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TUAW Review: NEAT Receipts, part 3


Using the scanner with other apps

How about using the NEAT Receipts scanner with other organization software like Yojimbo or Evernote? If you scan in documents as PDF files, you can use the NEAT Receipts scanner to grab documents for those other applications.

The scanner has only two buttons on top of it. One is marked SCAN and starts the scanning process. The other is marked PDF and is used if you want to save an image in PDF format. To test this, I took some checks from clients, placed them face-down into the maw of the scanner, and punched the PDF button. Immediately, a standard Mac Save As... dialog appeared, so I gave the file a name and pressed return. The scan of a standard voucher-sized check took about 30 seconds. At the end of that time, I had a very clear PDF file that I could just drag and drop onto Yojimbo. For the native version of Evernote, I had to create a new note and then drag the PDF onto the note. Once Evernote had synced with the online database, I was able to view my new PDF from the web client.

I decided to use the scan-to-PDF feature of the NEAT Receipt software to capture business cards into Evernote. Previously, I had used Evernote's iSight Note capability, but the results were often blurry and I could see my fingers holding the cards. Scanning the files with the NEAT Receipt scanner meant that the results of Evernote's online OCR were much better, so searching business cards became a lot more accurate.

Another feature of the scanner that I love is that there is no power brick -- it is bus-powered, so there is one less weighty power supply that I need to drag along with me on trips. The scanner has a simple straight-through paper path that prevents jams, and it handled flimsy receipts, business cards, and full US Legal sized documents (8-1/2" x 14") without a hitch. NEAT Receipts says the scanner can handle documents down to 1" by 1" (2.54 cm x 2.54 cm) in size.

The NEAT Receipt software has several different ways of viewing scanned documents, all of which should be familiar to Leopard users. There's an item view, an icon view, and an Image Flow view that is supposed to work like Cover Flow. Unfortunately, I could never get the Image Flow view to work properly - I saw the currently selected document but there was no way to flip between the documents.

The Competition

There are other "compact" scanners on the market. Fujitsu's ScanSnap S300M is one of the more popular compact Mac scanners in the field right now. It has several advantages, including double-sided scanning and a 10-page sheet feeder, but is larger and much heavier -- about 3 pounds (1.4 kg.). The ScanSnap also has dedicated business card OCR software (Cardiris) and a heftier price tag -- $295 MSRP.

The Pentax DSmobile 600 scanner is less expensive than the rest at $135 MSRP and is about the same size and weight as the NEAT Receipt scanner. However, it does not include any Mac-specific software and is meant for use as a TWAIN-compatible scanner for use with other applications.

Finally, the IRIScan 2 Portable Scanner ($149) comes with a full suite of software for business card, text, and photo scanning. It's an 11.7 ounce (332 gram) lightweight that could be the only real competition to the NEAT Receipts scanner.

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