Drowning in Paperwork? The NeatDesk Scanner Test

Paper scanner and digital filing system

Viewpoints asked top female bloggers to try out the NeatDesk Desktop Scanner + Digital Filing System ($399.95).

It’s tax time, and who isn’t feeling overwhelmed by paperwork? You’re running out of file space for the paper you have, and what you need, you can’t immediately find. And if that weren’t bad enough, there’s the pressure to decide what to save and what to throw away.

If you run your own business or attend conferences outside the office, you collect business cards. Everything you buy comes with a receipt. And then there are the documents that you have legal reasons to keep — like those tax returns, contracts and property titles.

Testing the NeatDesk

NeatDesk Desktop Scanner and Digital Filing System

The NeatDesk promises to “create tax or expense reports with your receipt data and export to Excel, Quicken, or TurboTax. Find what you need with a keyword and organize it however you like.”

Members of the Viewpoints Blogger Reviews Panel, along with Viewpoints CEO Matt Moog, recently tested a product holding great promise: the NeatDesk Desktop Scanner + Digital Filing System ($399.95). Our partnership with these veteran female bloggers is straight-forward. Viewpoints provides the product; the bloggers test and provide honest reviews. In this instance, Viewpoints purchased all seven units directly from the Neat Company at a special media rate of 50% off, and the bloggers were free to continue using the product (or not) when the test was over.

About NeatDesk

The Neat Company was founded in 2002 with the goal of making products to help you scan and store all of your important digital and paper documents in one useful, organized place – on the desktop, on your smartphone or tablet and accessible always, thanks to the Neat cloud. Simplification is highly desirable these days; feeling overwhelmed is unpleasant. Busy people generally crave products that will give them more control over their lives. Each of our testers unpacked the NestDesk box with a mix of excitement and apprehension. Was it too good to be true?

The positives

  • Size

It’s small (10.8”W x 7.5”D x 7.3”H) compared to most printers. It’s lightweight — and looks nice too.

One Good Thing by Jillee blogger

Jill Nystul

“Now it sits on a shelf within arms length of my desk at all times and gets a pretty steady work out! I have conveniently located the trash can directly underneath it and now after I scan it, I toss it! Ahhh….so liberating! I actually was so impressed with the NeatDesk that I purchased one for my bookkeeper. Now, instead of spending precious time trying to tame the paperwork monster, we can both focus on what we do best! A win-win in my book! ” –Jill Nystul, One Good Thing by Jillee

  • Set-up

The Chaos Chronicles blogger

Lian Dolan

With the exception of those using a netbook (see “The negatives”), the bloggers got the NeatDesk going right away.

“I was slightly freaked by the set-up process because this is usually my downfall of any tech product– the first 5 minutes of ownership. But it was a simple step-by-step process that took about 20 minutes. After that, I got to work scanning and organizing.” –Lian Dolan, The Chaos Chronicles

  • Speed 

NeatDesk is faster than a printer scanner.

Marci Rich, The Midlife Second Wife

© 2012 Elli Morris – Marci Rich

“My favorite feature? The magic with which a scanned document or receipt converts into a crisp, readable PDF file simply by dragging it from the Table Pane in the Neat interface onto a computer’s desktop.” –Marci Rich, The Midlife Second Wife

The negatives

  • Technical hiccups

Both PC and Mac users had trouble with error messages and computer freezes.

Metro Moms Network blogger

Kathy Zucker

“As a partner in three companies, I typically save receipts and records as Adobe Acrobat .PDF documents. At the time of this review, I have had mixed success at downloading scanned documents in PDF. Smaller (six page) documents saved successfully once I selected “Automatically remove blank pages” in the settings. However, large tax documents kept generating error messages when I tried to export them.” –Kathy Zucker, Metro Moms Network

  • Not suited for netbooks

Along with the NeatDesk unit itself, there’s software to download via DVD. Two of our testers own a MacbookAir (without a DVD player) and had to contact the company for help getting started.

  • Image quality

Matt Moog NeatDesk review

Viewpoints CEO Matt Moog

The self-described “avid tech user” in the group was not impressed with the NeatDesk.

“When I went to test the Neat scanner I was excited that it might make things even easier, faster or somehow better. Instead it seems to be a step back from my current set of tools. I will be not be using the Neat scanner going forward. So what was wrong you ask? Let me count the ways: 1) I use a MacBook Air and had to contact the company to find a way to install the software without a DVD. Strike one. 2) Strike two frankly is that they require any software at all. 3) Strike 3 is the scan of a simple page was low quality. Like very low quality. And the first time I went to scan it did not work and I had to shut down my computer. Oh and did I mention their software was frozen and I had to do a force quit? And I have no desire to store my scans in their proprietary management application. They should integrate with Dropbox and Evernote and others rather than try to push their own application.” –Matt Moog, Viewpoints CEO

Summary

Based on these seven reviews, Viewpoints gives the NeatDesk 80 out of 100 points — below the average scanner rating of 87/100.

VIDEO: Members of the Viewpoints Blogger Reviews Panel offer quick comments about the NeatDesk Desktop Scanner + Digital Filing System.

If you’re new to scanning technology, you’ll probably be happy.  It certainly beats staring at a pile of unsorted docs and the dread that creates. But just be aware that at $400, you’re getting a product not yet perfected.

Randi Chapnik-Myers and Mara Shapiro

Mara Shapiro (right) and Randi Chapnik-Myers

“Some caveats: learning how to file your documents, make spreadsheets, etc will take time. Also the scanning isn’t foolproof, so while it’s really amazing how the software can actually populate fields from receipts, you do need to check to make sure everything is accurate.” — Mara Shapiro, momfaze

Blogger at Freaky Perfect

Amy Bradley-Hole

Amy Bradley-Hole offers Viewpoints users this bottom line:

“While it does have some technical issues, it’s worth using. It’s become a part of my daily routine.”

If you’d like helpful details (and screen shots — including a scanned recipe for Hot Crackers), head over to Amy’s blog, Freaky Perfect.

Do you have a NeatDesk? Please join the conversation and write a review>>

Editor’s note: NeatDesk spokesperson Cassandra Grob followed up with Viewpoints on concerns about the software DVD: “Users with netbooks can download the software by visiting the “Downloads” portion of Neat’s website. There is no need to contact a service representative to receive this information. You can visit the download center here and use the key code located on the software cd.”

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Editor’s note: If you have professional experience with office appliances, Viewpoints is recruiting experts in priority product categories to write for our blog. Check out this overview of the Viewpoints Category Expert Program, including qualifications, compensation and how to apply.

Carol Fowler Carol Fowler (53 Posts)

Carol's background is broadcast journalism, and for nearly two years, she led the content team at Viewpoints. In 2014, Carol co-founded Queue Digital to help news organizations leverage the explosion in mobile to grow a new audience for their awesome content.