Published on October 9th, 2015 | by Greg0
NeatConnect: Scan To The Cloud, Anywhere!
Despite all of the technology that surrounds us, we still end up using (and saving) a whole lot of dead trees. The paperless office might have helped dramatically reduce the amount of filing, but if you run a business or work for yourself, you’re bound to end up with receipts and invoices and important documents by the ream. And you can try to stuff them away somewhere, but the better solution is to electronically store everything where it won’t take up any physical space at all.
That’s the promise of the NeatConnect, a wireless scanner aimed straight at small business and SOHO users. Like many office scanners, the hardware is only half of the equation, and we’ll look at both the product and the software a little more closely below. This is the big brother of the Neat Company’s family trio, which includes their small and compact, USB-powered NeatReceipts entry-level version as well as the middle sibling NeatDesk, which boasts similar specs as the Connect but lacks the wireless connectivity and requires a computer. With the NeatConnect, you don’t need to have a laptop or desktop handy, as it can scan directly to Neat’s cloud service (or others like Dropbox).
The unit makes an immediate and positive impression- it’s pretty large, well-built, and includes three different slots on the top to accommodate business cards, receipts, and regular letter-size paper, each able to hold up to 15 items. The automated document feeder was decent, but could catch on thin paper, and though the stated speed is 24 pages per minute in simplex mode, we noticed slower scan speeds in our tests. Capable of duplex (dual-sided scanning), it can capture up to 600 dpi, but it’s not built for regular office scanning or photography- it’s definitely built to handle documents, pure and simple. The soothing white color scheme and rounded edges are friendly, and the control panel is interesting, a touch screen built right into the center of the NeatConnect.
It’s important to note that a subscription is required for use of the Neat Premium Service, but one full year is included for free. We setup the scanner and tested out a whole sheaf of various items you’d expect to keep for tax time or regular accounting. Of course, we first had to create an account, and then figure out how to use the software- it has a little bit of a learning curve if you are used to other standard applications, but the OCR is fairly impressive (text was imported mostly correctly). There is a bit of lag- a few pauses during scanning and recognition and import- and non-Roman characters do present some issues as with most scanners that we’ve seen. We liked the inclusion of an SD card slot for saving documents, and TWAIN/VIA support for direct connection to your PC if you desire. And compared to our favorite competitor, the Fujitsu ScanSnap, we found crumpled receipts were easier to scan and process using the NeatConnect. It’s not quite magic, and for regular documents, was slower. But if you are looking for a nifty scanner that doesn’t require a computer, the NeatConnect is available now online and in stores for around $425.