NEC to Now Offer Competitive RGB Laser Projector Solution

NEC used CinemaCon 2016 to re-energize its RGB laser projector line with a new prototype solution, budded the NC3540LS, that is capable of delivering 35K lumens. All the main cinema projector providers; Christie, Barco, NEC, IMAX and Dolby now offer RGB laser solutions. These remain high-end solutions for the Premium Large Format (PLF) market, but that is likely to change – and maybe sooner than we think.

The projector was developed in partnership with IPG Photonics Corporation, who will supply the fiber-coupled RGB laser light source to the projector head made by NEC. This news reinforces the trend we are seeing in this part of the market – RGB laser technology is hot and getting hotter.

For example, IPG Photonics is not a laser company that was on our radar as a potential supplier of RGB lasers. It is a high performance laser company that serves a broad range of industrial, medical and commercial markets and offices worldwide. There are lots of these companies globally, but very few have ever focused on high power RGB laser solutions. Now, many more may do exactly that as there is a developing market for this technology in cinema projection, commercial and professional AV projection, specialty lighting, auto headlights, street lights, medical instrumentation and more. In other words, we are finally starting to see a range of solutions for RGB lasers that are getting these companies excited.

And it is not just happening in the US. While it is not official yet, my Chinese sources suggest that a major initiative is in the works in China to fund development of RGB lasers. Solid state laser solutions will be a major focus of the upcoming Display Summit China event in May.

NEC NC3540LSA year ago, Necsel, the major laser supplier for cinema today, said that they were then shipping about 5 million source lumens per month for the cinema market and expected to grow to 15 million source lumens per month by the end of the year. That’s a lot of growth and it is continuing in 2016.

The new NC3540LS offers true 4K resolution and the RGB laser sources allow it to get very close to covering the full BT 2020 color gamut. Contrast is speced at 2000:1. One unit can support up to 31 ft/9.5 m at 14 f-L while in the DCI-P3 color space. Two units can be stacked to reach 70K lumens, which can fill bigger screens.

NEC has shown and sold a small number of RGB laser projectors previously, but these were low lumen models with a high price tag that did not gain any market acceptance. More details on the new projector’s specifications, price and delivery are not yet available.

NEC also plans to enhance its line-up of affordable laser phosphor projectors for medium screens requiring up to 15m-screen width later this year. -CC