It’s sometimes hard for me to believe that we live in a world that still requires us to use as much paper as we do. Every week we deal with receipts, contracts, business cards, tax information, bills … the list goes on.
The only thing worse than dealing with all that physical paper is having to scan it, create pdfs from it, upload it or email it!
When I was dealing with only a small amount of paperwork, scanning things on a flatbed scanner one page at a time was painful and time-consuming. As business picked up and I began dealing with more paper, the flatbed approach simply became unmanageable and impractical.
Beyond just scanning, there was the necessity of keeping all of the scans organized accordingly so I could easily find them again down the road. The process required a lot of folder management which worked, but made it nearly impossible to cross reference things (e.g. a receipt as both an expense and related to a particular trip and tax year).
I looked into a number of page-feeding scanners, but most of them I read about or tried didn’t handle different document types well and the feeder mechanisms were not refined. In most cases, they couldn’t handle the volume of paper and easily jammed. They were also slow…
I’d seen the Neat scanners in the airport but was initially turned off by what I perceived as a high price at $399. Last Fall, I couldn’t take my old scanning method any longer, so I decided to take the plunge. Since then, I’ve never looked back… in fact I liked it so much I bought a second Neat Desk scanner as a gift.
I don’t review a lot of hardware products here, but I do put a lot of emphasis on simplification, efficiency and time savings. All of which the Neat system helps.
To begin with, the Neat scanner takes up very little space and looks nice sitting on the desk. It has three feeder slots: one for normal paper sized items, one for receipts and one for business cards. The feed & scan functionality is incredibly fast, and after about 5 months of use, it has never jammed on me.
Along with the scanner, Neat provides a desktop application (Mac & PC) that works surprisingly well. The software creates a proprietary database of documents you scan in but you can easily export or scan straight to .pdf (or other formats). I’m not usually a fan of desktop apps like this one, but the Neat scanner software works extremely well. I’ve found the OCR (optical character recognition) also works well though as a technology (not just with Neat) has room for improvement.
The Neat software also does its best to identify specific fields on documents which is particularly helpful on receipts. It’ll grab things like vendor, date, amount, etc… and index them accordingly so they are easily searchable (and cross reference-able).
I can’t begin tell you how many hours this device has saved me. While it appears a little on the pricey side, it’s definitely the Cadillac of scanners and the time-savings and organizational abilities easily justify the price.
You get what you pay for, and if you need a document scanner that is fast, easy to use, provides efficient cataloging and export, the Neat Desk Scanner is money well spent.
More importantly, if you deal with any amount of paper at all and pick up a Neat scanner, you won’t regret it.
Check out the following video from Neat for more information or get your Neat Scanner at Amazon: