Why so silent? Customer-oriented innovation
“Projectors are noisy, right? It’s the cooling fan, without it the projector will overheat and shut down.”
It’s true that heat build-up is a major issue, but you absolutely do not have to put up with noise!
Projection is the technology of choice for environments needing a large image. Anything over 98” is too big for a single large format display, yet laser projection offers a low-cost per square metre solution for a number of applications. Lecture theatres, conference halls, large classrooms and meeting spaces require the all-important visual anchor for presentation and teaching delivery - projection fits the purpose very nicely for large venues.
But projecting a large image area is only one element in the overall user experience. Look deeper, what’s the real customer need?
As a world-leading, customer-oriented manufacturer, this is NEC’s great strength. Our innovation is not technology for technology’s sake; its drilling down to the real needs of the application and identifying how we can improve the entire user experience.
How do we do this? By listening to our customers!
The silent story
2019 saw NEC launch the near silent P525UL, the first in a series of super silent laser projectors. This innovative device went on to win acclaim at ISE 2019, awarded ‘Best of Show’ and at the AV Awards where it was acknowledged ‘Projection Technology of the Year’.
It is standard practice within NEC for our Japanese colleagues and R&D engineers to visit our customers. This direct contact enables 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 are able to 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.
The super silent NEC P Series laser projectors bring a sense of calm to the meeting or learning space enabling teams to share ideas and collaborate more effectively.
How did we make it so silent?
The major challenge to 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, it 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. No other manufacturer can offer this unique advantage.Download Whitepaper
The sealed engine not only improves the dustproof performance but also reduces the perceived noise of the fan, the innovation behind the silent operation.
The NEC Patented sealed light engine resulted in the P525UL launching to the market with a noise level of just 22dB*. This was further reduced in the subsequent higher brightness P605UL model to just 19bB* thanks to additional innovative developments:
*in ECO mode
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.
Comparing acoustic noise levels
Studies show that a 6dB difference in noise level is perceived as double (x2) the noise level.
By comparing the P605UL in ECO mode (19dB) with a competitor’s equivalent model in ECO mode (27dB), the difference is 8dB. The competitor model has a 2.5x perceived higher noise level compared to the NEC P605UL.
It’s not just the P Series, the PE Series (PE455WL & PE455UL) and the new PA Series (PA804UL & PA1004UL) - soon to be launched - benefit from NEC’s silent innovation with exceptionally low noise levels compared to competitive offerings.
Looking to future proof its visual assets during a refresh within 15 teaching spaces, Paul Wilson, learning environment technology services manager at Teesside University was impressed by the P525UL:
“The impressively low 238W power consumption in eco mode helps significantly towards our cost reduction targets alongside not having to factor in filter cleaning and lamp replacements. During the demonstration, we were impressed by the colour reproduction, the image was bright and the colours strong.
But what really struck a chord during the demo was how silent the projector was. As a buying criteria the noise level wouldn’t normally be so noteworthy, we have come to expect a level of noise with projection, but with the P525UL it was notable by its absence!
Other than for the superb quality of the projected image, I imagine these projectors will go entirely unnoticed in the classrooms and won’t demand any attention at all for a very long time.”
Adam Harvey, AV solution architect, was looking to achieve a similarly enhanced student experience at the University of Hertfordshire:
“Our newly refurbished teaching spaces are brightly lit for maximum student motivation yet we need the teaching material to be easily readable from all angles. The P525UL delivers excellent image quality with a brightness level appropriate to the high ambient light conditions. But what is really impressive is its silent operation, it’s a unique feature that will really add to the student experience.”
“Low total cost of ownership plays an important part in any purchasing decision we make. The very low power consumption of the P525UL laser projector, along with no lamp costs and long life, helps us to achieve this.”
The silence continues . . .
NEC’s silent innovation is implemented into subsequent projection ranges bringing enhanced user benefits to even larger venues, including cinemas! The NC1402L for instance, launched in March, is the quietest digital cinema projector on the market with the additional benefit of reduced maintenance costs. When the film director’s intent is to build cinematic tension, the last thing you want to hear is the whir of the cooling fans!
NEC Display Solutions demonstrates its comprehensive understanding of real customer need and its desire to address this need through ground-breaking technological innovation.
Find out more about our P Series Projectors: