As a dartboard enthusiast, I have tried using both traditional and electronic dartboards for years, and I am confident enough to pinpoint the factors that indicate the “quality” of a dartboard.
So, are electronic dartboards any good? According to surveys, most professional and experienced dart players prefer to use traditional boards over electronic ones. But for children, electronic boards are the best because they are paired with soft-tip darts, which are safer for inexperienced players.
What are Electronic Dartboards?
Basically, electronic dartboards are used in the same way as traditional dartboards. However, the main differences revolve around its material, the kind of darts used, sizes, prices, and ease of use. Some electronic dart boards come in vibrant led lights, while some may also look like the regular ones but less brittle and larger.
Electronic ones also have plenty of features most regular ones don’t have— which children and aspiring dart players usually love. Nevertheless, it will always be a matter of safety, convenience, level of mastery, and preference. To understand how “good” an electronic dartboard really is and to weigh on its unique qualities better, I have to compare them to traditional ones.
Traditional vs. Electronic Dartboard: Which is Better?
Personally, I think electronic dartboards are really cool, considering their modern features, designs, and ease of use. However, I do not represent the choice of the majority. There are thousands of experienced dart players like me who believe otherwise.
Again, choosing one over the other is always a matter of preference, level of mastery, and safety. So, there is no direct answer to this question if you are asking a wide range of dart players who play in a different environment and have different experiences.
As a dartboard player myself, I admit that both dart boards have their own pros and cons. But according to my experience, one may have more pros than the other. Thus, to outline the positives and negatives of each type of dartboard, we will be categorizing these descriptions based on the factors that indicate and measure how good that dartboard really is.
Bristle boards are structured with a fifteen-and-a-half-inch playing area and an eighteen-inch diameter. This is considered the standard for international dart tournaments. Meaning to say, the same dartboard players play at home should be the same dartboard they’ll play on when they enter a dart tournament.
In this case, traditional darts are better because if a player has been accustomed to it, they can perform better during tournaments, as this has something to do with their muscle memory. Therefore, shifting from Bristol to electronic boards might only alter their positioning and compromise their performance.
Electronic dartboards are structured with different target areas from thirteen inches to fifteen and a half inches. So, you should be informed about which target spot you are getting before finalizing a purchase. Fifteen and a half inches electronic dartboard is the standard measurement for tournaments.
So, if you are planning to enter tournaments, you should know what electronic dartboard size you should buy. The scoring spot is also one of the noticeable differences between bristle and electronic dartboards. The scoring part for the double and treble is slightly larger on electronic boards, making them easier to target. Those who shift from traditional to electronic boards will find the game easier, while those who shift from electronic to traditional boards will find the game harder.
Traditional or bristle dartboards are more durable than electronic dartboards because they’re partly composed of sisal fibers. And because sisal fibers are self-healing, it enables the dartboard to last longer. Players often rotate the positioning of the numbers on their traditional dartboards. So, the steel-tip darts will not only hit one area repeatedly, which contributes to the maintenance of the dartboard.
These dartboards have various stories to tell in terms of durability. Some electronic dartboard owners complain about the malfunctioning of this board after several months. Particularly, they complain about seeing the screens getting stuck out of nowhere and many other concerns. Most players, especially those who are taking this game seriously for the upcoming tournament, would never want to experience such problems.
A bounce-out happens when a player throws a dart into a dartboard, and instead of pinning on its surface, it falls off. This situation occurs on both boards. On traditional dartboards, bounce-outs are caused by the metal lines dividing the treble and double scoring area from the single scoring part. The general idea of bounce-outs on traditional boards is not that much of a concern. It is just annoying for players every time it happens.
Bounce-outs were a big issue for electronic boards before considering how the board’s surface was previously structured with small puncture holes as sensors— and this is the opposite of traditional dartboards where darts can core in any area. However, electronic dartboards have already evolved today. The most recent design is no longer causing a significant rate of bounce-outs for electronic dartboard users.
The popular opinion
The overall idea in dart communities is that a traditional board is generally better because it is the standard. Also, the dart communities have always been dominated by highly experienced and die-hard dart fans who have been accustomed to using traditional boards for decades.
The use of soft-tip darts only began in 1975, so no one can really blame why steel-tip dart players still dominate the community today. Moreover, these players have dominated the darts competition in the upper echelon. The WDF and BDO top tournaments only recognize and use steel-tip darts, which are paired with traditional boards.
So, there is no specific cause why most dart community players prefer traditional boards over electronic ones. For example, a dart player who’s used to playing with steel-tip darts may prefer to stick with that choice forever because it makes him feel like an ancient warrior when he plays. He is more thrilled by the sound it makes as soon as the dart lands on the bristle board. It gives his game a lot more “serious” vibe as opposed to electronic dartboards.
This one player will influence the preference of the others, making traditional boards seemingly more preferable than electronic boards. Thus, the reasons are not sophisticated; it merely supports the old-age idea that most humans make choices based on emotions rather than logic.
These dartboards don’t record your scores for you and your opponent. It’s either you do it yourself or ask someone else to do it for you. The scorer should be very careful and should pay close attention to the game. In tournaments, the scorer has an official game name called chalcker, and they play a very important role throughout the event.
A lot of supporters of traditional dartboards encourage the manual scoring system because they are already used to it. Counting has always been an essential part of the game, especially when the players are trained and experienced. They know that they have to be attentive and aware of their score throughout the game so that in case the manual scoring system fails, they can always have backup information.
If you are an experienced dart player, you surely would prefer to take note of your score yourself instead of relying on the electronic dartboard’s accuracy. Even if the board can calculate your scores for you, there’s still a chance that you’ll keep your scores in mind for reassurance. However, new dart players are getting used to the automated calculating system of electronic dartboards.
One of the key features of electronic boards is that they monitor and record your scores for you. No wonder why new generation enthusiasts find them more user-friendly than the bristle boards. This is also one of the reasons why electronic dart boards were invented by a US-based machine shop owner in 1975.
The shop owner’s name is Rudy Allison. He was in Ireland when he played darts using a bristle dartboard with his friends. During that time, he noticed that their game was always interrupted due to scorekeeping concerns. He was shocked that nobody ever thought about automating the scoring system before. Thus, when he went back to the US, he worked on the idea and made it come to reality.
Some dart games will require you to play with at least one person only, while some will also require you to play with two or more players. If you have bristle boards, you can enjoy playing darts with as many players as you want. You don’t have to outcast a peer or family member just because the game’s rules are limited to a specific number of players.
Some people would even bring their bristle boards in a bar to compete with other art enthusiasts. The point here is that bristle dartboards will invite as many people as you want in a game. The limitation only depends on the kind of dart game you are playing because you have to follow its rules.
Finding your opponent has been made easier with electronic dartboards. Most of these modern boards come with high functionality in order to allow their players to play against a computer— of course, with varying difficulty levels.
Even the most recent designs of electronic boards have online applications that allow players to connect with and play against other dart enthusiasts from all over the world. Thus, a player does not have to bring their electronic dartboards to a pub or bar just to make connections with other dart players. One can already do it in the comforts of their home.
How to Find the Best Electronic Dartboard?
Now that you already know about the key features of an electronic dartboard and how it exceeds the usability of traditional boards from a subjective perspective, you might be asking how to find the best electronic dartboards. An electronic dartboard is undeniably an interesting way to introduce darts to new players.
These electronic boards are safer for family and kids darting environments. Nevertheless, this can also be a great option for serious players. The extra value of entertainment has triggered the growth and popularity of electronic dartboards in the market.
So, it is easy to find these in various shops and settings such as in professional tournaments, dorm rooms, finished basements, bars, and other entertainment centers. However, it can also be difficult to settle on the most practical and usable dartboard for your darting space with the many available options.
But all you need to look for are the important qualities you must find in an electronic dartboard, such as its durability, affordability, practicality, bounce-out rates, and the number of dart games you play with it. Some electronic dartboards have 3-level heckle features (which some players love). In contrast, others have a big scoring interface displaying up to four players’ scores on its 6-inch screen.
Some of them also allow you to compete against a maximum of 16 players, while others can also allow you to compete against a computer at five different levels. You will also love those electronic boards that will enable you to connect with players from the other side of the globe through an online application. Most of these dartboards use batteries, are easy to mount, and are lightweight.
Electronic dartboards are great for beginners but can also be suitable for professionals. They can be more convenient for casual players as they are safer and have an easier scoring method. So, if you want to purchase one, there are actually plenty of choices available in the market today.
Choosing the best one can be a demanding task, but you can definitely land on one as long as you know how to weigh your options. Due to its increasing popularity, it is becoming almost impossible to stay updated on their new and additional features.