Air Hockey Table Buyers Guide
What is an air hockey table?
Often people get confused by the difference between an air-powered gaming table and a bubble and rod gaming table. An air-powered table consists of a perforated playing surface with a battery or wall plug powered fan underneath that blows air through the holes and provides a slight lift to the puck. This allows the puck to float on the surface, not unlike a hovercraft, and more accurately simulate an ice surface. Often hockey tables (and tabletop versions, more on this later) use this method because of this effect while foosball tables will usually be rod-based.
How to find a table that suits your needs
There are many things to consider when selecting the right table for your needs. While size and cost are the most immediate factors that come into one’s mind, quality is also important and determined by a range of factors. As well, there are several types of table-based hockey games which are described in detail below. While this site is primarily focused on air- based table hockey we will cover all the types available. Check back soon for a free guide containing a comprehensive summary of everything on the website, including reviews, recommendations, rules and printable score cards.
Air Hockey Table: as described above, a popular choice for all ages, skill levels and price ranges. This type of recreational gaming table offers fun, fast-paced action in all sizes and options.
Table Top Air Hockey: This offers the same fun, as a table version but with the convenience and versatility of table top mounting. Basically, the only difference is there are no legs. This is great for smaller gaming spaces such as dorm rooms, or just easy transport between rooms.
Bubble and Rod Hockey Tables: This model is less popular these days but was once the mainstay of all recreational hockey tables.
Multi Game Tables: Multi game tables are becoming more and more popular with plenty of good quality models available for affordable prices from a lot of your favourite stores. A good quality multi game table contains multiple playing surfaces for games such as foosball, rod hockey, pool/billiards and dice football.
Looking for an affordable, simple table for a Christmas or birthday gift for the kids? No problem. Looking for a luxury, enthusiast model with high-end finishings. No problem. Gone are the days when recreational gaming tables are accessible only to the well-to-do. Now, there are models priced for all budgets, skills levels and ages.
For small tabletop hockey units you can pay as little as $50 during a sale, though these are basic and may not offer the longevity that you are looking for in your table. Expect to pay between $350 – $1000 for a good quality table. This includes tables between 4 to 6 feet in length whereas a 6+ foot table can run several thousand dollars.
Sizes (in length)
2-feet (<24”): Compact and often limited to tabletop models, this size of gaming table is great for young kids. Typically they are inexpensive though sturdy and reliable. Usually they are manufactured overseas and due to their compact nature are offered by a lot retail stores. You may have to go to a specialty shop to find a high-quality/small-format table but these types are great for kids and small spaces that can quickly and easily pack away in a closet or under a bed.
4 to 6-feet (up to 72”): This is the most popular size range for home-based play. The playing surface feels just right for most games. Whether it is a tournament with a bunch of buddies or just a fun night of family games, the 4 to 6-foot long gaming table is a great choice.
7 to 8-feet (up to 96”): The size range of choice for arcade-style or tournament choice play. And an arcade is usually where you will find tables in this range. Although some enthusiasts do have a table of this size in their basement, they can be quite expensive, running into several thousand dollars.
Battery or Plug-in: To plug-in or battery power, that is the question. This really depends upon the size. Only smaller tables, either legged or tabletop, have batteries as a choice. Batteries simply cannot power anything larger. So what about plug-in 2-foot tables? If you are planning on playing a lot on a nicer Hathaway or Sportcraft setup then a plug is essential. Battery-powered hockey tables can take up to 10 double-AA batteries. This can be costly if you don’t use rechargeables. However, if you want to take your air hockey camping then a plug isn’t going to help during that late night impromptu tournament with all your buddies. I would have to recommend a hybrid for most scenarios. This would allow you to get your game on in almost any environment.
This is highly dependant upon the size. Smaller, cheaper air hockey table are usually made primarily of plastic often with some wood panelling this provides a degree of strength and durability.
A medium size table requires more support for the weight it is carrying. Usually these tables that run between 4 to 6 feet in length will incorporate wood or metal legs with MDF and/or metal casing around the play area. A nicer table often has metal trim made from aluminum.
The largest professional quality tables are more ruggedly built with strong metal and solid wood support throughout.
Long story short; you get what you pay for.