I have long wanted to have a digital filing cabinet with all of my receipts, documents, and bills in electronic format rather than a huge, clunky lateral file full of heavy papers. In addition, when I had to look for a receipt or statement I would have to thumb through piles of papers hoping that I had the right month and year.
Recommend this product?
I have a scanner, but it only does one side at a time and even with Adobe Acrobat Professional, I would have to sift through the scanned images (if I did a batch) and re-order the pages so that they were in the correct order. It was a cumbersome project and one that I never finished.
Then, along comes Neat Desk. My wife told me that she saw a commercial on television for it, so I decided to look at their website http://www.neatco.com/ I was rather reluctant because it sounded too good to be true that a $400 duplex-capable scanner could organize documents, export to Excel, Quicken, Quickbooks, and Turbo Tax. I could have purchased it locally, because several different stores such as TigerDirect carry it, but decided to buy it through the website. They offer a trial period and if you didn’t like the product, you could notify them and they would refund the purchase price and even pay for the return shipping. Also, they offer to break the price down into monthly payments if you don’t want to pay for the entire price at once. In less than 10 days I received the Neat Desk at my front doorstep.
The first thing that really impressed me was the small footprint of this scanner. It’s about the size of a small toaster oven. The installation and setup instructions couldn’t be easier. The unit comes with NeatWorks which is their organizational software that works with the scanner. The software MUST be installed first. AND, if you missed that on the warning slip, there is a removable strip over the USB port indicating that you have to install the software and drivers before connecting the scanner. It is compatible with all versions of Windows and works with both 32 and 64-bit systems.
The software took about 10-15 minutes to install. Their website has a host of video-based tutorials on how to effectively use the machine, but I just decided to plow ahead and try it on my own.
The unit contains 3 slots – one for business cards, one for cash register receipts, and a third one that is 8.5” wide for documents. The software contains 3 columns which correspond with each of these categories. Now, here’s where it becomes VERY interesting: when you are ready to scan, you can tell the software what you are scanning or leave the setting at “auto”. As it is performing the OCR (Optical Character Recognition), it will determine what type of item was scanned. After the OCR process is complete, everything goes into the “inbox” where you are able to review and file your documents. Business cards are automatically placed in a contact database which is exportable.
Also, if you have a mammoth document to scan, there is a way to open the scanning unit and remove the tray inserts, close the unit, and then scan up to 50 pages at a time. OCR processing happens in the background, so you can actually work with other software while this process is completing.
There is also a “quick scan” version of the software which enables you to simply scan your items and everything will be held in the “inbox” until you are ready to review and file. The software is also self-learning. For example, if you scan a statement from Chase bank and it misreads the company name, once you correct it, it will learn the correction and from then on, when it scans a similar document, it will automatically categorize it as Chase Bank.
The software is perfect for business people who have to keep expense reports for work, but is easily adaptable for the home user who just wants to digitize documents and eliminate piles of paper. To me, the fact that it scans both sides of the paper at the same time is worth the $400.
Once the documents or other items are scanned, you can search for them by keyword which is a great feature. There is also a backup feature for the database which will compress everything that has been scanned and you can burn the backup to a CD or DVD. Should you have existing documents in .pdf format, they can easily be imported into the NeatWorks software with the click of a button. You also have the choice of scanning a document and converting it to a pdf file to email to a client.
There are so many options that are difficult to describe in this review, so I would encourage you to go to the Neat Company’s website, click on “support” and view the training videos. You can then actually see the scanner working and the capabilities of the software. Neat Company also offers a portable version which is very small and can fit in a briefcase.
I have had the unit now for about a week and have zipped through a pile of paperwork that had been sitting on my desk gathering dust. Needless to say, my unit is not being returned to the manufacturer. I wish that I could adequately describe the complete features of this unit, but I truly believe that if you are considering a purchase, the visual tutorials give you a plethora of information visually that would take me pages to describe.
I’m sure that there are many other scanners out on the market that can do even more than the Neat Desk (I saw one for $1,600), but for the average user, I believe that you will get the most bang for the buck with the Neat Desk!
Neatworks provided a major update to their software which had ONE great feature - before this update, if I were to place a stack of various bills and documents, each was treated as a separate page which required me to review each one, merge it to the appropriate document and then save which I found a bit annoying.
they've improved the software to look for similarities on each page and group similar documents together. Now my AT&T bill is all together as one document and not separate pages. GREAT IMPROVEMENT. This represents to me that they listen to feedback and have a commitment to improving their product rather than getting it sold and leaving the customer to deal with oversights in design. Cudos to this company.
Neatwoks came up with its latest major upgrade to the software. Whoever is in their design department should receive an award! Scanning is more intuitive. Click on the folder where you want to scan your document/receipt and then scan. They've managed to somehow utilize a caching system so that almost immediately you can scan the next batch within 1-2 seconds. Meanwhile, all of the brainwork is working in the backgroun queue.
The software has also gotten more accurate at reading the documents and extrapolating information into the correct fields. The database backup also takes less than 1/2 the time that it did in he previous version.
This scanner just keeps getting better and better!
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Amount Paid (US$): 399.00