This review is from: NeatDesk Desktop Scanner and Digital Filing System (Personal Computers)
This scanner is marketed to small businesses, and while I do not happen to run one of those, it does appear to be a really nice item for organizing business expenses. Since I am very fond of ‘tech’ of all sorts, I offered to test and review this item.
The description says it does not support 64 bit windows, and in fact the included installer CD refused to run on my 64 bit system. Not to worry though, if you go to their web site (www.neatco.com) you can download a 64 bit version. It installs a database as well as the scanner software. There is a special piece of paper in the package which is used to calibrate the scanner, and the documentation recommends occasional recalibration, which means you need to NOT lose the paper. I am not sure what you’d do if you lost it…I guess ask them to send you another one.
The NeatWorks software is really nifty. It interprets the scanned documents, and if they are receipts, it picks out dollar amounts for later use in expense reports. I did not have any business cards to try, but the application will scan them and produce an update to several types of ‘contact list’ that you might use. There is also an option to choose to file an item as a ‘document’ which means it is largely uninterpreted (though you can do text searches on them. One suggestion made by the developer is that you file recipes as documents so they can be searched for ingredient lists).
I wanted to give this scanner a good test, so I fed in a bunch of stuff just to see how it would be handled. My results:
1) I fed in a grocery receipt that had been folded a few times but wasn’t badly crumpled. This was handled just fine, and the software was easily able to pick out the correct dollar totals. It even figured out that the receipt was for groceries and tagged it as such.
2) An Amazon purchase receipt that was in the box from a network hard drive I recently purchased. This scanned correctly as ‘hardware’ but the software read the dollar sign on the total as a ’1′ and thus added a thousand dollars to the purchase amount! Yow! Luckily, this is simple to fix in the application and you are in fact prompted to verify the numbers before they are filed in the database.
3) A receipt from a recent American Airlines flight to Texas. The application did read it as an ‘airline’ expense, but the dollar totals were completely misread. Again, I fixed them easily.
4) A receipt from a recent trip to Best Buy. If you’ve seen BB receipts lately, these are receipts with an attitude! They’ve got a lot of ‘stuff’ printed on them, advertisements, phone numbers, etc. The scanner processed this perfectly and the software read everything correctly.
5) For chuckles, I fed in a MegaMillion lottery ticket (a loser, sadly). This ticket had really light print on a colored background, and of course it had numbers everywhere. Not surprisingly, the software was completly flummoxed by this one. I filed it under ‘documents’.
6) How about a 20 dollar bill? It scanned perfectly, and the software indicated it was ‘cash’ (hee hee) but did not indicate the denomination.
7) Since I was testing it, I decided to do something of a stress test. I took a longish grocery receipt and I crumpled that sucker up BADLY. Then I flattened it out as best I could and fed it in. For good measure, as the paper disappeared into the scanner, my cat leapt onto the desk and whacked it. Now THAT is a test… This receipt did not fare well at all. It was completely chewed up and caught in the scanner mechanism. I was afraid I’d done some damage but I picked out the pieces and then got the last of it out of the works by scanning a blank piece of paper. This jam-clearing exercise was simple to do, since the scanner top pops open at the push of a button to allow access to the internals. The scanner was undamaged and I fed in another document, which processed just fine.
Now I tried out some of the software options…
Once the receipts were in the scanner database, there were numerous export options. I exported to a MS Word document and got a very nice ‘expense report’. An export to Excel gave me an xls file that produced a nice spreadsheet.
My final scans really tested the NeatWorks interpretive software, and that application exhibited a level of functionality that might be an indication of why this scanner is so expensive. I tore a page out of a paperback book (the ‘about the author’ page at the end, because it contained two different font sizes and some bolding) and scanned it in as a document. Then I exported it to a PDF and opened that PDF in Adobe reader. I exported it to a text file and it was a perfect text representation of the words on the page! I could wish it had the option to export to MS Word format because I can’t begin to afford Adobe Acrobat…
I then printed out an adobe…