4.5 out of 5 stars
- Eliminate paper
- OCR (character recognition)
- Searchable files (due to OCR)
- Ability to edit PDFs, including copying parts of it elsewhere
- Scans can live within program or not depending on your needs
- Multiple pages into 1 document
- Color or black and white
- Double-sided scanning option
- Scans papers, receipts, and business cards
- Can add business cards into your contact program
- Create reports, including ones for taxes (from any or some of the receipts)
- Versions for both PC and Mac
- Desktop (NeatDesk) and portable (NeatReceipts) models
- Limited ability to scan to other programs (i.e. Evernote)
- Occasional image problems
- Document primarily – less suited for photos
- PC and Mac models are not interchangeable
Three yeas ago I talked about the temptation of “Creating a Digital Filing Cabinet with a Scanner” – and that all the tools around us have both pros and cons. Getting and using a scanner in order to reduce paper is the answer for only some of us. Just as I knew I would eventually, I picked up the NeatDesk scanner from The Neat Company. It was a little more than a year ago now. My husband and I both used it independently – scanning papers in so that we could then recycle the paper out of our space.
I can be a bit of a control freak (about my own stuff) – I want to be able to make the decisions and to control where and how things are organized. NeatDesk allows me that freedom with one setting. Not everyone wants to make decision after decision about each scanned item – and they provide for that as well, containing everything you scan to the program – if you choose. I have less experience with this, although I know that you can export any files from the program to somewhere else when/if you need to. They also offer the ability to export data into spreadsheets and create reports for various expenses, including for taxes (US and Canada).
One of the most important considerations for me was the ability to copy part of a PDF into another program – the time saved by not having to type up a section of the paper. For instance, my mom sent me an article about the benefits of getting out into nature – I wanted to save the whole article, so I scanned it. Then I wanted to share just a paragraph in the bottom part of my newsletter, and I was able to open the scanned article and copy and paste just the part I wanted to share into the newsletter.
The cost can be a large factor: the desktop NeatDesk scanner is about $400- and the portable NeatReceipts scanner is about $180- though they do have sales periodically. Since cost is something to consider – wait to buy a scanner until you are prepared to use it. Just like any new tool, it takes time to get familiar with it – the learning curve. I found the NeatDesk to be fairly easy to learn and use; even remembering with gaps between using it.
A regular challenge for me can be to obsess about using the new tools – the temptation to block out all other activities for doing it all. In this case, I knew part of me would want to sit down and scan everything in sight! I also know that this isn’t the best way to handle things. First, it leads to a strong possibility that I would scan things that were unnecessary. Second, life doesn’t stop simply because I have a new system. Third, like so much, it might never be done – I still get paper magazines with articles to save. These points mean that incorporating scanning into my life would be more helpful.
Therefore I set up a file in my small desktop filing box called “To Scan” and as I came across papers that I’d want to scan I put them in the file. Then about once a month I sit down and scan all the papers in that file – a focused time for only this purpose which also means I’m also saving time and energy from scanning one paper here and another there. This also gives me time and space to be clear about the decisions I’m making about what I’m scanning and then how and where to organize the scanned papers.
The versatility of the settings makes it valuable as well – being able to scan both sides, multiple pages into one document, color or black and white means that we as the consumer have less work – the scanner can more easily benefit us. As with any tool we use, one of the most important considerations is how it can assist us with our priorities and limit additional effort on our part – the NeatDesk scanner succeeds well in keeping things simplified.
In some ways The Neat Company products are designed for organization within their program. The ability of where you can direct your scanned documents to go is more limited than I would like. Since I continue to discover how helpful Evernote is, I’m a bit disappointed that I cannot scan directly into my Evernote account. On the other hand, I use Dropbox a lot as well and NeatDesk scans my papers there quite easily. Despite the Evernote limitation, I would not give up my NeatDesk scanner – the functionality of it meets my needs (and it’s not hard to add the documents to Evernote, it’s simply another step).
Some of the documents I scanned came out blurry, though it does seem to be a rare occurrence. This year I scanned many of the tax related documents for my husband – when there was grayed or colored areas those were barely legible. Except that when I repeated the scanning of them with a different setting, they scanned in beautifully. This isn’t always the case – I have a black and white printout from a presentation with the PowerPoint slides and its appearance leaves something to be desired – though part of that could easily be that the printout itself is less than ideal.
Since I waited until I was ready to get the NeatDesk and have used it regularly for over a year I can share with you that it’s a tool that I truly value. It offers me important options for getting papers into a digital format and makes it easy to do so. Being mindful of my own tendencies, I knew going in that I would need to establish systems with it that would benefit me. Just because I have found it to be a wonderful tool doesn’t mean you need to create a digital filing cabinet with your papers. What are your needs? What are you comfortable with?