To understand the difference between a quality and an non-quality pool table you need some education. All opinion are mine and mine only. With over 20 years experience working on many different manufactured pool tables, I hope I can enlighten your knowledge of the difference in quality.
I truly believe that North American manufactures take the time to cure the wood before the manufacturing process, and when and let the stain dry completely during all stages of the finishing process.
The slate is one of the most important parts of a pool table. The surface of the slate is planed/sanded so that the thickness and playing surface consistent through out. Many of the import tables have very incosistent slate surfaces. You can tell this when you wipe your hand over the surface of the slate, (no cloth) and fell the hills and valleys. The other important part is how they attach the staple board to the slate. I have yet to see a North America manufacture have issues with the board staying glue. See pics of import table slate on Gallery page. Import tables also have the boards at inconsistent thickness. This makes leveling the slate very difficult, and can cause the seams to seperate even if filled.
Lets talk about the frames. Give the frame wiggle and you will know what I am talking about. The way the import tables connect the frame rails together and then the leg bracket is just not as strong as it should be. Remember, the slate weighs in excess of 550 pounds.
My point is, yes most pool tables look the same, and look good, however, when you look at the details they are sub-par. I think of it like this, if you buy a Porshe for a low price because it looks good, you would be pretty happy. Then you look under the hood and notice there is no engine, what good is your purchase?
I have worked on many pool tables over the years and keep hearing, I not a pro, it's just a pool table. Well if that's the case, why buy it. I am not saying buy the top of the line pool table, all I am saying is find out what you are really buying before you buy it. I have been questions by many people who ask me questions about what they could possibly buy. Sometimes they hire me, sometimes they don't. My point is, I will answer the questions with brutle honesty not expecting you to hire me. So yes my answers are always free.