6 Best Air Hockey Tables | April 2017
- perfect size for kid's play room
- designed for portability
- handles can break easily
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- multiple game time options
- makes cheering sounds when you score
- tabletop scratches after minimal use
|Brand||Viper by GLD Products|
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- ul approved circuitry
- perfect size for children
- weak airflow at the edges
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- elegant broad legs
- deep playing surface
- screen-printed starburst design
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
- adjustable table legs
- dual motors for strong air pressure
- optional in-game music
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
- perfect for larger recreation rooms
- aluminum rails for bank shots
- durable wear-resistant surface
|Brand||Gold Standard Games|
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
Ask Yourself These Three Questions Before You Buy
Who is going to be playing on this table?
If you own a bar, or you run a youth club - that is, if you're buying an air hockey table for use by anyone outside your immediate household - you'll probably be looking for an arcade style table. If it's for your kids, meanwhile, you might be happy with a smaller table or even a tabletop version, but you might also want to look for fun extra features like graphics or sound effects.
How seriously do you (or they) take air hockey?
You don't need to be an aspiring Mark Robbins to want a top quality, arcade style table - even if you're only playing occasionally, you might still want to splash out on a table that will look good in your spare room. But if you are particularly competitive and in search of a premium gaming experience, then you'll want to look for a product that has a powerful motor, a durable surface and well-designed rails.
Don't forget that some air hockey tables - usually marketed as toys - do not have the machinery to provide a cushion of air on the table, relying instead on a slick surface. That's probably fine for young kids, but if you're used to playing in an arcade you're likely to find the experience at least a little frustrating.
If, on the other hand, you think you or your kids will easily get bored of air hockey and want to play foosball, table tennis, pool or board games instead, then you might want to purchase a multi-game table.
How much space do you have?
Hardly any space? You'll most likely want a small or tabletop version of an air hockey table (don't worry if you don't have a table big enough to place it on: kids can play with it just as easily on the floor).
Hardly any space, but you want something a little bigger? Look for a foldaway table - or at least a lightweight table so that you can move it when it's not in use.
Plenty of space? Knock yourself out with a full-sized table.
An insane amount of space? Maybe speak to these guys about a life-sized air hockey rink...
How Do Air Hockey Tables Work, Anyway?
The United States Air Hockey Association are surprisingly strict about which air hockey tables are sanctioned for 'official' play: they need to be long, and you can actually see a list on their website here.
We're a little less fussy than that, but we will say this: it's not a real air hockey table without air, and that part is actually pretty simple.
A motor below the surface of the table runs a fan, which forces jets of air through the thousands of tiny holes in the table's surface with enough pressure to juuuust about lift the puck off the surface of the table.
To really get your head around the physics of air hockey tables, why not check out this suggested science project by the good people at Science Buddies?
A Brief History Of Air Hockey
1968: invention of the air table. Nobody thinks of playing any kind of hockey on it.
1969: Phil Crossman, Bob Kendrick, and Brad Baldwin - engineers working for Brunswick Billiards - begin work on creating a game using a frictionless surface. Unfortunately, unlike the surface, the project is not without friction and it stagnates for several years.
1972: Bob Lemieux, another Brunswick employee and an ice hockey fan, revives the frictionless table idea to create an abstracted version of ice hockey. The resulting air hockey game is then marketed and sold to the general public.
1973: air hockey enthusiasts begin to play in tournaments, forming first the Houston Air Hockey Association, and soon thereafter, the Texas Air-Hockey Players Association.
1974: the first ever air hockey world championship tournament is held in New York City, with a prize fund of $5000.
1975: formation of the United States Air-Table Hockey Association (USAA) by J. Phillip "Phil" Arnold, largely as an official sanctioning body to ensure uniform standards determined by players.
early 1980s: air hockey declines in popularity as coin-operated arcade games become prevalent - Phil Arnold predicts that air hockey and its players will gradually die out.
1985: Mark Robbins convinces foosball table manufacturer Dynamo Corp to begin making tournament-quality air hockey tables, successfully reviving the game.
March 2015: formation of the Air Hockey Players Association (AHPA).
July 2015: Colin Cummings is declared the youngest world champion in the history of air hockey.