Hi new member here. I bought an Optishot right after Christmas 2012 and think it's the best $399 I've ever spent on "winter in New England" golf. Sure it has it's drawbacks, for one you can't manipulate the loft of the club by simply opening the face because it doesn't reat that. It doesn't read the ball, it calculates spin by the actions of the club at impact. If you're "in out" for example it calculates the spin you may have given the ball but it doesn't actually read the ball. That's something but it's not totally natural. Also your hitting off a platform, you can't take divots, you can't FEEL the sand when your in the bunker or the tall grass of the rough. BUT you also can't feel those conditions when using top end simulators either.
I played at an OPTIGOLF center a few weeks ago. It cost me $25 for 9 holes of simulated golf and you didn't hit out of sand of you were in a bunker, you couldn't feel the resistance of long grass in the rough and also couldn't take divots. So regardless how good or expensive the simulator is and regardless if it reads the ball rather than the club, even on high end simulators you still can't really do things like get under the ball to create backspin, you can't divot and you can't get under a ball in the sand ... so you really have to put things into perspective. The only real golf is real golf, NO simulator is 100% real golf. And REAL GOLF is not possible during a New England winter.
For $399 the Optishot tells you the club head speed, face angle, swing path, where you hit the ball on the club face, then calculates that to give you a fairly realistic calculated GUESS what your real world shot would have done. It's 100 times better feedback than we snow bound golfers get from hitting a ball into a net ... or putting our clubs away and not playing until spring. And yes ... like a video game and unlike a hitting net it's FUN! I played a simulated round with my son last weekend and we had a blast. Our results were very similar to our real world results ... we're both generally BOGY players in real life and we are when using the Optishot. It seemed very realistic to our real world results.
So is it real golf ... NOPE. NO SIMULATOR is real golf. Can it help your game ... I believe it can, the feedback it gives is useful. Is it fun? Very much so. (I'd say as much fun as paying to play on a pro simulator) Is it better than putting the clubs away all winter? God yes! Again it's the best $399 I ever spend for "Winter in New England " golf.