How are Sharp/NEC’s projectors so silent?
Far from being usurped by flat screen technology, projection is enjoying a resurgence.
Laser as a light source has rejuvenated the projection market thanks to its cost saving benefits, alongside its scalability and versatility. For many corporate, education and leisure applications, projection is the technology of choice when needing a large image area.
At ISE 2023, Sharp/NEC streamlined its approach by exhibiting only its latest product releases and innovations. Included in this line up were 3 new models representing 6 new releases from 3 projection categories. Across all our display ranges which include LCD and LED, innovation in Projection technology remains an important investment.
Why is projection still so popular and what makes Sharp/NEC stand out?
Focus on projection
Different display technologies are suited to different usage scenarios but for large venues requiring large-scale images, projection offers compelling advantages over other display technologies.
Projection offers a comparatively low-cost solution with high installation flexibility.
It’s in the over 5,000 Lumen category where projection really shines for bezel-free scalable images, but even in the smaller <75” screen market where LCD dominates, projection still offers many significant advantages:
Low cost – Anything over 98” is too big for a single large format display, yet laser projection offers a low cost per square metre solution making it the best choice for cost conscious users whilst still delivering on image quality. Against even larger sized dvLED walls, this cost advantage is even more significant.
Versatility – Projection offers the best mobility and flexibility of usage. Business projectors are portable and mobile, they can be utilised across multiple rooms and spaces, even off site. For large venue projection, installation is easy and low cost, requiring minimal infrastructure.
Scalability – Projection offers unlimited scalability and resolution by stacking multiple projectors and using edge blending to produce a brighter, larger image, whilst still keeping costs low.
Creativity – Projectors can deliver images onto any kind of surface for wide flexibility and creativity. Columns, walls, objects, the floor and even buildings are all suitable targets for a projected image opening exciting opportunities for POS messaging and customer-surprising digital signage where flat panel displays are unsuitable. What’s more, when it’s turned off, there’s no black screen - projection is very discreet.
Sustainability – Unique to Sharp/NEC, filter-free LCD technology means there’s no need to change filters or replace bulbs helping to reduce waste, and with long life reliability and low energy consumption, laser projection is ticking the box for sustainability. Furthermore, as we introduce new projection series such as the new PV Series, the upgrade path allows existing mounts and lenses to be reused to minimise waste and expenditure.
In summary, projection should be considered in all applications as a viable low-cost alternative. The only scenario where projection would not be appropriate would be in very high ambient light conditions.
What makes Sharp/NEC’s projection technology stand out?
It is Sharp/NEC’s understanding of real customer need that is driving its technological innovation resulting in value-add capabilities that enhance the user experience.
Some of Sharp/NEC’s installation projectors offer embedded computing, widening application usage for digital signage. They are also networkable enabling centralised remote management such as NEC’s Naviset Administrator to control projection assets over a large estate to manage administration and maintenance more efficiently.
Available on many of our projector models, an in-built ProAssist control software tool supports easy adjustment of professional features such as colour uniformity, white balance and blending making installation and set up very easy.
Above all, Sharp/NEC’s innovation in noise reduction is a major step forward and is greatly valued especially in meeting rooms and lecture halls. Achieved through a sealed light engine, not only is noise reduced, but it also extends the lifecycle, minimises maintenance and leads to significant cost savings.
The silent story
In 2019, NEC launched the near silent P525UL, the first in a series of super silent laser projectors. This innovative device went on to win acclaim at ISE, awarded ‘Best of Show’ and at the AV Awards where it was acknowledged ‘Projection Technology of the Year’.
It is standard practice within Sharp/NEC for our Japanese colleagues and R&D engineers to visit our customers. This direct contact enables Sharp/NEC design teams to fully understand the needs of the end user, to hear their requirements and challenges first hand and undiluted. One such occasion saw colleagues from the Tokyo office taken on a tour of several universities.
At University College London (UCL), Stephen Ellis, AV specialist, mentioned that the one thing not being addressed sufficiently by vendors was the noise level within teaching spaces. This feedback, and more in the same vein, directly resulted in the innovation that our customers enjoy today – projection with an outstandingly low noise level.
What’s so important about reducing noise?
Noise from traditional projectors is intrusive and distracts from the content displayed on the screen. This affects our concentration, disrupts collaboration, and forces people to raise their voice. In a setting where focused attention is important, in a meeting or seminar for instance, taking steps to create an environment conducive to support this is vital.
The student experience is all important in higher education and universities are exploring ways to support student preferences and working styles. By delivering lectures in a live stream broadcast with access to recordings 24/7, universities can fit learning around student lifestyles. Microphones are often installed in the ceiling mount alongside the projector with obvious challenges around audibility, here, silent projection becomes essential.
How do we make it so silent?
The major challenge in overcoming the noise level is the need for fans to cool the projector components including the LCD panels and the phosphor wheel. Keeping the device cool is vital to support continuous long-life performance.
NEC Patented Sealed Engine
By placing radial LCD cooling fans (NEC Patent) inside a sealed engine, the noise generated by the fans becomes much less apparent. What’s more, a sealed light engine satisfies another end user desire – to reduce the need for maintenance and thus lower the TCO.
With LCD technology, achieving a completely sealed optical engine and therefore no filter, presents a significant challenge. Filter-less operation represents not only a technical achievement in projector design, but it also delivers significant reliability and operational expenditure benefits. With no filter to change, downtime is reduced, while engineer visits and the associated disruption of gaining access to the projector for filter cleaning are eliminated.
The sealed engine not only improves the dustproof performance but also reduces the perceived noise of the fan, the innovation behind the silent operation.
Optimisation of internal airflow
An assessment of the internal component design and layout resulted in an enhanced scheme with more efficient heat dissipation. This negated the need for a phosphor wheel cooling fan.
Utilisation of new materials
The radial cooling fans are fixed in location using a rubber material in place of screws to further dampen any noise generation.
Next generation of silent projection
The latest NEC P Series models, the P627UL (6200AL) and the P547UL (5400AL) have a noise level of just 22dB which is comparable to the ticking of watch.
With optional WiFi and embedded MultiPresenter function for wireless presentation and screen sharing, this is the ideal meeting room and classroom tool, but also meets the needs of rental and staging companies and digital signage use cases.
New models joining the NEC PA Series (PA1705UL & PA1405UL) installation projectors also benefit from Sharp/NEC’s silent innovation with exceptionally low noise levels compared to competitive offerings.
With an enhanced sealed optical engine, dust resistant to IP5X certification, the LCD panels deliver long-term picture stability and brilliant colour brightness. The PA Series professional installation projectors feature advanced installation capabilities as demanded by higher education, leisure and museum applications.