Air hockey tables come in all sorts of sizes, styles, and form factors. Some are regulation-sized, while others are geared more towards casual players and kids. With that in mind, ESPN made one of the best-selling smaller air hockey tables on the market in the face of the ESPN Sports air Hockey Game Table. It is cheap, versatile, super easy to set up, easy to maintain, and most importantly – super fun to play with!
Overview and Features
One of the main features of this table that has to be mentioned before we go through everything else is that it is a budget model that is filling a rather empty niche. Most air hockey tables focus on being unnecessarily huge and heavy, while completely ignoring that most people don’t have large game rooms to fit them in. This is why, for a fraction of the cost, you can get this compact table and have arguably more fun thanks to its smaller but action-packed playfield.
Design & Build Quality
The design and build quality of this table is at the same time its best and worst feature, bear with me on that one. Let’s start with the design – it is flashy and has all the traditional looks most ESPN products have. The playfield has cool graphics and a center circle that marks the place you drop the puck. On all corners, you have aluminum guards that will spare the table some wear and tear over the long run. The 6 and 7 feet versions of this table come with different colors and graphics, so make sure you also check those if you’re after a specific look for your game room!
Now, let’s discuss the build quality since it is the most polarizing topic here. While this table is undoubtedly cheaper than most other similar products on the market, I can’t excuse the mediocre build quality. There are numerous reports of the ESPN air hockey table arriving with broken parts or cracks on the mainframe. This is why you should always check your package before you accept it, as you can easily get a faulty model.
Still, once set up, the table is fairly sturdy and the durability is decent, especially if it’s only played by kids. There are 4-inch leg levelers on all sides that provide good amounts of balance and are easy to adjust. The playfield aprons are also reinforced and there are top rails to make the construction even more durable in the long run. Speaking of setting it up…
Like most other kids’ air hockey tables this one is quite easy to install on your own. It doesn’t weigh a lot and can be easily transported to any inside room of your house. It also isn’t too bulky, making it even easier to install by one or two people.
Apart from the (fairly) easy setup process, one thing that absolutely rubs me the wrong way is that to have the table professionally installed you have to pay almost 50% of the table’s price on top of it. This doesn’t sound great and can make the table way more expensive than it should be, so make sure you order it without assembly, as it is a waste of money.
The performance of this table is decent if you take the price into consideration. The blower motor is nowhere near as powerful as the motors in the more expensive air hockey tables. It does deliver most of its air equally across the playfield, though. One issue I have with it is that it can sometimes have flat spots that hinder the puck’s movement. The motor’s blowing speed also isn’t very consistent and can struggle if played for too long.
The high-gloss magnetic playfield helps with the puck sliding better but don’t expect miracles from this particular table, as it isn’t meant for professional players nor for constant use, rather for fun weekend games with the family.
Scoreboard & Accessories
The scoring system of this table is quite nice and far ahead of the manual systems on more expensive models. It keeps track of the score automatically and has two LED displays for home and away teams in the middle of the table’s frame. They are easily visible from all angles and are fairly accurate when tracking. I don’t like the fact that the table doesn’t have a manual scoring option since the LED system can always break and you’re left with no scoring option.
With the table, you get 2 pairs of pucks and paddles, meaning 4 pucks and 4 paddles. This allows for 2 vs 2 games or you can simply keep the extra pack as backup. There are two storage spots for the pucks and paddles on each side of the table. You also get two cup holders for the table.
Dimensions-wise, this table is quite practical. It can fit in most game rooms and living rooms thanks to its small form factor. It measures 65 inches in length, 37 inches in depth/width, and the top part is 6 inches thick. The combined height of the table is 45 inches and it weighs around 100 lbs which makes it more than easy to move around. The reduced weight also helps with the setup process.
The ESPN sports line of products comes with plenty of variations and this table is no exception to that rule. Apart from the basic 5-foot version, there are two more – a 6-foot table and a 7-foot one. The 6-foot table comes with a table tennis top and is quite a bit more expensive but is better-built and arguably a better value for your money, especially if you’re low on room space.
The 7-foot table comes with a LED overhead scoring system and is much better built than both the 5 and 6-foot options. It is also, however, much more expensive and a lot bulkier, making it harder to set up and get into your living room. You can get a special ESPN air hockey table cover for any of these tables which is a good touch if you plan on using the table only from time to time and want to prevent its playfield from catching dust.
Price & Warranty
In terms of the price of this table, it does come cheaper than most other compact air hockey tables. The only cheaper models are the tables geared purely for kids or the tabletop air hockey tables. For that price, there aren’t a lot of other air hockey tables that have a design that cool and a fairly decent blower motor, as well as that many well-made accessories. You also get a 1-year warranty covering the table. Just make sure that you install the table yourself, as the price for professional installation is just too high.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Excellent for kids and adults
- Great price
- Comes in different size and style variations
- Relatively easy to assemble
- Lightweight and easy to move around
- Leg levelers are easy to adjust
- Reinforced playfield aprons
- Premium blower fan
- LED electronic scorekeeper
- Comes with pucks and paddles
- The overall quality of the table isn’t stellar
- The wood bars are prone to breaking
- The blower motor isn’t consistent
- Has to be examined thoroughly upon delivery for broken parts and cracks
- The professional installation price is incredibly high
Learn how to make your air hockey slide better by visiting my detailed article on the topic here! Now, let’s see how this table stacks up against another decently-priced competitor!
ESPN Sports vs NHL Sting Ray Air Hockey Table
The NHL Sting Ray Air Hockey Table is a worthy competitor to the ESPN table for a few very good reasons. First, it features a similar table design, albeit a bit more sturdy and well-made. While the price is slightly higher, it feels as if your money is being better-spent with the NHL table. It also has an automatic scoring system and two LED displays in the middle. In fact, both tables share quite a lot of parts between them. One of the biggest advantages of the NHL table is that it is bigger in terms of its dimensions and can be played by both adults and kids, whereas the ESPN one is geared more towards kids.
Conclusion and Rating
The ESPN Sports Air Hockey Game Table is a great option for anyone who is on a tight budget and wants to get something decent for the game room. It is suitable for both kids and adults due to its practical size but it feels geared more towards kids and teenagers. The design of the table is quite unique and the blower motor and automatic scoring system with LED displays add to the playing experience.
Don’t expect anything special out of it but for that price, it is quite a good option that will allow the kids to have fun without breaking your budget. I gave it an overall score of four and a half stars mainly due to its mediocre build quality and frequent defects upon delivery.