7,790 of 7,900 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2009
[See end for tip to get the best scan results from someone who's been using this for 5 years.]
I purchased a NeatDesk scanner awhile ago to answer a growing need at home for more robust scanning. I'm one of those people that needs to have everything neatly filed away even though I will probably never see it again. I also religiously enter all my personal receipts and track my personal finances in detail. This seemed the perfect product to answer both needs.
I was used to the Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 that I have at work, but in addition to an arm they also wanted a leg. The price of the NeatDesk is substantially less (about 40% for what I paid), and the promotional material for the scanning software was really sexy. So I clicked buy.
After a few days, my conclusion is that although it could be an outstanding product with a couple of tweaks, it's just not ready for primetime. This may be the case of a small company working on tight margins with a product that got too big too fast. It remains to be seen whether or not they can keep up with their new-found popularity.
Here's the dirt:
- Attractive design.
- You can click the hardware "Scan" button all day, but you don't have to file your scans until you want to.
- No adjustable paper guide. Unless you hold it as it's sucked in, every single document is crooked.
- Not enough paper support. Creased documents (like a bill) flop back and aren't grabbed properly.
- I found the slot for receipts and documents to not match any receipt or document I had... Nice slot for business cards though.
- The output tray is not attached to the scanner body. Huh?
- It came with the grim spectre of having to clean and calibrate your scanner. You don't have to clean or calibrate the ScanSnap, although the ScanSnap does include "consumables", so maybe it's a tie.
- Recognizes dates, subtotal, sales tax, and credit card used. This alone almost makes the product an overall winner and definitely put it on top for scanning receipts.
- As mentioned above, you don't have to file away your scans until you want to.
- Extremely fast search.
- It's pretty--yeah, that's important.
- Always takes the scan from the front but from the sheet in the back, which may be more intuitive for the beginner, but also means that a stack of double-sided sheets will go into the software backwards (page 2, 1, 4, 3, etc.) so you'll have to sort your document before and after scanning. Maybe I just haven't figured this one out, but it does seem like they emphasis multiple single-page documents vs. one multiple-page document.
* UPDATE: I figured out that you have to put the document in face up and everything is scanned in from the last page to the front. Your physical document will come out sorted, and the software will reverse the order of the scanned pages for you so the electronic document is correct.
- Does not auto-rotate to fix crooked problem caused by not having adjustable paper guides.
- Does not do auto-color detection--it's either all black-and-white or all color and you must choose. Those "Scan" and "PDF" buttons on the front are great, but you have to go into the Quick Scan application to set up how everything will be scanned first, defeating the convenience.
- Viewing the documents that are in the library is difficult. Should have a simple hand-tool for dragging and allow multiple documents to be open at one time.
- Moving data around the library is laborious.
- Software installs SQL Server Express, which takes up system resources and at least for me causes the program to not want to start up (try again message a couple of times before starting). Sure the search results come back very quickly, but at what cost? As a developer, I actually already had SQL Server Express installed, but it went ahead and installed another instance... Not very nice.
- Lots of opportunities to categorize data, but searching for the categories is difficult. For example, to see what you marked for follow up click "Advanced Search", click "Looking at..." and select "Action Type", click "Selected in the List", click and check box that says "Follow Up". It's more work finding out what's marked "follow up" than to actually follow up.
- The heavy emphasis is on recording receipts for expenses that will be reimbursed by your employer or be tax deductible. So what happens when I have a pay stub for consulting work? I have to file it as a document where I can't tag it's dollar amount, can't tag it as 1099 income, and it can't be exported to Quicken. That's one of the main reasons I got the scanner.
- Categories for receipts are very limited. Need a split? You'll have to do it yourself when you get to Quicken if you can remember what the receipt was for. Sales tax is always exported as an over-generalized "State Tax".
How it Could (Easily) be Made Great
- Package in or sell another paper guide that is adjustable. You can use the same snap-in style that is used for the receipt/business card guide.
- Add one inch to the pull-out paper support.
- Update the software to take scans from the face down position first on double-sided scans. Take the scan from the face down position only in single-sided scans.
* UPDATE: Even though this way seems more intuitive to me, the way the software does it is okay (see update above).
- Add in auto-color detection and auto-rotate so that scans always come out right. If Neat Co can do awesome text-detection, they could do this.
Seems to be an innovative company so I'll keep it in anticipation of at least the software updates.
UPDATE After 2 Years: After having owned this product for a good while I have to say it's worked fairly well for what it is. During this time I made the switch to a Mac and the Mac version of the NeatWorks software was a huge improvement. (From what I understand, the PC software seems to have caught up somewhat.) For the most part it has done what I want it to: scan a few receipts for expense reports but mostly documents of 10 pages or less. I tried to scan my mortgage documents of about 60 pages, but it kept grabbing multiple pages. I had to scan in batches and grab a beer (darn).
It still does weird things though. For example, sometimes it will scan and not fully eject the document and after a moment will display blinking red lights. Other times it will whisk the document through and the document ends up with a large black area at the top.
At the end of the day, for the casual home user who doesn't mind taking a little extra time to scan, this is probably a best buy. For the business user who will frequently be scanning large documents, the Fujitsu products will probably be a better fit, especially since their price is now a lot closer to the NeatDesk.
UPDATE After 5 Years: It's still alive and scanning. I've finally learned the secret to getting great scans from this thing. Always select Color mode and choose Quick scanning so it will only scan the image. If you have a black and white page, open the document and convert to B&W as necessary. You'll actually end up with a much better final image be it color or B&W. It seems like the scan process is a lot more reliable with fewer page eject issues or software hangs.
1,781 of 1,855 people found the following review helpful
I went to the store looking for the Neat Receipts scanner, and I came across this new product. I could not be more happy for buying it! I had 4 years worth of credit card and bank statements piled up in boxes, and with this scanner system I was able to scan them and organize them on my computer in less than a day (I'm talking hundreds of pages).
I have absolutely no complaints on this (other than the price, which is high, but it is a new product and it will come down).
The scanner can read 2 sided documents and scan both sides, in color! And it does it fast.
It also reads receipts and business cards and extracts the information from them (such as what store the receipt is from, how much total was, how much tax was, date of transaction, etc...) The best part about this feature is that it lets you edit the information (sometimes necessary if the receipt was very worn or wrinkled.
The software is extremely easy to use and very powerful. A great feature about the scanner/software is that you can load a bunch of pages and start scanning them. While they scan you can work on filing other documents. Once the pages are scanned they go into a sort of "inbox" where they wait for you to look at them and decide where to file them.
The two sided, color scanning is great and very fast. Another convenient feature the program has is the ability to combine several pages into one document. All you do is click on the different pages while holding down control and click combine ... and you have one file for a multi page document!
All the files you scan into the program are searchable, so you can enter a search term and it will bring up all the documents (or receipts or business cards, depending on which section you are searching in). Very handy to search back on when you bought something...
Another great feature for those that do not receive paper statements is the pdf import feature! If you get your statements from online, you can still import the file into the program (as if you had scanned it in yourself) and have the searchable capabilites of the other files.
Keep in mind, this is probably not a good scanner to scan pictures with, but for a document scanner, it is fast, and very good. I just hope it lasts the wear and tear I'm subjecting it to right now. I am very thankful that this product has helped me get rid of all of my paper clutter!!!
1,088 of 1,180 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2009
I really really really wanted to like this scanner. I received the unit on Friday and had planned on spending Saturday scanning in all my documents and then relaxing on Sunday. I am sooooo disappointed with the quality of the scans and software when scanning in documents like car insurance or doctors statements that I am sending it back.
The main issue is that the manufacture's web site states that the scanner can scan grayscale and B/W documents in at a rate of 25 PPM. This is an outright lie on one level and a stretching of the truth on another level.
First let me start off with the truth stretching. The scanner is very fast while scanning in B/W images but it did not seam like it was 25 PPM fast so I timed it using a stop watch. I was able to scan in a page (two sides) in 6.4 seconds that's 10 PPM not 25! As Fujitsu rates their ScanSnap S1500M at 20 PPM whether you scan one or two sides, I assumed I would see the NeatDesk scanner do the same. Thinking that they (NeatCo) must have been playing with some slick marketing numbers when they came up with the 25 PPM rate I figured I would see the 10 PPM rate double to 20 if I only scanned one side of a page instead of two. I was very disappointed to see that the rate did not change between one or two sides. Normally I would think that 10 PPM is a very quick scan, which it is, but it is more than half as fast as advertised.
That was the truth stretching now onto the lie.
My main complaint is not the scan rate of B/W or grayscale scans. I would be very happy with a 10 PPM grayscale document scanner. The problem is that the scanner / software package does NOT scan in grayscale. The scanner DOES send the images to my iMac in GRAYSCALE and then the horrible software converts it to B/W. Yes you heard me right! They take a perfectly legible (8 bit, 256 levels of black) grayscale image and turn it into a very poor quality B/W (2 bit, 2 color) illegible image. I can't for the life of me understand why they would do such a thing.
If you are only interested in scanning in receipts, which by their nature are only black and white, then you might be happy with the software. Unfortunately about 95% of the stuff I wanted to scan is various types of documents / kids school work / insurance papers / medical records etc. If you have ever looked at these kinds of documents you will notice that most of them have shaded areas on the page that highlight important text. These shaded areas, along with the text, usually become unreadable when converted to B/W. Not only can I not able to read them the OCR can't detect them either. It makes me angry to see a scan show up on the screen that looks GREAT only to have it destroyed a few seconds later by the software as it converts it to black and white.
I contacted NeatCo about the ability to scan to grayscale. Their support person was very nice and polite; unfortunately she confirmed for me that the software does not support grayscale. Her response is at the end of the review.
You may think that I should just scan in color. Unfortunately scanning in color is very slow. A color scan took 15 seconds for a single sided page and 27.5 seconds for a single 2-sided page (weird that color scans do double the time for 2 sides unlike the BW option). At this rate it puts color scans in at 2 PPM not the 8.5 reported on their web site. At 2 PPM it will take me several hundred hours to scan everything I need to scan.
The quality of color scans is very good if you are willing to wait 30 seconds for a single 2-sided scan.
Here are my timing results for the BW, color, 1 side and 2 sided document. All times are for a single sheet of paper.
Page Sides | Color Mode |Time to Scan |Total time to scan & OCR 1st page
1 | Color | 15 sec | 52 sec
2 | color | 27 sec | 1:15 (m:sec)
1 | BW | 6.4 sec | 36 sec
2 | BW | 6.5 sec | 40 sec
Just for reference I have a late 2008 24'' iMac with 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 4 gigs of ram. I have also updated the NeatDesk software to their latest version as of 10/30/2009 which is 2.1.9
I have taken some screen shots of the grayscale images before they are converted to BW and will try to post them to Amazon. In the screen shots you can see that the initial image looks very nice. If NeatCo fixes this issue the package might be worth a look.
Here is the NeatCo response to my grayscale question.
Response (Campbell) - 10/29/2009 08:45 PM
There's no way to set to scan in a gray scale at this time. I will put in a feature request to our developers so they can include this capability in future releases.
Question Reference #091029-000359
Product Level 1: NeatDesk for Mac
Date Created: 10/29/2009 08:45 PM
Last Updated: 10/29/2009 08:45 PM
496 of 538 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2009
It appeared to save documents. It appeared to do huge backups - 8Gigs+. But when I tried to export to PDF, I get an error message. After six months of denial, customer service looked at the error log and confirmed that my documents are gone forever - and the paper copies have been discarded.
342 of 370 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2010
First off please be aware that there is NO PHONE SUPPORT any longer. Web support is sub par at best.
Second there is NO SECURITY OR PASSWORD PROTECTION. You are more than likely going to scan sensitive information (name, address, ssn, etc), but there is no security on the database ie) anyone has access.
Third the software development/updates will render your old database unusable. I updated to win7 64 bit and now I cannot import my old database. So now I have LOST 2 YEARS OF PAPERWORK. Web support has been unable to help. It's now tax time and I am screwed. I find it hard to believe that the software developers did not provide for a direct upgrade path. There are thousands of users with data stranded.
I have a Fujitsu Scan Snap at work and I would highly suggest buyers purchase this instead of the NeatReceipts products. The scan snap is much faster, has better support, and I have never had to worry about losing everything.
449 of 488 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2009
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 ([...]) 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 document I already had on my system, a knitting pattern with smallish text and color pictures. I scanned the printed document back in and then used the NeatWorks software to export it to PDF. I ended up with a PDF that looks really close to the original, allowing for some quality loss from printing the color images.
All in all, I liked this scanner and as I said, if I were running a small business, I'd find it really useful. It's also really nice for folks who scan in regular documents because it saves them in a handy database for later searching or printing.
The newly added 64 bit support means this will be my 'main' scanner in the future.
472 of 514 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2009
I love this scanner, but I hate the software. I have the latest version of the software version 4 SP3. The help function is useless. For example if you want to delete a folder you created, the help tells you to select the folder and then use a "delete" option that doesn't exist.
- All I wanted to do was organize my scanned receipts and paperwork in folders I would create on my computer... VERY IMPORTANT to know that this software DOES NOT let you do that; but rather, requires that you use their proprietary records management system which is unfriendly, unintuitive, and non-responsive. If there was a way to use this wonderful, easy to set up scanner without their stupid, frustrating, lying sack of crap software it would be great. I'm still trying - but I'm getting the sinking feeling that I've WASTED MY MONEY. Really too bad because it's a beautiful piece of equipment.... Also when you try to get help through their chat system during their advertised hours - there's nobody home. Sincerely, John Graham
217 of 234 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2011
I've been a Neat Company Fan & Dedicated Customer for a long time. I had NeatReceipts for many years and then decided to upgrade to NeatDesk with NeatWorks Software on 9/16/10. I loved the faster scan times, scanning front & back, etc. Then, recently on 2/16/11, the software NeatWork lost all of my data. Luckily, I back up monthly so I was able to restore the data and only lost one month's of work. Then, I started noticing scanning problems with Wide Black Band Through Image. I immediately contacted customer service which is only available through their website by opening a case. A rep responded with some instructions to try and resolve the problem. I followed the instructions and the problem wasn't fixed. I updated the case by explaining this and I got the same instructions as a response. At this point, I figured out that customer service didn't exist. I asked why I was getting the same instructions after I reported the instructions followed did not fix the issue and then a different rep gave me different instructions. I followed those instructions without any success either. I updated the report and asked about the one year warranty since my purchase was within a year, and no response after that. I filed a compliant with the FTC, BBB and wanted others interested in this product to know before considering purchasing. What's funny is that the sales rep which is the only number provided try to sell me tech support annual fee. This is quite disappointing as I was a loyal fan. BUYER BEWARE!!! Customer service and warranty does not exist after purchase.
231 of 250 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2009
I spent days scanned thousands of pages of large, important docs into this scanner. Once I saw them, I discarded the originals. Only later did I learn that you cannot export anything larger than 100 pages, so the pages were visible only on the viewer. Still later, the file became corrupt, so I have irretrievably lost valuable and irreplaceable documents. After many hours of troubleshooting (and memory upgrades), Neat Receipt told me the file had become corrupted. They also acknowledged that there is no way to know from the documentation that they do not support 100+ page docs until you try to export one.
127 of 135 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2010
There is no telephone support offered for its products by The Neat Company. The offered email support is illusory. Repeated emails to Support elicit only automatic replies which are little more than an acknowledgement of receipt. The website and knowledge base are useless as they are not intuitive and offer no search function. The NeatWorks software will install on some Vista operating systems without a problem and fail on other Vista operating system. With the failures you are out of luck because there is no support.