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Electronic dartboards, which are also sometimes called soft tip dartboards, are typically made out of plastic and their defining feature is their ability to keep score automatically. These dartboards come with pre-programmed games, as well as instructions on how to play them which results in a much lower learning curve than a traditional dartboard has.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when looking at electronic dartboards is that you can only use soft tip darts with them. Steel tip darts will damage the segments and electronics, quickly ruining the board and no one wants that.
As opposed to a traditional dartboard, multiplayer on soft tip dartboards is going to be limited to the number of players that the board supports. Electronic dartboards will advertise the maximum number of players that can use it at the same time and the most amount of players a dartboard will be able to support is usually 8 or 16. A more basic dartboard will typically allow for about 4 players to play at a time.
The number of players you need your dartboard to support is completely dependent on your situation. If you have a big family or tons of friends who will be playing darts on it, then look for a dartboard with greater player support. If only you and one or two other people are going to be using it frequently, then you don’t need to worry about whether or not 16 people can play at once.
Another critical thing to keep in mind is that many dart games can only support so many people. When a dartboard says it can play 50 different games and supports up to 16 players at a time, not all 50 of those games are going to be able to support 16 players. Always be sure to check the dartboard manuals if you need more information, they should list each game along with how many people can play that game so you know what you are getting. Our dartboard manuals can all be found here.
Again, the biggest difference between an electronic dart board and a steel tip dart board is the automatic scoring element. Electronic dart boards were created to completely eliminate the need for manual scoring and all of them will have some amount of games programmed into them.
Typically more expensive dartboards have more games and more features, such as multiplayer, computer players, and expanded displays. So although many electronic dart boards may look similar upon first glance, the games they come with, their player support, and their user interfaces can vary greatly.
Spider and Segments
Electronic dartboards’ segments are made from durable thermoplastic and these segments have hundreds of holes to allow darts to stick to the board. Behind these segments are sensors that get triggered when the segment is hit and that's how electronic dartboards are able to automatically score.
Again, steel tip darts will damage these components. The electronics can also be damaged if too much force is exerted on them. Many home-use dart boards have weight limits of 20 grams, but heavy-duty commercial electronic boards may allow for higher weights.
The spider of an electronic dartboard is the plastic ring that holds all of the segments in place and separates them. The spider on electronic dartboards is less of a concern than on steel tip dartboards since a dart will only stick to an electronic dartboard if it manages to hit the holes in a segment. Whereas steel tip dart boards will let a dart stick anywhere.
It’s still good to find a thin spider to reduce the risk of bounce-outs, but it’s perfectly fine to prioritize other things, like game selection and player support, when looking at electronic dartboards.
Since electronic dartboards need to have individual holes for darts to land in, the segments are larger on them when compared to steel tip dartboards. This means that the play area itself is going to be larger. The standard size for an electronic dartboard’s play area is 15.5” while a steel tip dartboard’s play area is 13.5”.
Because of the way the segments on an electronic dartboard are designed, playing with soft tip darts is much different than using steel tip darts. Steel tip darts can enter any spot on the board and can enter the board at most any angle. Soft tip darts can only land in the pre-made holes that exist on the dartboard which means they need to fly straighter or they will just deflect off the surface.
To get darts to fly straight through the air you’ll need to throw with a bit more force and this is part of why the weights on soft tip darts need to be less. Mass times acceleration equals force, so without getting too much into the math of it, increasing either the weight or the speed at which you throw a dart is going to result in more force. Increase both too much and your brand new electronic dartboard isn’t going to be very happy.
Online and Bluetooth Dartboards
There are now online dartboards that allow players to play against each other remotely. These usually pair with an app that tracks the scoring, game setup, and other settings that offline electronic dartboards have.
The obvious advantage to these boards is that they let people play together without needing to be in the same place. They also can provide more advanced stat tracking over a larger number of games, like Marks Per Round (MPR) or Points Per Dart (PPD) averages in games like Cricket and 01, which is incredibly helpful for learning what you need to improve.
The disadvantage to these boards is that they are undoubtedly always going to cost more than a regular electronic dartboard.