There was a time when a scanner, or even two, was essential gear in every office. But nowadays, in the age of cloud computing and mobile devices, many of us find we rely less and less on scanners because they’re so cumbersome. That doesn’t change the fact that many of us still occasionally need to scan a document. Here’s an easier way.
The NeatConnect scanner from Neat could well be the first scanner of the cloud era. It’s a wireless appliance – you don’t need a PC at all. Just plug it in, point it to your Wi-Fi network, and you’re in business. You do all the setup from the small color touchscreen -- from entering cloud service credentials to selecting scanner settings. Following a simple, one time set-up, you can scan directly to your favorite cloud service.
NeatConnect supports Dropbox, Evernote, SkyDrive, Box, Google Drive, and even FTP, not to mention Neat’s own NeatCloud service. Using the scanner is almost Apple-esque in its simplicity. Insert the document you want to scan, and flip through the various connected services on the small color display on the front of the scanner. When you find the one you want, tap. The interface is simple and easy to understand.
The scanner's dimensions are average for a desktop document scanner. It has an appealing wedge shape, and scans at a maximum resolution of 600dpi. It can perform a full duplex scan in a single pass. The scanner has slots for full size documents, business cards and receipts.
When used with the NeatCloud service, business cards and receipts are smartly character read and stored in a virtual filing cabinet with all of the relevant text scraped and stored in a database for export or manipulation. NeatCloud comes at a cost, though. It’s a subscription service that runs anywhere from $60 to $240 per year, depending upon which tier you choose. When you add that to the already high cost of the scanner -- $469 – the expense becomes outrageous. You can use NeatConnect without the NeatCloud service, though, if you can live without the business card and receipt filing and transcription.
NeatConnect works like a charm. It is effortlessly magical. Having a standalone scanner – unconnected to any PC – that sends documents online from a simple on-screen display – is a revelation. It’s sure to make you more likely to archive documents digitally, since the whole process is so effortless.
Photo courtesy Neat