Sunday, April 15, 2012

Review on Neat Desk Scanner

Review: Neat Desk –  A Scanner Revolution

A company called Neat is taking a stand against disorganization and clutter. Their new product Neat Desk is the top of the line device from this company that wants to get you organized. It might just have a shot at doing that. If you’re a small business owner or busy professional, take a minute from your busy schedule for this, it might save you time in the long run.

To Clarify, the company Neat, makes Neat Desk and the accompanying software (Neat Works). Neat Desk is a scanner that innocuously hides and looks cool and waits for you to feed it receipts, documents, flyers, business cards and anything else you pick up throughout your busy day and need to have on file, indexed, and backed up.


Visually the Neat Desk is a tribute to minimalism. In a good way. In fact we liked it so much we opted to pair it with a mac for this review since the aesthetics are right on par. It’s extremely well thought out. There’s almost nothing to it at first glance and everything you can see is clearly understandable. Two shiny buttons, a document feeder that explains itself. And much like my favorite childhood cartoon – it’s a transformer. With a cleverly hidden document catcher that slides out and unfolds.
It’s simple, shiny and monolithic appearance makes it look classy and neutral and not out of place in any nice home or business. So we like how she looks but how does she handle? (For the last statement, the Neat Desk is a female).
The Neat Desk - For Real

Functionality (Physical)

There are two aspects to the Neat Desk, one is hardware, how it physically works and the other is software. We’ll focus first on hardware. As stated, it’s a looker, and in terms of how it actually works is very impressive as well. You may be dreading the idea of scanning endless documents or receipts, however it couldn’t be any easier or faster. The feeder at the top is clearly labeled for a variety of documents and can hold around 10-30 pages of stuff depending on the paper thickness etc. Once you hit ‘scan’ it automatically feeds page after page through it at lightning speed. Scanning one or both sides of the document simultaneously. Did we mention simultaneously? That’s pretty cool.

The physical speed and scanning speed are nothing short of astonishing, particularly in black and white but even in color you will plow through 20 double sided documents in *20 seconds (black & white) or 35 seconds (color) respectively. It’s possible to wipe out a huge pile of documents in no time at all.
(*note that these are just the times we experienced and they can vary)
Neat Works Screenshot (Mac)
Neat Works Screenshot (Mac)

Functionality (Software)

While the Neat Desk Software is available on both platforms, Mac and PC, we’ve opted to do the majority of our testing on the mac platform. Although evidence suggests that the software is equally capable and well thought out on both platforms. Neat Works is the suite that comes with the scanner to make it all come together. It’s a powerhouse hidden beneath a few simple buttons and options that belies how many technologies they’ve tied together behind the scenes.

You can quickly do a custom scan, or re-configure the ‘Scan’ button on the scanner to do one of many different styles and tasks. It can auto-detect certain documents and arrange them accordingly. It OCR (Optical Character Recognition) recognizes a variety of texts, layouts, fliers, business cards. It’s all well-executed and deadly simple. So simple your wouldn’t be amiss giving one to your grandmother to backup her recipes and receipts, or whatever it is that old people scan nowadays.

It’s easy to change from single to double sided, black and white to color, and tell it where to dump the data. You can even do a dumb-scan or by default it will try to recognize all the text and text fields you throw at it. Processing them in the background and figuring out what it all means. It’s wretched at handwriting but so is any OCR software. Text, even roughly printed text, seems to work pretty well. We especially love the way it loads in pre-determined fields for receipts and saves you even more time.

Built in Document Sorter in Action
Built in Document Sorter in Action


After we got done poking and prodding the Neat Desk we got down to really trying it out. Dumping documents in that needed to be backed up and organizing our data using nothing but Neat Works. It smoothly shot out PDF’s of important documents, double sided scans of irreplaceable text, and even photos, fliers and business cards with the same supersonic speed and accuracy. On the few rare occasions where it jammed, there’s a handy little tab to open the whole thing up. So you really can’t screw yourself too badly.

The ability to program the ‘SCAN’ button to do our regular workload bidding made coming home with a dozen business cards and receipts and just feeding them into the scanner and hitting a single button, a reality. We really managed to get some work done and reduce the clutter of our desks with this mighty machine. I can’t speak for it’s longevity (although we’ve had no problems) but it’s a fast little machine that just gets out of the way and does the job at hand with very little fuss.


We’re big fans of Neat Desk and Neat Works. What the company is accomplishing with aplomb, is turning us paper-stacking, disorganized professionals, into lean, mean, and overtly neat, machines. That’s not a bad thing. With a retail of $399 (US) this is nothing to take lightly as a purchase, but rest assured it’s definitely a write off for your small business. If you’ve got a desk covered in things you can’t afford to lose, this is quite simply, a godsend.  For those of us that are more thrifty or simply only need to track receipts they also have a receipt scanner available that costs less and becomes your own mini accountant.

We can say with confidence that this product is well made and a winner in it’s category. Hell it might even define a new category. The seamless and super-clean pairing of hardware, software and smart-thinking feels like the future, and dare we say, makes business a little more fun.

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