Picture this: all the members of the family are home but none of them are talking to each other. Instead, they are in their own corner, with heads bowed down and fingers busy tinkering with their gadget of choice. Seems familiar, doesn’t it?
If you are looking for a way to bring everyone together for some fun, quality time, here is a suggestion: play air hockey! With its simple rules and fast paced action, it is no wonder that people of all ages are easily drawn to it.
Besides being entertaining, you may be surprised to know that air hockey actually delivers a lot of benefits.
It helps burn calories and lose fat, and it also helps hand-eye coordination as well as strategic thinking.
Although its history only dates back to the late 60’s, the table has evolved into different styles and sizes.
Whether you prefer a basic table or one with all the flashy features, there is a table that will perfectly suit you. It may be intimidating but there is no reason to be, because we will arm you with all the information you need – from the types of hockey tables to the specific elements to look for. Most importantly, we will give you a tip as to which tables are the best.
In purchasing a table, or just about anything for that matter, you would want to make sure that you choose it as carefully as possible. Nobody wants to watch precious dollars going down the drain! There is no better way of choosing wisely than by knowing exactly what to look for. Having some sort of a checklist gets you a good step ahead.
To get you started on your table hunting journey, we have prepared this buying guide. These are specific characteristics that you need to consider in getting the perfect product for you.
An air hockey table’s materials depend largely on what type of table it is. Generally, you will find plastic and wood panels as the main materials of smaller and cheaper tables. Tables that measure 4 to 6 feet long may have wood or metal legs to support the MDF and metal table top. If you want solid wood and strong metal all over, look for professional quality tables.
Again, the type and size of the table are interrelated. Table top hockey games are mostly designed for children so they are naturally smaller. On the other hand, stand alone and convertible tables can vary widely in length and height.
The more popular size of home tables is between 4 to 6 feet while tables for arcade or tournament play are from 7 to 8 feet. Whatever size you may prefer, make sure that it will fit in the space that you allocate for it.
As for table thickness, 3/4 inches is preferred to have that smooth surface for excellent playability.
If your budget permits, go for a table constructed of solid wood to allow it to withstand intense play. In addition, look for a table that has sturdy legs. Make sure that solid screws clamp the joints together.
You don’t want an uneven table because that is simply annoying, not to mention unfair, so look for a table that has leg levelers.
Don’t forget the rink walls! For occasional use, get a table with rink walls that are made of thin laminate aluminum. However, expect that they will give very little rebound. If you want great bounciness and deflection, look for a table with rink walls made of strong nylon or solid aluminum.
Consistent Air Power
Air hockey is not called such for nothing. Air is the life of the game! It blows from the fans and goes through the surface, allowing the puck to simulate its movement on ice.
Smaller tables are usually battery-operated while others are plugged in. The best ones are the hybrid type because you are not limited by the life of your batteries or having to play near a socket.
Exciting Add Ons
To make the game even more enjoyable, air hockey tables can also come with other interesting features. If you like to keep track of the score, some tables allow you to tally manually while others have electronic scoreboards. How do you feel about lights and sounds that flash at the signal of a goal? If that does not add excitement, we don’t know what does!
Top 5 Air Hockey Tables
Now that you know exactly what to examine, you are ready to buy your own table.
However, there are a lot of them available on the market. Choosing one can be so confusing that it can make you feel like a puck going back and forth!
You’re welcome, because we know that you will thank us for getting the complicated part over and done with. We know that you want nothing but the best, and that is exactly what’s coming up!
If you don’t have the luxury of space, this type of table suits you perfectly. You do not have to allot an area for it because its sturdy MDF hardwood frame can rest on any table or surface.
Its 40-inch size is ideal for children as young as 5 years old. It can also be good for teenagers but even people who are in their 60’s reportedly enjoy it!
With its uncomplicated design and 19 pound weight, the Playcraft Sport is very easy to assemble. Storage is also effortless because it takes up very minimal space. It can even fit under your kid’s bed.
Despite its size, you should not undermine its capacity. The pucks are propelled by air that goes as powerful as 100-cubic-foot-per-minute. You also don’t need to worry about replacing or charging batteries because it comes with an AC adapter and a wall plug.
The table includes 2 strikers and 2 pucks so you are ready to get it on as soon as assembly is done!
If you want a portable but efficient table with minimal space and investment required, go for the Playcraft Sport.
If you are a fan of portability and convenient storage, you will also love the Sport Squad HX40.
Measuring 40 inches, it is perfect for children or those in their early teens but it can definitely be enjoyed by adults as well. Height is not a problem because you place it on top of any table so just choose one that best suits the players.
Its size also makes storage effortless. If you are a parent who is tired of your kids pointing fingers when it’s time to put the table away, the Sport Squad HX40 is heaven-sent.
It is made of MDF which is a type of high quality wood so you can be assured of its durability. When the game gets intense, even the surface that it lays on is safely protected from scratches because of the table’s rubber pads.
With every goal made, the manual scorers help you keep track of the game’s progress. It is also easy to get back to action because the goal boxes return the puck immediately.
The Sport Squad HX40 has to be plugged in to work. However, you may find the power cord a bit short so in setting up the table, it is best to find a spot near a socket.
It comes with two round pucks and two plastic strikers. After its no-sweat assembly, you are ready for fast-paced air hockey action!
Overall, owning the Sport Squad HX40 is an affordable and convenient way to enjoy this game with your family and friends.
If you prefer a bigger, stand alone table, make way for our final medalist, the Playcraft Center Ice.
This 7 foot table may be a bit heavy but setting it up is really simple. And once completely assembled, you will immediately appreciate its solid construction.
Due to its size and build, the table can be a hit for teenagers. Wondering about all the table bumping and shoving that naturally comes with this exciting game? The Playcraft Center Ice can take all that. In addition to its weight, the 6 inch pedestal style legs add stability to the table.The legs feature 5 inch diameter levelers that are useful not only for balancing the table but also for adjusting its height.
The play field is ¾ inch thick PVC laminate. It has a smooth, glossy finish that allows fast puck movement. The 2.5” diameter pucks may be a bit small but its size is just perfect for the table’s blower. However, you might need to get used to picking them up because of their tendency to fly off the table.
If you are not a fan of old fashioned pen and paper scoring, an electronic scorer will do that for you. It is built into the side rail and is powered by four AA batteries.
If you have enough space and budget to spare, we highly recommend that you get a Playcraft Center Ice.
Coming in at fourth place is a 4.5 foot stand alone table, the Redline Acclaim. Although it may be small by most standards, it definitely deserves a second look.
Its PVC laminated playfield is smooth and appealing while the table’s blower is enough to propel the 2 ⅛” pucks. The ½” rails also provide a consistent bounce. What can you expect when these factors come together? Smooth and fast action, just how you want it to be!
At 39 lbs., the table is a bit lighter than others in this category. Its stability rests on 3 ¼” L-style legs and is reinforced by end and side aprons. While it can take on reasonable budging, it’s still best to not push the table to its limit.
To keep track of who’s winning, you can use its slide scoring system. The external puck catchers are also helpful in immediately getting back to action after a goal is scored. Less time wasted means more air hockey action!
Due to its assured value for money, the Redline Acclaim gets our vote.
If you want something more than just the typical table, this one is for you. Presenting the exciting table that completes our top 5 list, the Viper Vancouver.
This full size 7.5 foot table is as close as you can get to an arcade style air hockey table. It has all the basics in place, plus some add-ons that really make the game more interesting.
Its playing surface features ice hockey rink graphics over a smooth, white surface. The deep set rink gives a nice bounce while the powerful air flows consistently to keep the puck in play. Underneath each goal are puck return boxes that players can easily reach to return to the game quickly.
What sets the Viper Vancouver apart from competition is its professional style electronic scorer and timer. It shows the score as well as the time which you can set at your minute time preference. Located at the right side of the center rink, this LED display is visible to both players from where they are. It even has sound effects!
Can you almost feel the excitement? Before you do, you have to know that putting it together requires a bit of help. It weighs 265 lbs. and setting it up requires flipping it over so extra hands will surely be practical.
Simple assembly challenges aside, the Viper Vancouver is surely capable of bringing in lots of fun!
In choosing an air hockey table, much of your decision lies on the type of table that you prefer. Is the table for skilled and serious gamers, or younger ones who want to release energy and simply have fun? How much space do you have? Do you want one with all the bells and whistles?
To take you one step closer to the perfect table for you, consider the following types:
If you want a regulation size table that can handle long hours of playing and comes with nice features such as electronic scoring, sound effects, and music, then an arcade type suits you best.
It boasts of solid construction to withstand long and intense play. It also features a powerful motor to keep the puck in play.
Consequently, the arcade type is usually the most expensive.
These are full, stand alone tables that are more basic and, therefore, more affordable than the arcade-style ones.
You may be surprised that there are plenty of choices available on the market. In terms of level of quality and price, there is one that will surely match your preference. While you should not expect special features, you can still be guaranteed that a lot of standard tables are reliable and entertaining.
Are you wondering if there is a way for you to enjoy air hockey even if you do not have the space to accommodate a standard table? The answer is a resounding “yes”!
What you need is a table top type which is the smallest version that you can get. As the name suggests, you place it on top of a table or any flat surface and you instantly have a table to play on! They usually have rubber feet so you do not need to worry about damaging the surface that it rests on.
A lot of people prefer this type of table not only because of its portability but also because of its cost efficiency.
Convertible or Multi-Game
There is no arguing that air hockey is a fun and exciting game. But do you know that you can play more than one game using the same table?
A multi-game table can be converted so you can also use it for pingpong, pool, or foosball. It is also a good spot to play board games like chess, checkers, or backgammon.
However, convertible tables have a reputation of being inferior. You may call it a case of prioritizing quantity over quality. If this is you table of preference, you should be ready to deal with some flaws.
The Top Brands
Considering the vast amount of choices on the market, one foolproof way to spot a good table is to look at its brand. A company earns a sterling reputation due to its high standards of quality so you can expect their products to be topnotch.
As expected our top tables come from two of the most highly regarded producers of game room equipment and accessories today, Playcraft Sport and Sport Squad.
From its humble beginnings in 1975, Playcraft Sport is now a recognized name in the game room industry. It has stayed true to its mission of producing high quality products through its dedication to excellent workmanship and continuous innovation.
Today, its pool tables, games tables and accessories are preferred not only for home but for commercial and institutional use as well. You can find their products being enjoyed in schools, private offices, hospitals, government agencies, and even military institutions.
They have a variety of products on the market. You can choose among table top, stand alone and multi-game versions. You can surely find one that suits your style – and budget!
Another strong player in the industry is Sport Squad, manufacturer and distributor of well-loved air hockey, foosball, and arcade basketball products. It is also the exclusive North American partner of JOOLA, one of the most prominent brands of professional table tennis equipment.
Its noble vision is to bring family and friends together, all the more relevant in our highly digital but very impersonal times. So far, it has been successful as it delivers beyond expectation by adhering to principles of quality, innovation, and excellent customer service.
Although its table tennis line is considered the most celebrated, the rest of its products, including the hockey tables, are definitely following suit!
Other Things to Consider
Whether you end up buying the simplest or the most high-end table, it is your responsibility to care for it so it remains in good condition for as long as possible.
So how do you maintain your brand new purchase? Here are some tips:
Do not eat or drink near the table.
There may be bits of food or liquid that may fall on the surface and clog the air holes. This can affect the performance of the fans considerably, and the last thing that you want is a puck that does not hover.
Clean the surface.
In cleaning the table’s surface, less is actually more. There is no need for special concoctions or expensive waxes because they could also clog the air holes. Instead, use a damp cloth to wipe off any marks on the surface. If needed, you can use a liquid cleaner but remember to spray some on the cloth and not directly on the table.
Don’t forget the pucks!
Clean them the same way that you would clean the surface. As long as they are free from impurities, they will stay smooth, retain their glide, and continue to give you a great air hockey experience.
Protect the table.
When not in use, remember to keep your table protected. You can improvise with a cloth cover or plastic sheeting. You can also purchase one especially made for these tables, like the Hathaway Universal Table Cover.
Check the table’s construction.
Aside from cleaning and protecting your table, you also have to check the other parts. Tighten the bolts regularly. Check if the table is level and if needed, adjust using the built-in levelers.
There is no doubt that air hockey is a fun and exciting game that both kids and adults can enjoy. More so, these tables these days are so impressive that they make the game even more interesting.
If you do not have the luxury of space, there are good table top models to choose from. Of course, there are also the reliable stand alone tables and the fancy arcade-style tables.
A lot of them are easy to assemble so that should not bother you anymore. They also have useful features such as manual or electronic scorers, puck returns, leg levelers, and even light and sound effects.
For sure game winners, look for tables from Playcraft Sport and Sport Squad. We have confirmed that they have the best models on the market today so they will surely not disappoint.
Are you ready? Get your Playcraft Sport table and push that puck now!
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