Review: BenQ LK936ST
BenQ takes a swing at the golf sim market with a primo 4K, 5100 lumen projector with a colour-enhancement Golf Mode.
Review:/ Christopher Holder
Playing a round of golf was one of the few pleasures still available to us during most of the pandemic, but interestingly, virtual golf blew up as well.
I’m not referring to Wii golf in the rumpus room. I’m talking about next-level golf simulation spaces in converted garages, home cinemas, basements and spare rooms. It’s not an insignificant investment in time and money, but during Covid, time and money were precisely the commodities many had in spades!
GREAT SHORT GAME
Putting together a golf sim requires, at the very least, a beefy PC, the game software, a ball-tracking sensor and a short-throw projector.
BenQ was quick to identify the emerging market and makes a strong pitch. Leading its charge is the LK936ST; it’s a 4K, short-throw, one-chip DLP laser projector.
So what makes a good golfing sim projector? Well, mostly the same things that make any installation projector great… perhaps with a few special technical herbs and spices.
Firstly, the projector needs to be short throw. Certainly, the simulation space has to be large enough to swing a golf club, but generally there will be space restraints. Your projector will ideally be up and out of the way, not casting a shadow but casting a large image. The LK936ST will give you a generous 150-inch image from about three metres away.
There’s plenty of lens shift available as well to assist with installation flexibility: up to 60% vertically and 23% horizontally, relative to the size of the screen. It means you can shoe horn the LK936ST into most spaces without apparent distortion of the image.
The next performance proviso is brightness. The LK936ST is rated at 5100 ANSI lumens. It’s a bright unit that will hold its own even when competing with some ambient light.
The BenQ offering is a 4K unit. (The LK936ST use TI’s DLP470TP digital micromirror device, which is capable of 4K at 60Hz using a single direction modulation to realise all 8.3 million pixels.) Admittedly, 4K is still somewhat of a luxury — maybe it doesn’t need to be 4K, and 4K pushes the price of any projector up considerably — but that extra resolution sure helps. The better golf sim software packages use 4K graphics and when you’re standing only three metres from a projection of the 18th at Augusta, seeing the rhododendron petals flickering in the summer breeze — it’s something to behold.
This projector is a highly capable cinematic projector with golf sim leanings. It uses a dual colour wheel system to cover 92% of the Rec.709 gamut, for rich saturated colours with lots of contrast.
If you thought the LK936ST was simply a home cinema projector with a golf sim badge slapped on it by the marketing department, then think again. Say hello to ‘Golf Mode’. Switch the projector from Presentation mode to Golf mode and you’ll instantly notice more vivid greens and blues in your simulation software. When you think about it, greens and blues are crucial in presenting golf action, and BenQ has you covered. Could you achieve Golf Mode by tweaking the settings yourself. Sure. But BenQ has done the work for you.
BenQ LK936ST Features
- 5100 lumens
- Short throw with Large H/V Lens Shift
- REC.709 92% for accurate colour reproduction
- Golf Mode for more vivid greens and blues
- S/PDIF 5.1 Pass Thru
- Filter-free IPX5 dust proofing for low maintenance
- 3D keystone and corner fit
TEEING UP RESOLUTION
It’s still comparatively early days for 4K projection. In DLP world, it’s one thing to have a DMD chip that makes it possible, but it’s another to have the optics that will allow you to properly enjoy all 8.3 million pixels. If you’re going to ask the optics to do a short-throw, geometrically distorted magic trick, the level of difficult rises again. The BenQ optics are up to the challenge.
In summary, this isn’t a stereotypical 5000-lumen workhorse that gets rolled out 50 at a time to meeting rooms at a large university; it’s way more exclusive than that, and priced accordingly (not much change out of A$9000).
That said, it’s still more cost effective than the equivalent LCD or LED (even if it were possible to ‘thwack the agate’ at an LCD or LED screen).
Private golf sims are now a big deal; consumers are happy to pony-up for a superior experience; and BenQ is well positioned to meet the challenge. As are AV installers, as this kind of installation is going to be beyond the capabilities of most customers — especially now they’ve got to leave their sour dough mother behind and return to the office.
Is BenQ’s ‘Golf Mode’ enough to make the LK936ST a defacto golf sim standard? Perhaps not, but it does demonstrate that the Taiwanese electronics giant has done its homework and understands the demands of this lucrative vertical.