A few weeks ago, the Neat company sent me their new NeatDesk for Mac scanner and its NeatWorks software to review. I have been a Fujitsu ScanSnap loyalist for the past two years, so I wasn’t super excited about doing the NeatDesk review. In fact, I tested one of their mobile scanners a year ago and was so disappointed with it that I didn’t even post the review to the site (why clutter up your time with an awful review?).
To my surprise, however, I liked the NeatDesk for Mac. Specifically, I really liked the NeatWorks software. (If you buy the scanner, the software comes with it. The software also sells as a stand-alone product.)
The physical scanner is basic. It was easy to assemble, simple to install, is speedy, and it has a streamlined, uncluttered design:
What I want to talk about more in-depth is the accompanying software. Like most other programs, it automatically straightens scans, has text OCR and a document feeder, can automatically generate PDFs, and has settings for color, black/white, and image-only. Where it stands apart from other programs is with its field mapping on business card scans (it generates a contact card in Address Book with the data populated straight from the scan), it supports third-party scanners (Fujitsu, Canon, HP), and it allows you to create custom field values (this is great if you scan both business and personal receipts on the same scanner, so you can have drop-down menus for different credit cards, etc.).
Additionally, I liked that I could create custom reports based on my scans. If I wanted to pull up only my receipts from May 2009, I can do that and have the cover page reflect that information. If it’s a nice receipt, the software will also map vendor, date, and amount fields, similar to how it does with business cards. However, I only got this to work twice out of 10 times because I usually crumple up my receipts when I stick them into my purse and the text wasn’t very clear on the receipt when I scanned it. (I think of this as user error, not the program’s failing.) Here is an example of a good scan:
My only real complaint is that color paper seems to throw off all field-mapping abilities. If a piece of paper, receipt or business card isn’t black and white, it won’t map the information well, if at all. Take for example, my business card:
My card is just white text on a green background, and the software program didn’t map any data off of it. Actually, the system initially thought it was an image, not a business card. I was able to type all of the accurate information in by hand, so it doesn’t completely mess up the system, but I still wish it were more accurate. That being said, a lot of document feed scanning software systems have the exact same problem. In my opinion, it’s not a reason to keep from buying the software.
I think the scanner is fine, but I strongly recommend the NeatWorks software for Mac to use with whatever scanner you own. The software was extremely convenient and performed very well. It is much better than the software that ships with the Fujitsu ScanSnap, is right around the same price as DevonThink Pro, NeatWorks is simple to use with Evernote, and it’s a great way to control paper clutter. It earns a big thumbs-up in my book.
And, my cat Charlie is a big fan of its storage box: