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NeatDesk Desktop Scanner and Digital Filing System for Windows

April 29th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

3 Stars
NeatDesk

I’ve mostly gone paperless in my home office and hate receiving paper statements, receipts, and bills. For years, I’ve been using scanners on multifunction printers to scan any documents that I couldn’t get in electronic form, but knew there were better solutions out there, like the NeatDesk. I finally got to spend some time with one and while my experience with it was mostly positive, there are some areas that could definitely use improvement.

PROS

  • Quick and quiet scanning
  • ADF supports up to a 50 page document
  • Scan docs, receipts, and business cards
  • OCR does a good job of creating searchable PDFs
  • Print documents and receipts directly to Neat software
  • Easily create reports based on receipt data

CONS

  • Scans are occasionally crooked
  • Business cards scan poorly
  • Neat software is a little buggy
  • Free support by email only

With my multifunction printer, I primarily scanned documents to PDFs. The OCR software wasn’t very good, so my PDFs weren’t searchable. I came up with a naming scheme and folder organization that would allow me to easily find them later, but the process was laborious. I put the time into it because I hated the paper clutter in my life. I was excited about the NeatDesk because it had the potential to save me a lot of time.

IN THE BOX
The NeatDesk for PCs comes with the desktop scanner, power adapter, USB cable, a driver CD and Nuance’s PDF Converter Professional 6.0.

NeatDesk box

HARDWARE
The NeatDesk’s glossy white plastic body and the dark grey input and output trays make the scanner look like a premium piece of hardware. The input tray has a multipurpose guide for 8.5 x 11 paper, receipts, and business cards. The guide can be removed to allow up to 50 sheets to be inserted in the scanner at once(only 10 sheets can be used with the multipurpose guide).

NeatDesk front

The back of the NeatDesk has a power adapter plug, USB port and a power switch.

NeatDesk back

During my time with the NeatDesk, it scanned quickly and quietly. I didn’t experience any jams while scanning approximately 100 pages of documents, receipts and business cards. I was able to scan a few credit card receipts successfully, but I mainly stuck with full-page, 8.5 x 11 documents. More often than not, the documents scanned straight, but on occasion, they were slightly crooked. The problem is that there’s no adjustable guide to help keep the paper straight as it goes through. You basically have to depend on the rollers to keep the page straight while it feeds through to the output tray. Like I said, it worked well most of the time, but I’d still like to see an adjustable guide to avoid crooked scans.

The only real hardware issue I had was with business card scanning. They scanned far too inconsistently. Many cards scanned crooked, while some only scanned partially. I tried scanning about 20 business cards and only four of them scanned acceptably. I don’t particularly care about scanning business cards myself, but I think it’s worth mentioning for those who are looking for a business card scanner.

NeatDesk rollers

SOFTWARE
When I received the NeatDesk, I had no idea how much the scanner relied on the software. In fact, you can’t use the scanner at all without first launching the Neat software; the Scan and PDF buttons don’t do anything without it. This obviously means that the NeatDesk application is vital to the whole experience. Unfortunately, I ran into problems with the software on two separate occasions, which required me to uninstall it and reinstall it. Since the last time however, I haven’t experienced any further problems. I’m currently running version 5 SP5 (5.0.26_85).

Neat version 5

One of the really nice things about NeatDesk, is its ability to scan documents into searchable PDFs. This can make finding your files much easier, if your system can index the contents of a PDF file. If you save all your scans into the Neat database, files are even easier to find. Organizing your documents and receipts in the application is pretty painless, though you’ll still have to correct some mistakes that the OCR system will inevitably make. The Neat database stores all your scans, which can be backed up manually. I prefer to have a copy of everything as a separate PDF file, so after I scan a document into the Neat software, I export it as a PDF as well. I also have the Neat software remind me every three days to back up the database. It’d be nice if there was a way to automatically back up the database, but I’ve gotten used to backing it up after every session.

I like the layout of the Neat software and found it to be intuitive and clean. However, the UI relies heavily on a pointing device (mouse). I couldn’t find a single keyboard shortcut I could use. In lieu of keyboard shortcuts, a customizable toolbar might have been useful, but that wasn’t available either.

CONCLUSION
The NeatDesk is a nice desktop scanner that’s quick and easy to use, as long as you don’t rely on it for business cards. The hardware is just about perfect, but could benefit from an adjustable paper guide. I like the software’s interface, layout and functions, but support for keyboard shortcuts or a customizable toolbar would make using the NeatDesk even better for power users. The software also has some stability issues that really shouldn’t exist on a scanner that costs nearly $400. To their credit, however, Neat continues to update the software on a frequent basis. I still recommend trying out the NeatDesk desktop scanner, but your experience will most certainly depend on whether the NeatDesk software will run properly on your system.

Available from Amazon.com.

* Review unit provided by The Neat Company

  1. Ed Rhee
    December 11th, 2012 at 20:40 | #1

    @Bob
    Thanks for the compliment! I don’t believe the NeatDesk can scan into an editable Word document, but I could be wrong. Have you checked out the Fujitsu ScanSnap? I know for sure that it supports scanning to Word. Check it out: http://techdadreview.com/2012/07/12/fujitsu-scansnap-s1500-document-scanner.

  2. December 9th, 2012 at 00:41 | #2

    I liked your review. Do you know if you can scan a document and get it into and editable Word format? I am OK with creating a PDF and then copying and pasting into Word. The only thing is that the final product needs to be editable and not an image of the document.

    Thanks,

    Bob

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