What’s The Best Projector for a Flight Simulator?

Would you use monitors to play or view a flight simulator game or program? Unless you’re extremely rich, that’s an impractical thing to do. Instead, it’s more affordable to invest in several projectors and projection screens. This way, you can get screens large enough to simulate what it’s like flying a huge commercial plane or a small two-seat bi-plane with the sky surrounding your vision in three “window” panels. Like in the case of movie-viewing, monitors have more brightness and clarity but projectors can project on bigger screens for better flight simulator immersion. 

We specifically recommend the ViewSonic 1080p Short Throw Projector for the job of being the absolute best projector for your flight simulator needs. After all, it’s a DLP (Digital Light Processing) short-throw projector with 3,000 lumens of brightness and low input lag. It’s specifically designed not only for home theater viewing but also for gaming, which is kind of what you’re doing when training on a flight simulator. This is as opposed to an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) or LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) projector.

What to Look for in a Flight Simulator Projector Setup 101

Monitors are usually installed in flight simulator cockpits. Lacking cockpits, the monitors will still be there even if your simulator is as barebones as a copy of Pilotwings 64 for the Nintendo 64, a game controller, and you slouched down on the floor with a bean chair in front of two or three panels simulating the experience of real flight.

  • Why Do People Need Flight Simulators Anyway? There are practical and entertainment reasons why people make use of flight simulators. For pilots, it’s a dependable and safe way to practice how to fly without risk of crashing. For gamers, it’s a method for them to entertain themselves like with any other videogame but with the extra bonus of learning what it’s like to fly a plane for real depending on how realistic the flight simulator they’ve bought. A projector should help lower the cost of having big screens that serve as your monitors for the simulation that makes your flight and piloting more immersive when push comes to shove.

 

  • Why Are Monitors Installed into Cockpits versus Using Just Projector Screens? You might be wondering what the purpose of installing monitors in flight simulator cockpits is when the monitors showing the view outside of the sky should be enough. The projector or sufficiently big screens should serve as a means to simulate the outside view. There are pros and cons of having extra monitors on top of your projected sky on huge 2-panel or 3-panel screens, the most obvious of which is expensiveness. Flight simulator cockpits with monitors are costlier but more accurate to how commercial or large airliner planes, as well as military planes, operate.

 

  • Using Additional Screens to Make Your Cockpit Look More Realistic: Additional devices in your cockpit setup aren’t just for aesthetic purposes. It’s there to familiarize yourself with how a given type of plane works, including what the extra monitors it has been for. Other simulators with cockpits are more barebones, with projections screens ranging from 2 to 6 and no fake windscreen for extra immersion points. Regardless of your setup, your projector for use that projects the virtual sky itself that your plane is supposed to traverse should be of the short-throw variety so that you can place it or them in long with the rest of your simulator cockpit.

 

  • Transparent Cockpit Windows and External Surroundings: A projector-only simulator setup has the pilot looking out windows to see his external surroundings displayed on 2-6 projection screens. To have extra monitors with your projector screen allows you to have a wider 180-degree view of what you’re virtually flying through. The 6 monitors are geometrically arranged for 180 degrees. External projection screens are the more affordable setup and you can compensate for the lack of monitors or extra-wide viewing when you’re actually flying up in the sky. Most gamers don’t need the extra monitor setup for flight simulation, but that’s because they won’t actually fly a real plane afterward.

 

  • The Pros and Cons of Extra Monitors or Projection Screens Only: You’ll need multiple synched computers to power these monitors on top of the projector or projectors projecting your outside virtual sky view on the 2-6 panel screen. You can actually use only one monitor to project the sky on a multi-panel screen due to the nature of the projection conforming to the shape of the screen. You also have the option to do a dual-to-multi-projector setup that projects individual parts of the sky view on their respective panels, but if you lack the budget one good DLP short-throw projector will suffice.

What The ViewSonic PX706HD 1080p Short Throw Projector Brings to The Table

The ViewSonic 1080p Short-Throw or Short Throw Projector is our projector of choice for flight simulator use whether it’s a simple barebones gaming setup or a more expanded and professional rig involving a detailed cockpit and a 180-degree view so that you feel like you’re surrounded by the sky.

The more detailed setup might involve buying more than one ViewSonic PX706HD DLP projector—up to 6 of them, with one for each projector screen angled together to form a half a dodecahedron or polyhedron. Projectors and screens also allow you to build your flight simulator cockpit as big or as small as you want it to be. To wit:

 

  • Short Throw Is The Way To Go: Using short-throw projectors is the way to go because projector screens are mainly used to substitute monitors. Sure, monitors can be less expensive than screens, but not bigger than screens. A monitor the size of a typical projector screen is more expensive than simply going the screen route. It should also be short-throw to better serve a flight simulator setup because overhead projectors are harder to calibrate in a multi-screen setting. Short-throw projectors can be placed right in front of you like regular monitors could, but this time around they’re under or around the cockpit instead of behind the pilot. They could also be placed behind the screens via rear projection.

 

  • The Affordability of DLP Nowadays: Around the start of the 2010s, 3-6 monitors can cost from $600 to $1,200. 3-6 LED projectors can cost from $3,000 to $6,000. However, as home cinemas became more common and alternatives for LCD projectors such as DLP and LCoS came about, high-end projectors became much cheaper. The ViewSonic PX706HD HD Projector, in particular, is only about $700 each. That’s $3,500 or within the price range of the LED projectors. The fluctuations depend on the type of projector (LCD, DLP, or LCoS) and the brand. Where you buy it can also alter its price. If money is no object, you can get the best projectors and largest screens possible instead of limiting yourself to cheaper but less efficient monitors for your simulator rig.

 

  • Projectors versus Monitors in Cost-Effectiveness: When searching for a projector, you need something that can make a good 180-degree external view on multi-panel screens. With 6 24-inch monitors, you could spend upwards of $1,200 while 6 LED projectors can cost from $3,000 to $6,000. The costliness of the latter goes down if you were to use comparably huge flatscreen monitor or screen costs to the size of the projector screens needed to accommodate projectors. It’s about getting more bang for your flight simulator buck. Also, a gaming projector works excellently with a flight simulator because a simulator is essentially a more realistic videogame used for training instead of just entertainment.

 

  • Projectors Should Project Video Accurately: In order for the surroundings of your flight simulator to be as accurate and immersive as possible, you need a view and a projector that can handle the real-time 3D rendering of polygons at high frame rates and detail. It should show you all the things you need to do before takeoff, while in flight, and when landing, including talking to the watchtower of whatever landing strip or airline you wish to go to. You’ll also be briefed in regards to which airspaces you can or cannot traverse while avoiding common pilot mistakes like flying at low altitudes or in low visibility situations.

 

  • The Specs That Matter: The ViewSonic 1080p Short Throw Projector has all the specs that matter, including being a DLP projector that uses a mirror prism system versus the liquid crystals of an LCD projector or the “best of both worlds” approach of an LCoS projector that combines crystals and mirrors together on silicon. DLP is best used for movement-based graphics and videos. It accurately captures video movement, particularly in high-polygon rendered 3D environments. Additionally, it works with USB-C or HDMI connections and is known for its low input lag or latency so that you’re able to pilot your simulation with real-time reactions.

 

  • Home Theater, Gaming and Flight Simulations: The fact that the ViewSonic 1080p Short Throw Projector is commonly used for home theater applications means that you’re assured of up to 1080p HD clarity of what you’re looking at, which is needed for high-definition, high-fidelity software and program rendering of a flight simulator app. It’s also good with low-input lag, which means that your control of the plane isn’t delayed. The simulation reacts in real-time to what you’re doing with the virtual plane you’re piloting, thus giving you a better handle of how to pilot a real plane when push comes to shove. Short-throw projectors are also closer to their target screens, which results in sharper, more vivid projections.

 

  • Flight Simulators Are Like Videogames: Flight simulators are like videogames, with the most popular ones being Microsoft Flight Simulator for PC and Pilotwings 64 for the Nintendo 64 back in the 1990s. The programming for such simulators or simulations has become more sophisticated since then, allowing for more accurate flight and more elaborate cockpit rigs so that you really feel like you’re piloting a real plane. Having monitors nearby on your cockpit windows is usually enough to give you a sense of scale when flying through the sky, but you can get a roughly higher-resolution and more cost-effective result with a short-throw projector or 6 like ViewSonic PX706HD. It’s also much safer on your eyes to boot.

 

  • Accepts State-of-the-Art Graphics Cards: You’ll need something like an Nvidia 1080 video board to connect your ViewSonic 1080p Short Throw Projector to the computer or game console running your flight simulator game or program. You can make your simulation more sophisticated or less depending on your budget. You can get custom-order a flight simulator program for your specific flight simulator rig or buy a commercial open-source then add stages or options to it at will in a modular fashion. Just make sure your high hardware specs match the software or else it will be a waste of money. Naturally, the ViewSonic PX706HD is a 1080p projector so it can’t run anything that’s 4K or if it does it will be reduced to 1080p and its native frame rate.

 

  • Same Projector Type Uses The Same Remote IR Code: Having the same projector lined up for your screen panels lined up like bay windows so that you feel like you’re surrounded by a virtual, polygonal sky has the added advantage of using the same remote with the same IR code. That way, you can put away their remotes as spares and use the same remote on each and every one of them for convenient control. It also comes with the drawback that what you intend to do with one projector can also affect the nearby projectors. You will have to adjust the projectors manually save for turning them both on and off. This way, you can access each projector individually.

 

  • Large Cockpits for Large Screens or Monitors: If your flight simulator has a large cockpit then you need large monitors or screens to match. You can get the largest screens possible that fill the whole room by investing in 1-6 short-throw projectors such as the ViewSonic PX706HD. If you wish to use monitors or a mix between monitors and projector screens to fill in gaps in your cockpit, keep in mind that you have the option between smaller monitors with smaller aspect ratios that you need to place right beside the cockpit window to work or widescreen, flatscreen monitors about 24 to 27 inches that you can arrange in a semicircle. The all-projector option works because it takes the least amount of space in your cockpit, giving you more legroom and space to move around.

 

  • Super-Sized Movies, Games, and Flight Simulators: It’s advantageous for the ViewSonic 1080p Short Throw Projector to have super-sized projections as a short throw distance. It works well for movies since you have the projector placed near the screen instead of on the ceiling or behind you. It also works excellently with videogames since it’s a gaming projector with low latency or lag, ensuring a responsive experience from your control pad every time. You won’t have to wait too long for the player character to move, jump, or shoot. In the same vein, flight simulators that work quite like videogames but for simulation purposes can benefit from the ViewSonic PX706HD’s immersive look at the Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080p on a screen that’s 300 inches big.

 

  • Cinematic Colors and Rendering: The accuracy and the fastness of the flight simulator’s rendering will depend on your PC or game console’s graphic chip and card. However, it’s also partly influenced by the projector or monitor you used. The ViewSonic 1080p Short Throw Projector boasts of cinematic colors with its exclusive DLP color wheel technology and the myriad of mirrors that produce a kaleidoscope of color and imagery. You want your flight simulation to be as realistic as possible, and one way to do that is to invest in a bright and clear projector that produces beautiful images in any environment, including the fake cockpit of a flight simulator airplane.

 

  • Our Other Option Other Than ViewSonic: Aside from ViewSonic PX706HD 1080p Short Throw Projector, we also eyed the Optoma GT1080 gaming projector. Two of them can be used to project on two screens, but they required mounting on the ceiling. This isn’t normally a problem if you have enough space in your home for a dedicated flight simulator room, such that its cockpit is permanently setup there like an arcade cabinet or flight simulator game. The idea here is to cross their beams so that left projects to the right screen and vice-versa. However, we decided this is much too complicated and we wished for a more mobile flight simulator rig, so we ultimately went with the PX706HD.

 

Conclusion

Indeed, if you want the best possible projector for your flight simulation needs, go for the ViewSonic 1080p Short Throw DLP Projector. You can buy 1 to conform to a multi-panel screen or multiple to improve your immersion, with each projector projecting one part of the screen as a multi-monitor setup would. ViewSonic’s DLP projector is among the most affordable ones on Amazon, with superior prices to their non-online counterparts while providing you with superior image quality every time. You can also scale up or down the realism of your flight simulator as needed, starting with one ViewSonic projector and several multi-panel screens as your foundation.

 

References:

  1. ViewSonic 1080p Short Throw Projector“, Amazon.com, Retrieved March 18, 2020
  2. Dave Britzius, “Projectors or Monitors for a Flight Simulator Cockpit“, DaveBritzius.com, September 2013
  3. AFSBI Editorial Staff, “Inexpensive Full Immersion Display“, AFSBI.org, August 22, 2018
  4. ElephantAir 737 Flight Simulator“, Blogspot.com, January 9, 2012
  5. Which Projector for Flight Simulator?“, AVS Forum, February 8, 2005

 

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James Core
I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right projector.

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