The 9 Best Electronic Dartboards
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in April of 2016. If you have a handful of kids in your house or are smart enough to recognize that sharp objects don't mix well with friends drinking alcohol, you should consider one of these electronic dartboards. They offer all the fun of a regular board, but with plastic-tipped darts that are safe for children and the intoxicated alike. And they'll do all the tricky math for you, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 22, 2021:
There haven't been any major new releases of consumer-grade electronic dartboards recently, and all our previous selections are still great choices. In fact, we're even still impressed at the level of technology built into many of these. For example, even if you're stuck at home by yourself, models like the Gran Dash and Gran Board 3 offer online competition modes. For in-person play, the Arachnid Cricket Pro 800 is still the best wall-mounted model and the Arachnid Pro 650 the top freestanding option. Those are pretty expensive, but the Bullshooter Cricket Maxx offers high performance at a mid-range price, and the Fat Cat 727 Soft Tip is especially affordable but still easily dependable enough for years of fun.
January 08, 2020:
You can spend just a little on a simple and fun game for the kids, or you can invest a bunch in a high-performing and reliable model with replaceable parts, suitable for the most demanding dart throwers. And though they're not quite as accurate as traditional dartboards, electronic models are great additions to home game rooms if standards billiards aren;t always enough for you. The Bullshooter Reactor and Fat Cat 727 Soft Tip are good entry-level options, though they suffer a bit more from bounceback than many others, and they can also be a bit loud. The Bullshooter Cricket Maxx Costs about twice as much but is made with closer tolerances and tends to last longer without much maintenance.
The Gran Dash may seem costly at first, but it's actually pretty affordable for a model that allows for online play with users around the world. The Gran Board 3 is even more expensive, but it's a significant upgrade to the more basic models. Both Gran options take up relatively little space on the wall, for what it's worth. The Target Nexus will set you back even more cash, but it's also designed to almost eliminate bounceback while also minimizing noise; plus, it has an advanced touchscreen for in-depth control of game modes and connectivity.
If you don't need online play but still want a high-end dartboard, the Arachnid Cricket Pro 800 is one of the best choices, though the Arachnid Pro 650 is a close second and comes attached to a cabinet that offers additional game storage and prevents you from having to put holes in your wall. The DartsLive 200S, meanwhile, connects to a worldwide database of darts players to let you rank your skills against those of other players, although it doesn't let you connect to those players for one-on-one games.
Shelti Eye 2 This one's a coin-operated affair, designed to entertain pub and arcade guests. It isn't cheap, but it is reliable; it's built in a durable, vinyl-covered plywood body that is structurally sound and sure to hold up to the rigors of nearly any indoor environment without wavering or failing. shelti.com
Arachnid Galaxy 3 This high-end option from an extremely popular manufacturer isn't necessarily aimed at home users. It's pretty expensive, but it does offer exceptional reliability, replaceable components, and online play, so your venue's patrons can see how they stack up against players from all over the world. arachnid360.com
Radikal Darts iDarts This full-size, professional model is aimed squarely at bar owners, and as such has a very high price. But if you're in the market for a commercial-grade machine, it's hard to get more advanced than this one, which includes a high-contrast LED screen on top for both entertainment and scoring purposes. radikaldarts.com
A Brief History Of Darts
Today, you can still get a game of darts going in many bars around the world, although many of the old school boards have been replaced by electronic ones.
While no one knows for sure when or how the game of darts was invented, much of the evidence points to the people who are most likely to come up with a fun game to play when you're drunk: bored soldiers.
It's likely that the first darts were actually arrows, since that's what they resemble anyway and dartboards look like the targets used in archery competitions. Some believe that British soldiers would toss these darts at rotting barrels and wagons, which, when they cracked, would leave sections that could easily be used to mark different point totals.
Regardless of who started it and why, the game caught on quickly in England, and many carpenters began to pay their bar tabs by fashioning boards for taverns.
It was one of these woodworkers, a man from Lancashire named Brian Gamlin, who supposedly began to number those boards with the 20-point section at the top. The reasoning behind this was that it would penalize inaccuracy — and it was likely devised by someone who was tired of losing to lucky drunks every time.
Still, darts remained a regional diversion, and each region tended to have its own rules and board layout. Devising the optimal layout has since become a point of contention among mathematicians, but it shouldn't be too hard to find the perfect one, as there are only 121 quadrillions of possible arrangements.
The game suffered a serious setback in the early 1900s, however, when England passed legislation forbidding games of chance — which is what darts were considered — from being played in pubs. One heroic pub owner with the fantastic name of Foot Anakin challenged the law, arguing that darts is a game of skill.
To prove this, he threw three darts, planting each on the 20, and challenged court officials to do the same. No one could, and darts were granted an exemption from the law.
The thing that would make the game truly take off, though, is the same thing that helped create it in the first place: bored soldiers. It was a popular diversion for British servicemen in both World Wars, and many veterans continued to play it in pubs when they returned home.
Several governing bodies began to spring up, each offering their own competitions and championships. Some of these even garnered heavy television coverage, and dart contests are still popular programming in England.
Today, you can still get a game of darts going in many bars around the world, although many of the old school boards have been replaced by electronic ones. The important thing, though, is that it's one of the few games that you can play even while blackout drunk.
Benefits Of An Electric Dartboard
If you've ever tried playing darts in a crowded bar, then you're probably already familiar with one of the biggest benefits of electronic boards: they make it much harder to lose an eye.
It's not just eyes and skin that will be safe from accidental punctures, either — your walls will also thank you.
Since most electronic models use darts with soft plastic tips instead of pointy steel, there's less likely to be an injury in the case of an errant throw. Not only does that make them a smarter choice for the alcohol-fueled, but it also makes them more suitable for kids, ensuring that the game can be fun for the whole family.
It's not just eyes and skin that will be safe from accidental punctures, either — your walls will also thank you. If you use steel-tipped darts on a board hung on drywall or wood, you can expect to see many perforations where someone's attempt went awry. That's not an issue with plastic tips.
Many of these boards also score the game automatically, saving you from having to keep tally as you go while also making things easier to grasp for beginners. This can be helpful in preventing arguments — which is something you need to consider if you're around kids or alcoholics.
If you've only ever played regular darts, you might think that switching to an electronic board is heresy. If that's the case, you should probably stick to your old-fashioned board — because once you switch, you may not want to go back.
Taking Your Game To The Next Level
Being good at darts takes time and practice, but it's a great way to make a few bucks — or win a few drinks — at your local pub. Here are a few tips to help you get better fast.
Your grip is the most important part of your game. Hold the dart firmly but lightly — no death grips allowed, as having too much tension in your fingers can make it hard to release the dart fluidly. Try to make sure that the tip is pointing up at each stage of your throw as well.
Being good at darts takes time and practice, but it's a great way to make a few bucks — or win a few drinks — at your local pub.
Use at least three fingers when you hold it. You can use more if you like, as that can improve your control, but you do so at the risk of altering the dart's flight upon letting go. Whichever fingers you're not using should be spread and kept well away from the shaft of the dart.
Next, take a look at your stance (don't do this in the middle of a throw). You want to keep one foot forward and try to make sure that your dominant eye, the dart, and the target are all in a line.
Put most of your weight on that forward foot, and use the back one primarily for balance. If someone can easily knock you over while you're in your stance, it needs more work (and you need to find a safer bar). You can lean forward as well, as this brings you closer to your target, but don't let your weight get too far in front of your center of gravity.
Take some time to practice and experiment until you find the stance and grip that work best for you, and keep playing until you're satisfied you can hit the bull's eye every time.
Then drink until you see at least two of them.