Best air hockey table
I can still remember the excitement of going to the movie theatre as a child. We would always go early because, among all of the arcade games, they had the best air hockey table!
I think it was an MD Sports air hockey table. I can still remember the logo on the side rail. Not sure if that is a testament to their branding or to the enjoyment that table brought me.
My brother and I would spend as much time as possible smashing that little plastic puck at each other. Of course, I would always pretend to be my favorite team, the New Jersey Devils, and he was the Edmonton Oilers (Gretzky, pfft).
My parents, with their infinite wisdom, saw how much joy this simple game brought us, so one Christmas, they surprised us with an air hockey table for our home.
Yes, we were spoiled children!
We couldn’t have been more ecstatic, though. I still remember playing on that ESPN air hockey table like it was yesterday. We played for hours on end.
Now that we have aged a little (not matured, but aged), and I have a man cave of my own, you can bet an air hockey table was among the first purchases I made.
I have to admit, as a child, you have no idea how many things you need to consider when buying an air hockey table.
Seriously, from electronic scoreboards to leg levelers, there is a lot to think about. I feel like air hockey tables were simpler when I was a child as I can’t see my parents doing this much research when they bought us our ESPN air hockey table.
Since I have already completed this research, I figured I would share my results to save you some time.
Before we get into the actual reviews, there are a few things you need to consider before buying your very own air hockey table.
How to Play Air Hockey
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of what makes a great air hockey table, you must understand the basics of the game. Having this knowledge will make it easier to understand why leg levelers or even airflow is so important.
Don’t worry if you are not a stickler for the rules. Air hockey is one of those games that is pretty easy to pick up. Basically, you and your opponent just try to hit the puck as hard as you can until you score.
As you get more into the game, you will want to start playing for real, though. That is why I am going to give you a quick rundown of the rules.
Much like the Superbowl, the game starts with a coin toss. The winner of the coin toss gets possession fo the puck and chooses the side they want to play on.
Now that the game is about to start, grab your mallet (paddle-like thing, which is equivalent to a hockey stick in real hockey). Each player is only allowed to have one mallet on the ice at any time. With that said, what kid hasn’t double-fisted when it comes to air hockey mallets? It is a whole lot of fun having two mallets.
With mallet in hand, you are now ready to score some goals. The objective is to score seven goals before your opponent does. Sounds easy, right? Well, yeah, but there can be some iffy goals scored.
Here are a few goals that should be disallowed:
- If the puck bounces in and back out of the goalmouth;
- The puck stops half-way in the goalmouth but is not tilted inwards. So if there is no tilt, then there is no goal. If it is tilted, then that is a good goal, my friends.
- If you score while your opponent is distracted. Okay, I never followed this rule growing up. I would always distract my brother and then quickly hit the puck into his net.
A few last rules to consider when playing air hockey.
After each game, you will rotate sides, and the player who lost the coin toss will start with the puck.
It is always smart to decide on the number of games before you start. We always did a best-of-seven series, but that was because we were pretending to be in the Stanley Cup playoffs. You can choose, however, many games you want. The important thing is to agree on this number before the puck drops.
That is it for the basic rules. Now, you can see why air hockey is such a great family activity. It is a simple yet thoroughly enjoyable game that anyone can play.
Okay, now that we have the rules figured out, let’s see what a perfect air hockey table looks like. We are going to start with a few things you need to look at when comparing air hockey tables. This will be extremely valuable when you are shopping around.
What to Look For When Buying an Air Hockey Table
When it comes to air hockey tables, size matters.
It may be one of the crucial factors for choosing a home air hockey table. Air hockey tables can be as large as 8 feet or as small as 40 inches. Obviously, there will be some differences between these two size variants.
If you are joining the competitive air hockey league (yes, competitive air hockey is a thing), then you will want to buy an 8-foot practice table. If you are purchasing a table for your children to goof around with, then a smaller table will work just fine.
At the end of the day, it is going to come down to space you have in your home and what you plan to use the air hockey table for.
You may not realize it, but the rink walls are essential for a good air hockey experience. It is the walls that dictate how well the puck bounces. You see, the walls have aluminum rails built within them, and it is the quality of this material that dictates just how bouncy the walls will be. It ultimately dictates how crazy you can get that puck flying around the rink.
The motor can make or break your air hockey table. It is the motor that drives the air, so it plays a pretty crucial role in the game. Without the air, there is no air hockey.
It really comes down to the power and placement of the motor, as this dictates how well it dispenses the air. Of course, the better the airflow, the better the puck gliding experience – and the more goals I will be able to score on my brother.
One thing to note, you have to consider more than just the power of the motor. You can have the most powerful engine in the world, but if it doesn’t disperse the air evenly, then you will have dead spots. Believe me, you don’t want dead spots. It really ruins the flow of the game.
Table Support System
Okay, so maybe this is just a fancy way of saying legs. Having sturdy legs with cross braces is essential for a good air hockey table. I can tell you from personal experience that things will get crazy, and you will want to have legs that can support a grown man.
Make sure you look into the positioning of the legs as well as the material that is used. You will want a sturdy material with tapered legs. This will ensure that you don’t have a wobbly table. A solid wooden base, composite wood, or heavy-duty metal legs often works best.
Our first home air hockey table didn’t have a fancy electronic scoring system. It just had a plastic counter on the side rails that went to ten, I believe. Although, the ones on my brothers’ side probably didn’t need to go that high!
Now, the air hockey table scoring system setups can rival the jumbotron system at Madison Square Gardens. The electronic scoreboards are wicked, and sure, they can break from time-to-time, but with the sound effects and music, it really does enhance the game. It almost makes you feel like you are in a real arena.
With that said, there is nothing wrong with the manual scoreboard. It didn’t ruin my childhood memories. It is also less likely to break down on you. So, if you are the type of person that likes to keep things simple, then the manual scoring system is the way to go.
Have you ever put together Ikea furniture?
Actually, let me re-phrase that.
Have you ever gotten angry and thrown an Allen key at the wall, while setting up Ikea furniture?
Well, depending on the air hockey table you buy, you just might get to relive that experience.
There will be some assembly required, regardless of the unit you purchase. However, the larger and more sophisticated the table, the more challenging it will be to set up.
So, choose wisely!
The prices for air hockey tables for your home are all over the map. It is not uncommon to see expensive tables with less than desirable craftmanship. You must look at the value you are getting for the table you buy.
The price will be dictated by the elements mentioned above, as well as the quality of the material. If you choose to go with a plastic air hockey table, then you will likely save a few bucks, but you may pay for it down the line. I always recommend going with either a wooden or metal-air hockey table. The support that quality materials provide is definitely worth the extra cost.
These are a few of the more critical details to consider when purchasing an air hockey table.
Something we have only briefly touched on that I want to delve deeper into is the material of your air hockey table. Understanding your material options will help you make the best decision possible. Let’s take a look at a few of the more common materials used for the base, the surface, and even the pucks themselves.
What is the Best Air Hockey Table Material?
Typically, you will see air hockey bases made from wood, metal, plastic, or an MDF wood composite.
Among the strongest and sturdiest materials for your air hockey table. High-quality tables will usually be made out of a nicely finished wood. The major downfall of this material is the weight. Wood is heavy, so you will get a great upper body workout if you plan on moving this around the basement.
An MDF wood composite is quite common and provides a level of support without the weight of pure wood. If you are looking for a high-quality table material that will be able to support your weight as you celebrate your Stanley Cup-winning goal, but not tire your arms out while moving the table to the side for the ticker-tape parade, then an MDF composite wood material could work.
A metal base isn’t as common these days, but I have seen tables with an aluminum or similar type of metal. These metal bases are sturdy and can be reasonably light. You will likely see more composite wood tables but don’t completely discount the metal base one as they can be quite good if the price is right.
While many of the tables will add plastic components into the base or stand, if the table is made entirely from plastic, then it may have some stability issues. Let’s face it, plastic just doesn’t have the sturdiness or strength that the materials above offer.
This isn’t to say that you can’t purchase a plastic air hockey table, but you may not want to pay premium prices for a plastic table.
While the base of the air hockey table is important, you could argue that the surface layer is even more crucial. This is the area that dictates how well the puck will glide around.
Does the puck glide smoothly as if the surface of your air hockey table was just wiped clean by the Zamboni? Or is it bouncing all over the place like the end of the 3rd period in a mid-June game in Arizona (who am I kidding, Arizona doesn’t play hockey in June)?
Most air hockey tables will have their surface constructed from wood with a smooth laminate layer on top. This ensures the puck glides effortlessly around the table.
Cheaper tables may use a thin layer of plastic. While this works, it is not as durable, nor is it as efficient as the laminate layer. Just keep this in mind when purchasing your next air hockey table.
Regardless of the layer your air hockey table has, be careful not to chip or dent the surface. These materials tend to dent easily, so don’t throw your hockey paddle down too hard when you blow the lead. Any chips or dents will cause friction, which leads to dead spots on your air hockey rink.
We are spending all this time discussing the material of the air hockey table, and with good reason, but what about the puck itself? The puck plays a pretty important role in creating an enjoyable air hockey experience.
Most pucks are comprised of something called Lexan polycarbonate resin. This is an ideal material as it is durable, shatterproof, and even environmentally friendly.
It is the perfect substance!
Meanwhile, some cheaper pucks may be composed of a plastic-like substance created from nylon and Capron. If you have the option, always choose the Lexan resin pucks. They are just better overall and will create a much more enjoyable experience.
This is especially true if you are practicing to be a pro player. The official league only allows 3 types of pucks:
- The Lexan Red
- The Lexan Yellow
- The Dynamo Green
Who would have thought that there would be so many things to consider when it comes to buying an air hockey table? As I stated before, I guarantee you my mom and dad did not consider all of these elements before purchasing their table. I am also pretty sure we just used plastic pucks – I don’t even think all of them were rounded. Man, how times have changed!
While there may be a lot to consider, at the end of the day, you just want to get a great air hockey table that will provide you with the best experience. Below, we’ll go over a few of the pros and cons of some of the best air hockey tables. This will help drive home the elements that are crucial to consider when purchasing an air hockey table for your home.
The 5 Best Air Hockey Tables Of 2020
It is tough to talk about air hockey tables and not start your list with the MD Sports Air Powered Hockey Table. This table is one of the more popular brands on the market.
If you are looking for features to enhance your air hockey game, then this may be a good option for you. It comes with a high-quality electronic scoreboard with LED lighting and plenty of sound effects to make you feel like you are right there in the action.
The MD Sports Air Hockey Table offers a variety of colors, so you can lean on your creative side to choose the best table for your space. Besides aesthetics, the MD Sports table uses high-quality materials. It features a powerful motor with a promise of even airflow distribution for ultimate puck movement.
At the same time, the legs are tapered and constructed with a solid MDF composite wood material, so you shouldn’t have to worry about the table buckling under the pressure. The MD Sports table also features a handy set of leg levelers, so you can easily adjust for uneven surfaces. This will ensure that you always have a level and fair game of air hockey.
- Various color options
- Stable base made from MDF Composite wood
- Leg levelers to adjust for uneven surfaces
- Airflow is weak in some areas (dead spots)
- Assembly and delivery issues
- Scoreboard malfunctions sometimes
Now, this brings me back to my childhood. The hours of fun my brother and I had with our ESPN Air Hockey Table will always be a cherished memory. As you might have expected, the air hockey table has advanced quite a bit over the last 20 years or so.
This is nowhere near the same table that I played on all those years ago.
If you are looking for an air hockey table that can fit into most spaces, then you may want to look into this one a little closer. The fully-assembled dimensions for the ESPN Game Table are 84 “x 46″ x 32”, which should fit nicely in your man cave. Naturally, if you are going into the pro league, then you may want to skip over this one and look into getting the 8-foot, competition level table.
So, what has made the ESPN Air Hockey Table stand the test of time?
It starts with the durable and long-lasting design elements and finishes with high-quality components. For example, this table comes with a 120V motor to ensure that the airflow is constant across the surface. It doesn’t matter if you are digging the plastic puck out of the corner on slapping a shot from the slot, the air will be there.
Of course, the ESPN Air Hockey Game Table includes a few bells and whistles such as an LED scoreboard with arcade-level sounds. With sound quality like this, you may feel like you just scored the winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
As someone who loves hitting the plastic puck as hard as possible, I appreciate the sidewalls of this unit. They are reinforced with an acrylic finish and designed to prevent the puck from flying off the table. While it is fun trying to hit your brother in the face with a puck, it does slow down the game, so this is a nice touch by ESPN.
- Powerful 120V motor
- Reasonable price for what you get
- LED electronic scoring unit with arcade sound effects
- Includes the paddles and the pucks
- Very sturdy
- Laminated surface area may peel
- Broken units being delivered
If you are looking for a straight-forward air hockey table, the Gold Standard Games Home Pro Elite fits the bill. While the Home Pro Elite isn’t the most expensive of the Gold Standard air hockey tables, it will still cost a pretty penny to bring this one home.
So, what makes this air hockey table so special?
It is just the durable quality of the Home Pro Elite. These units are built to last, so your kids will be able to grow up playing on this table. While the legs are crafted from sturdy plastic, the base of the table is all MDF composite wood, which creates a stable base.
In my opinion, what makes this table stand out above the rest is the low-profile and professional nature of it. The table includes a face-off circle, which gives you the feel of a real rink. More importantly, are the aluminum side rails which are sturdy and provide premium bank-ability. You will see some beautiful bounces on this table. If you are trying to play the angles, you can be sure that your shot will work on this realistic table.
It is crucial to mention that this is an 8-foot table, so you will need some space in the man cave to set this one up. This is the first professional air hockey table on our list, and it is even endorsed by a few professional players, so you know it plays well. If you are looking for superior gameplay or are practicing for an upcoming tournament, the Gold Standard air hockey table may be the perfect option for you.
- Professional-grade table
- High-quality, aluminum side rails for the best bounces
- Sleek surface for ideal puck movement
- On the more expensive side
- Large table that will require a lot of space
Of course, the ESPN Air Hockey table made it back onto the list. They produce high-quality products, and they come in a variety of sizes. This table is for the people who don’t have a ton of space. Coming in at only 5-feet in length, it is ideal for smaller areas or for younger players.
Don’t let the small size fool you, though!
Just like the larger tables, the ESPN 5′ Air Powered Hockey Table delivers the features that you need in a good hockey table. This includes an electronic scoreboard, high-powered motors, and a sturdy set of legs.
The electronic scoreboard on this smaller table is compact and tucked into the sidewall. Big enough to know how many goals you need to tie it up and force overtime but not so big that it is cumbersome and in the way.
Much like it’s bigger brothers, the ESPN 5′ table comes with a full-panel leg supports that includes cross beams and even some handy leg levelers. This will ensure that your game is never wobbly and always stable, regardless of the ground underneath the table.
One of the pros of getting a smaller and more compact table is the ease of assembling that table. No engineering degree will be required for setting up this one. You should be able to put this together and be challenging your kids to all-day hockey tournaments in no time.
- Easy to assemble
- Compact electronic scoreboard for easy score-keeping
- Small and compact air hockey table
- Leg levelers to ensure level play, regardless of the uneven flooring
- Airflow is weaker around the edges
- Not for serious players getting ready for their next competition.
The Brunswick Windchill is a great air hockey table for families looking for a little weekend fun. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the other tables, but it still offers a great game of air hockey.
The scoreboard of The Brunswick Windchill brings me back to my first air hockey table. It has a manual abacus style score-keeper, which will not malfunction like the electronic scoreboards. Although, it is easier to cheat with this score-keeping setup, so keep an eye on your opponent!
One of the features that may appeal to you is the sleek, MDF composite surface, which prevents any serious scratches or notches. This thing is basically scratch-resistant, which is always nice when you have a house full of rambunctious kids. It also makes for an excellent playing surface, so expect some pretty lively competitions with this air hockey table.
Overall, The Brunswick Windchill air hockey table is a simple table with a sleek and elegant design. It is made of sturdy materials allowing this table to last throughout your child’s high school years and beyond. If you are looking for a simple but well-performing air hockey table, then look no further then the Brunswick Windchill. This table will last a lifetime and will provide countless memories along the way.
- Durable and long-lasting
- The base is scratch-resistant allowing you to keep that pristine look for longer
- Powerful motor providing an even airflow distribution and excellent puck movementEasy to assemble
- Manual scoreboard
- Large and takes up space
- Simple design patterns
Not all air hockey tables are created equally. Sure, each of these tables has some great features, but they also all have their flaws.
So, how do you choose the best air hockey table?
Well, for me, it goes back to the actual gameplay. I want a table that is going to be sturdy, provide even airflow distribution, and provide an experience that my kids and I will enjoy.
One quick note.
I am not a competitive air hockey player, nor will I ever be one, so I didn’t consider these elements when selecting the winner.
For me, the top air hockey table is the ESPN Air Hockey 7′ Game Table. When it comes to gameplay, this table has it all. The 120V motor ensures that you have plenty of airflow across the entire surface. This means that the puck will flow effortlessly, and the game will be fast and smooth.
On top of this is the fact that it has an electronic scoreboard with awesome arcade sounds. This adds to the experience you get when playing. Who doesn’t like the goal horn going off when you rip one past your opponent? Besides, my kids love the sound effects. Okay, when I say kids, I mean me!
Finally, the ESPN Air Hockey 7′ Game Table is built to last a long while. The legs are sturdy and come with easy to use leg levelers, so the table can sit nicely on any surface. This ensures a stable and level game, no matter what happens. We wouldn’t want the ice tilting in favor of your opponent, would you?
Overall, these features create an excellent air hockey table with an affordable price tag. If you are looking for a good air hockey table for the whole family to enjoy, then I think the ESPN Air Hockey 7′ Game Table could be perfect for you.
I will say, that it was a really close match between the ESPN Air Hockey 7′ Game Table and the Brunswick Windchill. The latter also offers a superior gameplay experience with its powerful motor and durable design. At the end of the day, though, the electronic scoreboard and the design of the ESPN Air Hockey Table just adds that extra little bit to the overall air hockey experience. However, if you aren’t bothered by the lack of fancy gadgets and prefer a simple design, then the Brunswick could be an excellent option.