NEC Debuts RB Laser + Green Phosphor Projector

NEC has introduced a new lighting option for projectors serving the digital cinema market. Calleed the NC1700L, it offers the first red and blue laser – plus green phosphor solid state illumination solution.

To review, the cinema market has been serviced historically with Xenon lamps that can have 750 to 1500 hour lifetimes and require exhaust hoods to ventilate the heat. Some years ago, solid state light sources consisting of red, green and blue lasers were introduce in the Premium Large Format (PLF) part of the cinema market. They require chillers to extract the heat, are quite expensive, but offer 50K to 70K hour lifetime with the widest possible color gamut (nearly BT.2020). Following this, laser phosphor projectors were introduced at lower price points, with DCI-P3 color gamuts and aimed at mainstream screen sizes. These featured blue lasers for the blue component and a separate bank of blue lasers to drive a yellow phosphor wheel. This yellow light was then separated into red and green components.

The innovation that NEC is introducing is a new architecture that retains the blue lasers for the blue component, but adds red laser for the red component. Green is now generated with a green phosphor wheel pumped by a separate bank of blue lasers. How this is arranged optically in the 3-chip DLP engine is shown below.

In a conversation, NEC Display Solutions Senior Product Manager, Richard McPherson explained that the rationale for the developing this architecture was the lumen limitations on the conventional yellow phosphor wheel approach. “Heat extraction from the rotating phosphor wheel is driving the limitation of the yellow wheel architecture resulting in a maximum brightness of around 14K lumens,” explained McPherson. “The new architecture offers 17K lumens in the first product, but we expect this platform to be used for a series of projectors in the future, including higher brightness options.”


In terms of specifications, the NC1700L is aimed at small to medium sized screens up to 17 meters (55.8 feet) wide. It offers 2048 x 1080 resolution, 2D or 3D playback capability, up to 20K hour lifetime and 1750:1 contrast ratio. An external chiller is need as well. This can be placed below the projector in the spot the lamp console normally sits, or located remotely (horizontal separation can be 5m or vertical separation can be 3m). The NC1700L uses the same IMS and lenses as the NEC NC 1201L cinema projector.

We asked about the color performance as well and it is a DCI-P3 compliant projector, but the exact chromaticity coordinates of the primaries was not available.

The new laser design offers flexibility in other ways, too. The projector does not require a special exhaust system, and it uses a much wider lens shift ratio without sacrificing image quality. Furthermore, its connectivity options enable non-cinematic content, such as presentations and games, giving cinema operators more events with which to grow revenue.

The NC1700L will ship in the second half of March for $50,285. It will also be demonstrated at the upcoming CinemaCon event, where we will get a chance to see it in action. – CC