Most dart players – especially those in the UK and mainland Europe – will be most accustomed to playing darts the “traditional way”. This means steel tip darts played on a bristle dartboard.
When you look at darts in the US and Asia though (which is now incredibly popular and growing each year), you’ll find that the dartboard of choice is the electronic dartboard. Historically, these have been poor-quality dartboards mainly used in arcades and not for serious players.
Fast forward to the present day though and the increased popularity along with advancements in darts technology means that these boards are now mass-produced and provide serious competition for a bristle dartboard.
Are electronic dartboards any good though? Read on as we look to answer that very question…
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What Are Electronic Dartboards
The game of darts has grown from just playing in your local club or pub to a global phenomenon. It’s now played all over the world and with it has given rise to the alternative methods of enjoying the game and the electronic dartboard is one of those.
Developed in the U.S these boards have become immensely popular and have lots of built-in functions, features, and gadgets to keep every aspiring pro and even those casual darts players happy.
So what is the main difference between these boards and the traditional bristle board? the biggest difference is because they are electric and are mains operated you cannot use steel-tipped darts as they would damage the circuits of the board and it wouldn’t operate as intended. This is what brought rise instead to soft tip darts.
Soft tip darts are designed to stay in the board by slotting into tiny receptors or holes in the board, where they are immediately registered by the circuitry and your score recorded – there’s no need for chalk here!
Whilst traditionalists of the game might be appalled at these all singing and dancing new neighbors on the block, the truth is they offer a bright, new, easy and fun way into the game and as they develop in terms of technology, they are becoming much more aligned with modern/traditional darts.
Whilst some look like something from an amusement arcade, others are very in keeping with the traditional look of a board and try to aesthetically appeal to the regular darts players, and as such, soft-tipped darts have become extremely efficient and developed to a very high standard to recreate the game for the purists.
The big producers of traditional boards have also come to terms with the increasing popularity of electronic dartboards, so much so that UK-based brands Winmau and Unicorn amongst others, have developed their own boards in line with the current trend.
Are Electronic Dartboards Any Good
Electronic dartboards are great for beginners and large groups to learn and play the game of darts. They are not used as much for competition and are instead preferred for casual play so are a good option for most homes. Automatic scoring, a well-lit system, and multiple features all make electronic dartboards a very popular option.
The above is a bit of a generalization so read on to see the benefits and main reason for wanting or using an electronic dartboard.
5 Benefits of Using an Electronic Dartboard
1. Easy to Use
So how easy are these boards to use, the answer simply is incredibly easy!
The boards have built-in circuitry which will register your darts as they hit the board and automatically adjust your score accordingly. There’s no need for chalk, pens, or pieces of paper, as they all have interactive scoreboards which will show your current score or position in the game.
Some boards will require some sort of programming, though that doesn’t imply any sort of mathematical genius, it just means because the boards can accommodate many different formats of the game and lots of players at once, you may need to select certain games or add names to the board, some boards are even voice-activated and will read out your score, like having a private referee!
2. Safe for Children
The electronic board is a much safer option for children and beginner players learning the game in as much that they use the soft tip darts over the heavier and significantly sharper steel tip variants.
As a result, there is less chance of accidents or damage when throwing, but these are not toys so it’s important to stress, that you follow the same safety procedures you would on a normal board.
3. Will Automatically Calculate Scores
As we have previously mentioned, the electronic dartboard does all the work for you, minus throwing the darts themselves though some boards do have a computer player mode…
They are developed to such a high standard with state of the art circuitry that it doesn’t matter how many players there are, they can not only accommodate them but be able to configure each individuals score and so save an awful lot of time (and mistakes) this, in turn, keeps the game flowing and stops the boredom threshold for players between shots.
There’s also the saving you make in terms of having the built-in scoreboard factored into the initial price. Counting scores and tracking them is not easy for most dart players – it’s one of the reasons why so many people wonder if all dart players need to be good at maths?
Buying a standalone dart scorer though can be quite expensive. These scorers are much more than calculators as they not only calculate each score but will do so for all players and provide additional information like dart averages. For this reason, they can be surprisingly costly!
Therefore, having these automatically built into electronic dartboards mean you have an excellent feature whilst also saving money.
4. Interactive and Fun
As these boards keep developing and evolving, their popularity increases and draws new players to the game.
For many, whilst darts on TV are immensely popular (averaging 1 million viewers for the final of the PDC World Championship), it can feel like a million miles away from reality for many who would like to play for fun rather than serious competition.
So, these electronic boards offer different options to make the game, faster and more fun with many variations that younger players in particular, though by no means just those, will appreciate.
The boards are bright and engaging, some have amazing lighting and commentator voices or announcements whilst others have more advanced functionality like syncing up to an app for online play!
With all these features, they are so user-friendly that they are great for use at parties, pubs, or clubs where a lot of players want to be involved and the fast frenetic pace means no one waits long before throws and the list of different games options is mind-boggling on particular boards.
The key benefit then is that they don’t just cater to the hardcore darts player but also to a more casual player wanting to enjoy the game for fun rather than competition. These dartboards provide just that and this is a primary reason why darts are becoming more popular globally.
5. Increased Popularity
The game of darts is now a global market, not confined to the darts hotbed of the home countries of Europe and this is especially the case in North America and Asia where Electronic dartboards are more common than the traditional bristle board.
The U.S first saw the board had a place in the darts world many decades ago, but needed something more exciting for its players than the old traditional and slower version. They, therefore, developed something that would be played more quickly and by more players and used new electronic hardware to influence the play, by adding lights and features.
Over time the game expanded to the far east, a huge market in terms of players but also innovation and electronic circuitry.
The huge rise in popularity has meant the increasing ability of players to bridge the gap in darting terms to play on the professional circuit and in turn increase TV audiences in those countries. There would seem to be no end to the ever-evolving electronic dartboard now that it can be played online to host competitions so the popularity is only expected to increase over the next decade.
Electronic dartboards are still a relatively new product and for this reason, they are not quite as popular for those used to the more traditional steel tip, bristle board variation. If, however, you’re interested in these electronic variations, you’ll be pleased to know that the quality has increased massively in recent years.
Modern electronic dartboards have premium functionality such as Bluetooth for online play, built-in scoreboards with multiple game modes, and dart average tracking and are designed to withstand years of play without losing quality. This means that overall, electronic dartboards are now a great option!
If you’ve been reading this with an interest in getting your own electronic dartboard, we’d definitely recommend checking out our dedicated overview of the best electronic dartboard on the market. On this list, we include the most popular options, budget electronic dartboards, and even some professional-level options.