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There are a few different kinds of dartboards out there, with the two most common ones being the traditional bristle version and the newer electronic version. So, what is the difference between these two? What are their advantages and drawbacks? Which one is right for you?
By the end of the day, we hope to have answered all of these questions for you, so you can make the best choice to suit your needs and preferences.
Electronic and Traditional Bristle Dartboards: The Basics
Before we get into talking about the pros and cons of bristle and electronic dartboards, let’s first figure out exactly what each of them is.
Although the word bristle is present in the name of this item, this type of dartboard is actually made out of either sisal or hemp, usually sisal. The sisal material fixes itself after a dart hits it, thus securing the dart to the board until it is removed. What is really important to note about this type of dartboard is that the darts do not actually penetrate the sisal strands, but instead, they squeeze in between the threads or fibers and get wedged into the board.
In other words, the sisal is not penetrated by darts, but rather is parted and then pinches the dart in place. When it comes to the darts, these usually feature bodies made of brass or tungsten, with steel, tungsten, or silver tips that are very sharp and can cause serious damage. These darts also need to be resharpened every now and then.
Although you can find very expensive professional quality traditional bristle dartboards that cost a whole lot, there are also many beginner options out there that are very affordable. For the most part, professional and diehard dart players will always choose a bristle dartboard, if for no other reason than because it is the original type of dartboard.
As you can probably guess by the name of them, electronic dartboards are either plugged in or use batteries to function. One big advantage that many people like with these dartboards is that they have the ability to keep score on their own. Another cool thing is that electronic dartboards often let you play against a computer.
In terms of how they are made, electronic dartboards are generally made out of plastic, especially the cheaper ones, although they can also be made out of sisal, hemp, wood, paper, straw, and other similar materials.
Keep in mind that if a relatively soft material is used, which is usually the case on the pricier electronic dartboards, the darts are also wedged in between the fibers when the dart hits. However, on many of the cheaper models made of plastic, there is a series of holes that the dart must be thrown into to get the dart to stick on the board.
The Pros and Cons of Electronic Dartboards
Now that we know what electronic dartboards are, let’s take a look at their pros and cons.
Advantage #1: You Can Play Against a Computer
Electronic dartboards are perfect for single players because the higher-end ones come complete with a computer player that you can play against, thus eliminating the need to have more humans around you. They make for good solo practice.
Advantage #2: There Are Many Games to Play
Although you can play plenty of games on a normal or traditional dartboard, you have to know how to play them and you have to keep track of everything on your own. Electronic dartboards on the other hand often come with many games pre-loaded onto them, which definitely makes life easier, and a bit more fun as well.
Advantage #3: They Keep Score for You
One of the absolute biggest selling points of electronic dartboards is that they automatically keep score. When a dart hits the board, the sensors behind those little holes or behind the playing surface will register that hit and automatically tally it up. Moreover, these dartboards have the ability to perform scorekeeping based on the game being played.
Advantage #4: Automatic Handicapping
Most electronic dartboards will automatically allow you to set handicaps, enter new players, remember players, and so much more. After all, it is more or less a dartboard with a computer inside of it.
Advantage #5: They Are Portable
Most electronic dartboards, due to the materials they are made of, tend to be quite lightweight, which makes them portable. The battery-powered models are particularly portable.
Advantage #6: They Come in Various Sizes
Another big advantage is that electronic dartboards usually come in various sizes, as opposed to traditional bristle boards that usually only come in the standard 15.5-inch size. It’s a good option if you want either a smaller or a larger dartboard.
Advantage #7: They Allow for Easier Scoring
The other big advantage here is that beginners may find it easier to score doubles and triples, as those areas tend to be a bit bigger than on a traditional board.
Disadvantage #1: Their Durability Is Limited
The first disadvantage of electronic dartboards is that they have limited durability. Many of the materials used to make these boards are far less durable than those used for traditional boards. Moreover, those electronics, mainly the sensors that register good hits, can malfunction. Computers are great, but they can malfunction.
Disadvantage #2: They Require Power
Electronic dartboards need to be plugged in or have batteries. If they don’t have power, they cannot be used.
Disadvantage #3: Darts Often Bounce-Out
Although modern electronic dartboards have improved in this sense, they often still suffer from bounce-out, which is when the dart hits the board but does not stick. It can be difficult to get those darts into those little holes.
Disadvantage #4: Plastic Darts Are Not the Best
The plastic-tipped darts used with these boards are lightweight, they don’t fly all that well, and they aren’t too durable either.
Disadvantage #5: They Are Not Ideal for Professional Use
If you plan on training for professional play, an electronic dartboard is not ideal. It just doesn’t accurately recreate the feel and gameplay of a traditional board.
Disadvantage #6: They Can Be Costly
Electronic dartboards, due to the integration of electronic components and software, do usually cost quite a bit of money.
The Pros and Cons of Traditional Bristle Dartboards
Now that we know what the pros and cons of electronic dartboards are, let’s do the same for traditional dartboards.
Advantage #1: They Are Durable
This type of dartboard is much more durable, which is due to the better materials used to make them, as well as the fact that there are no electronics that can wear down and malfunction.
Advantage #2: Darts Don’t Bounce-Out
The sisal used in these dartboards is extremely good at allowing the darts to stick, much better than on electronic dartboards.
Advantage #3: They Use Real Darts
The fact that these dartboards use real steel-tipped darts is another pro. These darts fly faster and straighter, they are easier to aim with, and they hit harder too.
Advantage #4: They Are Ideal for Professional Practice
This is the only kind of dartboard to use if you are practicing for professional play.
Advantage #5: They Look Great
Bristle dartboards, although they may not be flashy like the electronic kind, tend to have a more traditional and classy aesthetic. They just look nice.
Advantage #6: They Tend to Be Cheaper
Although you can find super expensive bristle dartboards, the cheaper ones are less expensive than low-end electronic dartboards.
Disadvantage #1: They Are Sensitive to UV light and Moisture
One downside here is that the sisal fabric can degrade over a long period of time when exposed to lots of light and moisture.
Disadvantage #2: They Lack Automatizations
Simply put, there is nothing electronic on traditional dartboards, so say goodbye to any electronically-related feature. In other words, you will need to keep track of the score yourself.
Disadvantage #3: They Fade Over Time
The coloring on the sisal can fade over time, which is not a deal-breaker, but certainly not a bonus either.
Electronic vs. Traditional Bristle Dartboard: Which One Should You Get?
If you are just messing around, you want to have fun, to have access to games, and not have to worry about keeping score, it’s an electronic dartboard you want to go for.
However, if you want something durable, cost-effective, and good-looking that does not suffer from bounce-out and is ideal for professional use, then there is no other way to go than a traditional dartboard.
Are There Any Other Types of Dartboards?
There are a few other types of dartboards out there, although they are not nearly as popular. Some of the other types include cork, magnetic, and wooden dartboards. For more details, read this article.
As you can see, both electronic and traditional dartboards have their pros and cons. Which one you choose really depends on your needs and your preferences.