Air hockey is one of those classic arcade games that has been around for decades. There is just something about this game that attracts everyone to it. It is something just about anyone can play and is fun for all ages.
If you are considering an addition to your gaming room, this may just be the perfect addition. The thing about air hockey tables though is there are all sorts of different options out there.
From the kind of table to size, there are surprisingly a large number of variables at play. This also means there are all sorts of different price points to consider as well.
Due to this, before you go and start shopping around for the perfect air hockey table, you need to know of the different types, common features, what to consider before buying and also how to care for your air hockey table after you purchase it.
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There are several different kinds of air hockey tables to consider. This kind of table you go with will likely be influenced on both the amount of space you have and how much you want to spend on it. Typically, you can break down the kind of air hockey table into four different options. These options are:
- Mini Tabletop Table
- Multi-Game Table
- Bubble/Rod Hockey Table
- Full Air Hockey Table
Mini Tabletop Table
Perhaps you just don’t have much available space inside of your home. Or, maybe you want to test the waters with children before moving on to the full size offering. Either way, the table top table is the entry level form of air hockey. This is basically air hockey light. It is a smaller version and can go just about anywhere. It doesn’t have any legs to the air hockey table so you can place it on your kitchen table, a coffee table or even the floor if you want to. The pucks and handles are usually smaller, but it will also come at a smaller price point.
Air hockey is a common addition to the multi-game table. These are the tables where you’ll have several different table options. Many are air hockey and table tennis tables in one. Others allow you to place the air hockey over another game, such as foosball or even a smaller pool table. This is a nice way to go if you have a child who wants an air hockey table or a series of games and you have just the money or the room for one. Now, if you are looking at a multi-game table and want truly “air” hockey, make sure it does have a power option. Some multi-game tables are simply slick table tops without the air element. It really transforms it into a table hockey game as the gliding element of air really is important. Make sure the multi-game table is powered before going this route, otherwise you will be disappointed with the hockey aspect of the table.
Bubble/Rod Hockey Table
This is a classic game that has been around for a while. It falls under the air hockey banner as it does connect to power and use air in the table to help propel the puck. However, this kind of game is more a combination of air hockey and foosball than straight air hockey. This kind of a table has a bubble dome over the top of it and there is a rod that runs from the outside of the table to the inside of the table, controlling an individual player. You and an opponent more or less whack at the puck until it goes in the other players goal. This is a nice game if you want the element of air hockey but like foosball, this is a nice way to go (it is also usually less expensive than a full sized air hockey table). However, if you or a child wants the actual ability to fling a puck using the momentum you generate with your arm, the bubble/rod hockey table is probably not want you should go with.
Full Air Hockey Table
This is the stand alone table. When you want something that gives you that arcade feel and doesn’t have some of the other variations or elements of a multi-game table or bubble hockey table, there really is nothing like it. There are different features and designs of full air hockey tables you will find out there, and the price point can vary significantly from one to another, but in general, most air hockey tables work in a similar manor. So, if you or the person you are buying the table for wants the a quality air hockey table that is not diminished in order to bring in additional games, you need to focus your attention on this kind of a table.
While most straight up air hockey tables function in a similar manor, there are some surprisingly different feature you need to look into. Most of these features have a direct impact on the overall price you’ll pay for the table, but you may find there is one particular feature you simply need to go with. These different features you’ll find on a traditional air hockey table includes:
- Power Options
- Blind System
There are all sorts of different scoring options available when you go with an air hockey table. You may be surprised to find the number of air hockey tables that actually don’t come with any kind of scoring at all. You simply call out the goal before dropping the puck. This is fine, but in a heated game, it is easy to forget the score, especially if the puck goes back and forth for a minute or two before a goal. Other tables use the classic abacus scoring system, which is similar to what you might find on a foosball table. A handful of gaming designs use a digital scoring unit. This will give you more of that arcade feel. It can detect when the puck goes through the goal, resulting in a score on the digital display. The location of the digital display varies as well. It may appear on the side of the table, or some have an elevated scoring unit, which is held into position by curving rods arching in from each corner (similar to tent rods without the canvas). This makes it easier to see and is a nice, clean look. This kind of scoring will likely add to the price of your table.
With an air hockey table you naturally need power to generate the air. Now, some multi-game tables and even table units may not have any kind of power option at all, but instead use simply a really glossy and slick top. This reduces the quality of the gameplay and doesn’t offer the gliding nature of the puck. For units with actual power, you’ll find it is either a plug-in option or a battery powered option. Table units with power often rely on battery power. This does reduce the price of the table greatly up front, but you’ll need to have a large number of batteries on hand at all time as the constant draw on power can milk the batteries dry. For the best quality game, go with plug-in options. The plug-in game can deliver a more powerful air flow with more air jets in the table. You’ll nice a big difference between plug-in games and those with battery power.
This is found more on high-end tables, and even so, it is not available on all options. The blind system allows you to place a physical divider that bisects the table. Essentially, it prevents a player from seeing anything on the other side of the table. They are not able to see their opponent or what the player is doing with the puck. This can add a very interesting element to the game and it boosts the necessary amount of skill on the defensive end of the game. The nice thing about the blind system is it can be taken down rather easily. Now, this is not for everyone, and there will be some who want to avoid using it all together. However, if you want to elevate your skill level, consider going with an air hockey table offering a blind system.
What to Consider When Buying
Outside of the different types of air hockey tables and the features provided (like how it keeps track of scoring), there are other aspects to an air hockey table you need to consider when buying. Many of these variables are interrelated and one will have a direct impact on the next aspect. However, you need to keep these elements of the air hockey table in mind:
- How Much to Spend
- The Size of the Table
How Much to Spend
Air hockey tables vary wildly when it comes to what you end up spending. You can spend anywhere from right around $100 or so to over a thousand dollars. It just depends on what you want out of your game and the quality of the game itself. Now, there comes a point where the money you’re spending is not actually influencing the quality of the game but simply side materials or added features you really don’t need (such as cup holders). Just know you can spend a pretty penny on a table or cut the price down in half or even down to a third and receive the same basic game play.
The Size of the Table
The good thing about air hockey is you really don’t need much more space than the size of the table itself. Unlike other table games like table tennis or foosball, you will not be moving too much around. You’ll stay stationary at each end of the game and that is it. Now, with that said, there are several size options for a table. The two foot option is a compact unit and only really comes in a tabletop design. The bubble designs may come at this smaller size as well. Typically, the two foot option is designed for smaller children and are made out of inexpensive plastic. If you want any sort of quality in your table, you’ll probably want to avoid the two foot design.
The most common size of household tables range anywhere from four to six feet in size. You may be able to find some tabletop air hockey tables at four feet, but really anything larger than this and it is a stand alone unit. The multi-game tables will be right around the four or potentially five feet mark. Six feet and it will be a stand alone design. A six foot option is a nice way to go and will cost you less than the full size, tournament regulation tables.
The kind of tables you find at the arcade are likely seven or eight feet in size. These larger tables are usually much more expensive. It is amazing how much the price can go up with just this final foot or two. If you want the best of the best though, this is the way to go (although you will pay a pretty penny for it).
Material is directly related not just with how much you will pay but also the size of the table as well. Typically, the smaller tables are constructed primarily of plastic. The siding of the table may be made from wood to help improve the durability of the table, yet even the wood is of an inferior quality. The four to six foot tables have metal legs and will use a higher quality wood. You will also probably find tables with aluminum elements to it as well. Now, the high end tables are almost always constructed out of a quality, durable wood. In fact, the air hockey table almost becomes more of a show piece for a room than just a gaming table. With this kind of table, you will almost always get what you pay for. If you are finding the table is on the less expensive end, you are almost guaranteed it is made from plastic. If you find it is at the upper tier price point, it probably is cut from a beautiful wood.
How to Clean the Air Hockey Table
It is a good idea to clean off the table every few weeks at least. If you live in a dusty environment, you will need to clean it more frequently as preventing the air holes in the table is very important. First, you’ll want to power the table on. If you clean the table while it is off you’ll end up plugging holes with dust or forcing liquid down into the holes, which may eventually lead to mold. With the table on, wipe the entire table down with a microfiber cloth. This will collect any dust or dirt that has developed on the table. Now, add just a small amount of mild detergent solution, such as dish washing detergent and water, to the cloth and run it over the table. This will pick up the remaining debris and keep anything from plugging up the holes.
Once you have finished wiping it down, keep the fan on to make sure it dries properly (that’s one of the great aspects of an air hockey table – it dries quickly). With the table dry, apply a small amount of table top polish onto a cloth and rub it down. This will add a beautiful polish to the top of the table. It will help in the glide not only of the puck, but of your paddles as well. It is very important here to not use a lot of the polish, otherwise you risk plugging the holes (and why you need to apply the polish to the rag first).
You’ll want to clean the pucks and the push paddles as well. Investigate the bottom of the push paddles to see if the felt is good, or if you need to have it reapplied. Felt starting to come off poses a risk of plugging air holes.
When the polish has dried, you’ll want to wipe the table down again with a clean microfiber cloth. This will buff out any remaining polish and leave you with the showroom shine. Now, if you ever feel like the gameplay isn’t fast enough, or if you want to experiment with the speed of the table, you can pick up a silicone spray lubricant, spray it to a clean cloth and apply it over the table. This will offer a nice layer over the table and help boost the speed.
The best practice is to cover your table when it is not in use. This reduces the amount of dust and dirt it collects. It also reduces the frequency you’ll need to spend cleaning the table. Many tables do come with a provided cover (especially the more expensive tables). If it doesn’t, it is a good idea to invest in a cover.
Our Top 5 Air Hockey Table Choices Reviewed
An iconic sound of nearly every arcade is the clink of the puck on an air hockey table. This fast-paced game has been enjoyed by people of all ages for over 50 years, and now having a table of your own in your garage, game room or living room at home has never been a better option. What better way to enjoy some quality competition with your friends or children, then to turn on and compete over the hum of your personal air hockey table. Whether you are just trying to have some fun or training for some fierce competition at a tournament or the arcade, air hockey tables for every level of fun-seeker is available for your home.
When you are looking to add an air hockey table to your home in some capacity, there are some aspects that you need to take into account before you make that purchase. Luckily, there are tables of all sizes and types that can accommodate any size of room or level of play that you are looking to enjoy. Take a look at this guide to help determine which style and size of a table are right for you.
1. Rally and Roar Tabletop Air Hockey Table
Rally and Roar have produced a fantastic air hockey table that is completely portable and lightweight. This ensures that no matter what your living arrangement is, if you have a table and the itch to get a game of table hockey in with the family, you are set with our #1 pick for best mini tabletop air hockey game.
Made of dense fiber wood and smaller in dimensions than an arcade machine, you are able to set up the table on most surfaces near a normal power source that can power the 12V motor. Coming with two pucks and goals as well as a LED powered scoreboard, it delivers the full arcade experience whenever you have the impromptu urge to play.
A tabletop option is a fantastic option for kids parties or events because you are able to store it away compactly when it is not in use. Instead of having the table be the centerpiece of the room, with a table this easy to move around, you are all set for the fun when you want it.
2. Hathaway Phantom 7.5-foot Air Hockey Table
If you are looking to compete on a higher level, this full-sized table is what you are looking for. This seven and a half foot table brings the arcade to your garage or game room and is constructed to allow the same high caliber of play as you would expect.
The Hathaway Phantom also comes with all the quality of life features of play that you would expect, such as automatic puck return and scorekeeping, so you can stay focused on the game at high speeds.
Going with the more competitive table ensures that your quality of play is going to be top notch. The surface of the table contains nearly 3500 holes to ensure that the puck is always gliding on air at high speeds as you try to score on your opponent’s goal.
Also touting independent leg levelers as well as a scratch-resistant glossy finish on the table, you are able to ensure the highest of competitive play. Weighing 165 pounds and having a classic arcade look, this table is a perfect addition to an enthusiasts game room.
3. Premium Black 7-foot Air Hockey Chrome Table
Another high-quality option is this seven-foot table that has a dual pedestal base that remains sturdy during heavy play. Coming with its own leg levelers and a commercial grade motor, you can make sure that your games are fair and fast.
With over 3500 holes on the playing surface, this table brings a commercial and competitive feel to your home’s game room. While definitely existing on the high end of the spectrum, this table is a great addition for a true enthusiast to build a game room around.
This sturdy table weighs 380 pounds and has competition grade aluminum side walls to keep the game going smoothly. With a sleek black aesthetic, this table has a great style that you could build a rooms whole theme around, customizing the possible arcade feel that you can bring to your game room.
Better yet, it is complemented by 4 included black pushers as well as 3 red pucks, and a great design atop a scratch resistant surface.
4. Valley-Dynamo 8-foot Pro Style Air Hockey Table
This table option is the true enthusiast’s table, coming in at a whopping 435 pounds and in an 8-foot style. Better yet, this table comes with overhead scoring, to not only ensure that you are able to keep track of your high-end tournaments, but it also gives the table that true arcade look and feel.
Not only does the overhead apparatus keep score, but also provides light that illuminates the table. The rails of the unit are aluminum and tournament tested, so you can be ensured that you are competing against your opponent on the highest caliber of a table.
Better yet, this table has been approved for play by the United States Air-Table Hockey Association. All these options make this a great table option when you are looking for a table that has a regulation size playing surface.
5. Sportcraft 48” Air Hockey Table with Electronic Scorer
If you are simply looking to enjoy the game and might not have the most space but would still like something a bit more permanent, this is the table for you. This 48-inch table stands upon its own legs that also comes with its own leg levelers to ensure that you have an even playing field for the family. That’s why it’s our pick for the best cheap air hockey table for kids and teens!
This size of a table is perfect for nearly any size of recreation room or garage and is easy to assemble in your home. While it may be smaller than a professional table, it still has its own electric motor to continually deliver air for the puck to glide smoothly.
The table also has an electronic scoreboard, so you can compete with the family while enjoying some quality time. All the accessories to go head to head such as two pucks and two pushers come with the table to ensure the full hockey experience.
Time to Start Playing!
As this guide has shown, there are many different options, and your competitive level and available space is no limit to being able to enjoy either a friendly or fiercely competitive game of air hockey. While since air hockey has been around since 1969, luckily in this day and age it is more accessible to the home consumer. We have many options when it comes to practicing our skills to take to the arcade or pro circuit, or simply to enjoy with our family and friends.