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How to pick the right projector for your golf simulator setup

A helpful guide to help you to choose between the best BenQ and Panasonic golf simulator projector models

Bob Wudeck

In 2020, the market for golf simulators exploded as the newest cameras and projectors enabled people stuck in their homes to easily convert bedrooms and basements into St. Andrews and Augusta National.  Panasonic and BenQ are the most popular projector brands that develop projectors for golf simulators – which are used by professionals and amateurs around the world.   But which model is right for your setup – and budget?  

The good news is that with the right projector – you now have the opportunity to play Pebble Beach on a huge screen for the ultimate simulation experience –at a fraction of the cost just a few years ago.  But since both brands offer projectors with both traditional projector lamps and the latest laser light technology, what should you be looking for when evaluating the best projector for your simulation space?   Here are four key factors to consider:

  • WUXGA vs. 4K UHD Resolution
  • Traditional projector lamps or laser engine
  • Sealed Engine Design vs. Open Design with Paper Filters
  • Color Accuracy specifications
Best Panasonic and BenQ projector models for golf simulators

For a high-end golf simulator setup, the 5000 lumen Panasonic PT-VZ580U lamp projector is one of the most popular models used for simulation setups with larger impact screens for the last couple of years.   With 75 different projector models, BenQ is the leading projector brand in the world using DLP technology, and both companies have outstanding reputations for high quality, reliable projectors.  For mainstream higher-end simulators, here are the most popular golf simulator projectors from Panasonic and BenQ:

  • Panasonic PT-VZ580U
  • BenQ LU710
  • BenQ LU951ST
  • BenQ LK953ST

Here are the key areas you may want to consider when selecting the right projector for your setup:

Consideration #1 – WUXGA or 4K Resolution

Both the BenQ and Panasonic models are designed to display their images on a large impact screen – typically 100 inches or larger.  For golf simulators, the larger your screen – the more important resolution is for you to see the details. This is especially important on 4K enabled Foresight, TruGolf, and other simulators that enable putting.  While the Panasonic PT-VZ580U, BenQ LU710, and LU951ST have WUXGA resolution with 2.3 million pixels, the BenQ LK953ST model has 4K UHD resolution with a whopping 8.3 million pixels.   Although it is more expensive, this projector is the only one that can enable you to see all of the minute detail on the course generated from your 4K simulator software and generates the most realism.  On a 100 inch or larger impact screen, the difference between 2.3 and 8.3 million pixels is amazing.    One other benefit of the 4K is that it will enable your impact screen to double as an amazing home theater for movies or watching the Masters in true 4K resolution.

Consideration #2 – Traditional Lamp or Laser Light source

5000 lumen golf simulator projectors rack up a lot of hours over the years, and tend to have shorter lamp life.  The Panasonic model has a 5000 hour rated lamp life and will start losing brightness after the first few hundred hours.  For golf simulators, there are several advantages that BenQ laser projectors have over the Panasonic lamp projectors.   Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • 20,000-hour lamp life – assuming a street price of $350 for Panasonic replacement lamps, the BenQ laser can save as much as $1400 over the life of the projector
  • Instant On & Off – A laser projector is ready to go in a couple of seconds after you turn it on
  • Higher color accuracy – lasers provide higher color accuracy  - more on that below

For years, lasers were much more expensive than lamp-based projectors, but today, a BenQ LU710 laser projector costs about the same as the Panasonic PT-VZ580U lamp projector – and can save you the hassle of buying and installing replacement lamps

Consideration #3 – Maintenance Free vs. cleaning filters

Most people using a simulator want to focus on the course – not maintaining the projector.  So while the Panasonic PT-VZ580U has lamps that need to be maintained, it also has filters that have to be kept clean to keep the lamp cool.   The problem – if the “Clean filter” light comes on during your game of “Wolf” – all play stops until a new filter is put in – or the existing filter is washed and then dried.  

 By contrast, the projectors BenQ has designed for golf simulators use a sealed laser engine – which doesn’t require a filter.  Because it uses DLP technology, the projector can be cooled using the same technology used in Macbooks and other types of displays.  BenQ tests these models using an industry-standard IP5X certification to ensure that the projector will operate even when dusty.

Consideration #4 – Color Accuracy

If you want the same bold and dynamic colors on your projector screen as on your monitor, then you need to look at the color accuracy of the projector.  This ensures that your fairways look realistic, and not like a Nintendo game. The best way to ensure this is to look at the color accuracy measurements of your projector.  BenQ provides the exact specification of the color accuracy using the industry-standard specifications such as Rec.709.  Every BenQ golf simulator laser projector delivers 92% or higher Rec.709 color accuracy – which is also ideal for home theater use.

But how much does a good golf simulator projector cost?

While you can find many lamp-based models with the right throw ratio for under $1000, including BenQ models, the better golf simulation projectors cost between $1500 and $5000.   Compared to the cost of the camera and impact screen, this is one of the less expensive components – but can make a big difference in how your simulator looks, plays – and how much the room is used for watching Tin Cup, live or recorded tournaments, and streaming golf content in 4K resolution.  Here is a breakdown of the cost and features of the four models mentioned in this article that have the right throw ratios for golf simulation placement.  All projector pricing data comes from projectorcentral.com, and lamp prices are from staples.com.

  BenQ LU710 BenQ LU951ST BenQ LK953ST Panasonic PT-VZ580U
 
Brightness
BenQ LU710
4,000 lumens
BenQ LU951ST
5,000 Lumens
BenQ LK953ST
5,000 Lumens
Panasonic PT-VZ580U
5,000 Lumens
 
Resolution
BenQ LU710
WUXGA
BenQ LU951ST
WUXGA
BenQ LK953ST
4k UHD
Panasonic PT-VZ580U
WUXGA
 
# of Pixels
BenQ LU710
2.1 million
BenQ LU951ST
2.1 million
BenQ LK953ST
8.3 million
Panasonic PT-VZ580U
2.1 million
 
Lamp Type
BenQ LU710
Laser
BenQ LU951ST
Laser
BenQ LK953ST
Laser
Panasonic PT-VZ580U
Lamp
 
Lamp Life
BenQ LU710
20,000 hours
BenQ LU951ST
20,000 hours
BenQ LK953ST
20,000 hours
Panasonic PT-VZ580U
5,000 hours
 
Est. Lamp Cost
BenQ LU710
N/A
BenQ LU951ST
N/A
BenQ LK953ST
N/A
Panasonic PT-VZ580U
$350
 
Filter-Free
BenQ LU710
Yes
BenQ LU951ST
Yes
BenQ LK953ST
Yes
Panasonic PT-VZ580U
No
 
Color Accuracy
BenQ LU710
92% Rec.709
BenQ LU951ST
92% Rec.709
BenQ LK953ST
92% Rec.709
Panasonic PT-VZ580U
Not Specified
 
Est. Street Price
BenQ LU710
$1,699
BenQ LU951ST
$4,799
BenQ LK953ST
$5,499
Panasonic PT-VZ580U
$1,599

Want to talk to a Golf Simulation Projector expert?

BenQ has trained staff that can provide you the tools you need to find the perfect golf simulator projector – within your room constraints and budget.   Just give us a call at 888-818-5888.

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