We have all seen the commercials for the NeatDesk Scanner, promising to organize all of your old receipts, business cards and documents by making a searchable database of them. I personally am always skeptical of any “as seen on TV” product, but this is a product my wife has actually asked me for, so when I was told I was going to get to review it I was very excited to see what it could do, and see if it could change my mind.
Inside the orange and white box is a small, top-fed scanner. It looks a lot like a fax machine, but it only has 2 buttons, Scan and PDF. It connects to the computer using a USB connection, but it does require its own power source. The document feeder at the top will hold up to 50 pages at a time or, with the “input trey”, there are three different size openings that will hold 10 sheets each, making scanning receipts and business cards a lot easier.
To put the NeatDesk to the test I used a folder of old receipts dating back to 2005. Creases and all the NeatDesk was able to scan and read more than me on some of the receipts, at a very high rate of speed too. The Neat 5 Software then takes over, looking for key words and specific information indicating if the scan is a receipt, business card or document. During this process I did see a big jump in my CPU usage, but it was for less than 30 seconds even with the paper feeder full. From there it asks you to review and confirm that the information is correct on all documents it scanned. Hand writing and small font that is very close together was the only print that gave the scanner a hard time. This is overcome by the software in time as it learns how you file certain types of receipts, and uses the correct information for you in the future.
Unfortunately, the document scanner portion of the software was a letdown for me. It can save documents with any name and information you want, but all get put into one of three folder types; Business expenses, Expense reports or Personal expenses. This allows all of the documents to be included in the tax reports that Neat 5 can create for you. However not everything you scan needs to be on an expense report. To circumvent this you can use the PDF scan function, except these files are not stored or visible in Neat 5, they are stored directly on the computer as a PDF.
The Business card organizer is by far the best feature of the NeatDesk. Just by scanning a stack of business cards the Neat 5 software creates its own address book. It has fields for any information you could find on a business card, and it keeps a copy of the business card image saved as well. These contacts are then exportable, at the click of a button, to outlook directly or to multiple address book file types.
Overall the NeatDesk fills a niche market that doesn’t have a lot of competitors. Most other scanners focus on image quality and pictures, instead of making your entire filing cabinet digital. If you need to organize your spending, expenses or tax deductions, the NeatDesk is an excellent investment. However, at $399.99, I would not suggest it to the “Average Joe” just looking to scan some paperwork into their PC.