Most of us have spent the last year doing our best under the circumstances: trading in-person meetings for Zoom calls, classrooms for virtual school, and the magic of the big screen on opening night for a streamed movie in our own living room. Just in time for our jubilant return to the theater, Sharp NEC Display Solutions announced the addition of the new NC2443ML RB Laser Projector to its digital cinema projection series. Intended for theaters with medium to large-sized screens, the NEC NC2443ML delivers sharp, virtually light-spot-free images in natural, lifelike colors.
The 24,000 lumen NC2443ML fits into the middle of the new ML Series. The ML Projector Series features customizable light output with interchangeable light modules at 24,500 lumens, 20,000 lumens and 18,000 lumens for different brightness demands. Typically, the rated life of a laser light source is also the expected lifetime of a projector because replacing a failed light source can be cost prohibitive. With a modular laser source like the NC2443ML, cinemas don’t have to replace the entire projector in the event the laser ages or fails, only the light source. In just half an hour, the laser system can be removed and replaced at the customer location.
For heavy cinema usages, theaters will get a lot more out of their investment since the laser modules are interchangeable between models in the lineup. For maximum flexibility, cinemas can move laser modules around between compatible projectors. They can use either a 2K or 4K projector head based on the size and type of screen. As an example, a cinema is showing a 3D movie in Theater A and a 2D movie in Theater B. Since a 3D movie requires more brightness, the cinema will put the brightest light source in Theater A. If the cinema chooses to show the 3D movie in a different theater, it’s not necessary to move the whole projector. They can just swap the lens and module to easily wow their customers with the best 3D experience. Cinemas can conveniently save on new lenses by reutilizing the NEC NC2000 Series lens family.
To learn more about this new projector, we had a conversation with Richard McPherson, Senior Product Manager at Sharp NEC Display Solutions. According to Richard, the NC2443ML uses an RB (red blue) laser light source. When we asked him why the new projector didn’t use an RGB light source, he said it would be difficult to eliminate the unwanted sparkle that would be visible onscreen utilizing a green laser while still keeping the chassis compact and the unit affordable.
To properly incorporate a full RGB light source would likely price the model out of the price range of the intended customer. Even with the RB laser, this projector still features a multi-channel light source system and offers the rich vibrant colors that make up the DCI color space. The use of the RB laser and 4K DC-compliant quality creates an outstanding image bright enough to display on screens up to 72 feet (22 meters) in DCI color.
Instead of the larger DLP chip (1.39” DMD) typically used in ultra-premium 4K cinema projectors, the NC2443ML features a smaller native 4K (.98” DMD) chipset that helps this unit achieve a more attainable price point and also reduces the size of the chassis since a bigger chip would mean a bigger box. The NC2443ML is still a native 4K imager that is substantially larger than what is found in any consumer DLP projector.
In addition to the claimed improved projection and imaging, cinema owners may benefit from the flexible nature of the NC2443ML. As a result of its interchangeable laser light sources, and incredible longevity at 50,000 hours, the projector does not require lamp or filter replacement, leading to less maintenance and lower running costs. According to Sharp NEC, custom DMD shielding protects the projector from dust/oil contaminates and helps maintain optimal picture quality. This projector can be installed on the floor or the ceiling and features a wide variety of lens options. Unlike an older lamp-based projector with exhaust that might require a special air conditioning system, no exhaust or external cooling is needed.
For added convenience, cinema operators can use direct selection buttons for eight stored projector configurations and control the projector from an optional touchscreen. Auto brightness control maintains constant brightness by adjusting the laser power as it ages.
The NC2443ML does not include an IMS (integrated media server). The exhibitor has the flexibility to retrofit and use what they already have or use one projector for multiple types of cinema applications. In addition to DCI certified content, cinemas can take advantage of alternate content. For example, on a day that has traditionally low theater traffic, the cinema might rent out a theater to a church or corporation. The cinema has the flexibility to use content from an existing catalog, receive professional content delivered by a studio or even accept an HDMI input from a guest paying for theater space.
Gerd Kaiser, Senior Product Line Manager Large Venue and Digital Cinema projection at Sharp NEC Display Solutions Europe, said: “The addition of the NC2443ML, with crystal-clear 4K output, to the flexible pricing options we introduced with the earlier Modular Laser models, further enhances the NEC Cinema product range. Our newest addition delivers unbeaten performance at very low noise levels while also keeping costs low and sustainable. This is a range that caters to every cinema requirement and gives customers more choices in how to appeal to their audiences.”
Affordable and flexible, the NC2443ML projector lets cinemas display diverse content in medium and large size theaters with a modular light source at 24,000 lumens. The NC2443ML uses an RB laser light source to eliminate unwanted sparkle on the screen and keep the chassis more compact and the price point down. Sharp NEC Display Solutions claims the modularity of the NC2443ML projector will help theater owners and operators project their investment and be ready to welcome back movie lovers who are ready to be “wowed” again by the big screen cinema experience.