, you will need to get your hands on a decent air hockey table.
There are, quite literally, thousands of them to choose from. Some of them are brilliant; most leave a lot to be desired. On this page, we are going to take a little look at how you can go about purchasing the perfect air hockey table. Start by checking out our infographic for a summary of the most important tips and then continue reading our extensive guide.
Types of Air Hockey Tables
If you haven’t put that much research into air hockey tables, you may be surprised to know that there are a few different types to choose from. Sure, all of them are going to ‘play’ in very much the same way, but each has its pros and cons, which may make it more suitable for your needs.
In this section, we are going to briefly run through the types of air hockey tables you will have to choose from.
Arcade-Style Air Hockey Tables
If you have a lot of cash to spend on a table, then this is the route you will most likely go down. These are the tables used by professionals. Arcade-style air hockey tables are robustly built.
You aren’t going to be breaking one of these any time soon. In addition to this, they are regulation size. If you purchase one of these tables, you will be playing on the same size table used by the pros.
You also tend to get some decent features with arcade tables. Electronic scoring is the norm, and you have far more powerful motors, a smoother playing surface, and a few additions like music and sound effects (in some cases). Honestly, these are going to provide you with the ultimate playing experience.
Basic Air Hockey Tables
These are just simple tables. They tend not to have the features the arcade tables boast. However, it is worth doing your research into the various basic air hockey tables on the market to see which ones have the features you need.
For example, the vast majority of them are not going to have a digital scoreboard or something like that. These slot machines are best reserved for those players who want a fun playing experience but are not too keen on spending that much money.
Tabletop Air Hockey Tables
These are, just as the name sounds, stuck on a tabletop. They are cheap tables that serve a specific purpose:, to provide a portable table for those situations where you may not have space in your home for a full-size air hockey table.
One of the brilliant things about this type of table is that you can customize them. This means that you can put it on a table of any height (providing it is the right size for the tabletop hockey table), which makes it perfect for those younger children who may not be able to play on a full-size table.
Multi-Game Air Hockey Tables
Finally, you can purchase multi-game air hockey tables. These aren’t strictly air hockey tables and may incorporate a number of different games into them. Table tennis and foosball seem to be the big ones here.
There are a few on the market, although you should not expect the quality that the larger tables boast because they simply are not built for just air hockey. They need to meet several different specifications. Basically, they are a jack of all trades and a master of none.
Who is the table for?
When you are looking to buy an air hockey table, it is worth considering who the table is for. This will give you an indication as to the type of features you want to be on the lookout for and the amount of money you will need to spend. We are going to split this section into three categories. You could probably break it down even further, but we feel like this is a good starting point:
Beginner table: if you are new to the world of air hockey, you probably are not going to need anything extravagant. You could probably get away with a cheaper table, particularly if it is a child playing, but bear in mind that if you do develop a love for the game, you will need to upgrade sooner as opposed to later. Cheaper tables are not durable and they will not be able to put up with use over a prolonged period.
Intermediate tables: If you have developed a passion for air hockey but are yet to hit the big leagues, or perhaps you just do not have the space in your home, you may want to opt for an intermediate table. They tend to have more features than your standard beginner table, although not quite in the realms of the more advanced products on the market. They tend to be well-built, and if you can treat them well, you are probably going to be using them for years. If you are not planning to enter air hockey competitions, and most people are not, you may be able to get away with a solid, smaller table here. Do make sure you shop around so you are getting something that offers a good value for the money.
Advanced players: These people will need a full-size table. Try to go down the route of an arcade-style table, as they are well-built. Obviously, these tables are going to be at the upper echelons of price, but if you treat the table well, then it is feasible that it could last you forever. It may need a few repairs from time to time, but these tables are unlikely to dent or scratch, which is a common problem with some of the cheaper tables on the market.
What should you look for when buying an air hockey table?
There are four things you should be on the lookout for when you are purchasing a quality air hockey table. If you browse through the reviews on this website, you will see that we have gone into depth on many of these elements. In this section, we just want to give you a brief overview on what you should be looking for:
This is an important decision to make. Two things will influence table size:
- The room you are putting the table in
- The type of air hockey you are looking to play
If you have a smaller room, you are going to need to go with smaller tables. However, bear in mind that even the smallest air hockey table could take up a reasonable amount of space in your home. If you are looking to play air hockey on a competitive level, you will need a full-size table. It can be tough to practice on something smaller.
These are, of course, going to require much more space. At the bare minimum, you are looking at 90 inches long and 50 inches wide. You will need a sizeable amount of space around the hockey table to move about, too.
The larger the table, the more you are going to be spending on it. That being said, there are some smaller tables packed to the brim with features (digital scoreboards, etc.), which can be more expensive than their larger counterparts. You will need to put in research here to ensure that what you purchase is of a high quality.
Construction of the table
If you can afford it, purchase a table made of solid wood. You won’t be budging those in a hurry. The problem with cheaper quality tables is that they move about everywhere. Anybody who has ever played air hockey will know that the sport can be intense at times. This can lead to people leaning on the table, and lightweight tables tend to slide about easily, which can ruin the game.
If you purchase a cheap table, particularly one of a plywood construction, you may run into issues with the legs just breaking on you. It happens far more often than you may think!
Quality air hockey tables will have levellers on the base of each of their legs. This is important because the room you are placing the table in may not be 100% level, making the quality of the playing experience low.
To cap it off, plywood tables (i.e. cheaply constructed tables) tend to have an uneven playing surface, which can hamper the amount of fun you are able to have.
This is something very few people pay attention to, but you will be surprised at the impact that rink walls will have on the play. Rink walls should ideally be made of nylon (on cheaper tables) or aluminum.
They provide great rebound qualities that can lead to fast and intense play. Try to ensure that the aluminum used is solid aluminum. Cheaper tables use laminate, which can dent when you play.
The more powerful, the better. A powerful motor will ensure there is even airflow on the playing surface. In addition, it tends to be a bit quieter. Good quality motors will not overheat and will ensure you can play for prolonged periods. If you can, opt for a table that boasts a motor with a Plenum Chamber. They tend to offer smoother gameplay.
New vs. Used Air Hockey Tables
If you can, try to go down the route of a new table. Yes, they are going to be slightly more expensive, but you do get the benefit of a warranty. While the chance of there being a problem with your air hockey table is low (there is little that can go wrong with them), you do want to know that you have customer support should you need it.
On the other hand, used air hockey tables can be incredibly cheap. This is brilliant for those who may not know whether they want to lump huge sums of cash on an air hockey table at that moment in time.
However, do remember that there may be issues with the air hockey table which may not be immediately obvious. This can make purchasing difficult as you never know how many repairs will need to be carried out. Something which may initially seem cheap may become expensive very quickly. Try to avoid used air hockey tables until you know you have the skill to recognize any issues with it.
Where should you buy?
This is going to be completely up to you. Our personal recommendation is Amazon. They tend to offer the best support and the cheapest prices around. That being said, you may have somewhere in the local vicinity which specializes in air hockey tables. If you do, then make sure that you check those places out. You never know what deal you are going to uncover!
On this website, you will find a plethora of reviews for some of the best air hockey tables on the market. We do urge you to read a few of them, this way you can get a feel for the type of table that you can purchase, as well as get an idea as to the prices you can expect to pay. We cover every aspect of the tables available to ensure that you can make an informed purchase.