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NeatDesk Scanner Turns Receipts Into Organized Data

NeatDesk Scanner Turns Receipts Into Organized Data

The NeatDesk, left, here connected to a laptop, is a high-speed desktop scanner and digital filing system that scans receipts, business cards and documents.

Edward C. Baig | USA Today

Reach into your pockets after a business trip. You’ve got business cards, crumpled receipts and perhaps other scraps of paper with information needed for databases, expense reports and tax time. Dealing with this mess of paper is as much fun as visiting the dentist.

The new NeatDesk desktop scanner I’ve been testing can help you through this drill. It combines a speedy sheet-fed scanner with digital filing-system software called NeatWorks 4.0 that neatly sorts and organizes the information. For now, the scanner works with Windows only; a Mac version is expected in 2009.

The machine arrives care of Philadelphia-based The Neat Co., which only recently changed its name from NeatReceipts. That’s also the name of the clever mobile scanner that put the company on the map.

Alas, organization and clutter reduction are costly. The NeatDesk hardware-software combination commands $500, a shock to anyone who sees scanners these days advertised for as little as $100.

Of course, NeatDesk is a specialized scanner that should appeal mostly to small-business owners or folks like me who methodically track expenses with Quicken or Microsoft Money. You can also export data to Excel, Word, TurboTax or QuickBooks accounting software. You can sync contacts with Outlook or the Plaxo online address book.

Let’s take a closer look.

•The basics.

The new scanner isn’t designed to be easily portable like NeatReceipts. It weighs just over 4 pounds and is about the size of a bathroom scale. It’s white, black and handsome propped up on a desktop.

Any scanner can convert paper into electronic images: The NeatDesk scanner makes it a breeze at the press of a single button. Actually, there are just two physical buttons on the front of the machine, either for a regular scan or to create a searchable Adobe PDF file from a scanned document. The on/off switch is in the rear.

Bit of advice: Heed the warning about closing all other programs before installing Neat’s software. My initial setup failed when I did not do that.

For the most part, everything went fine from there, though I did have to call tech support to figure out why I was having a problem sharing data with Quicken. Neat provides a series of handy video tutorials on the Web to walk you through the product’s capabilities.

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