Business travelers – dump your paper load with NeatReceipts – the Gadling Review

Unless you travel for business, you’ll rarely have to worry too much about receipts, invoices, business cards and other documents. But those that do travel for business have to deal with the hassles of paperwork on a weekly basis.

The NeatReceipts product is designed to turn all those paper receipts and documents into digital copies, but takes those copies one step further by using its desktop software to create an electronic file, ready to email to your accounting department.

The NeatReceipts package consists of a compact scanner, scanner cleaning kit and of course, the NeatWorks software.
So – how well does the package perform at helping you file all your receipts? In one word – superbly. I threw a whole assortment of receipts at the scanner and its software, and it managed to scan, recognize and file every single receipt without a single problem.

The software actually converts your receipts to text, and it recognizes most major store names, product categories and more. Of course, this means you can just feed it a whole stack of receipts, and with just a couple of minutes of your day, you’ll scan, organize and file all those stupid paper receipts.

Expenses can be filed by client, location, project, purpose and period end. Once you are ready to submit your expenses, you can create a report in PDF, Excel, Word or even as a web page (in HTML). The expense reports are created in a format approved by the IRS, which makes tax time even easier.

In addition to being your best expense report buddy, the software will also use its character recognition strength to help file your business cards. If you are like me, you’ll have 100’s of business cards on your desk. The NeatWorks package does a really good job at scanning cards, and making them file-ready.

In my experience, the package manages to correctly recognize about 90% of the business cards I let it scan, those that it failed with were all odd designs or cards with the information printed in a weird format. Still, I was able to take a stack of 140 business cards, and have every single one filed in about 30 minutes (including the time it took to scan and manually correct some cards).

Once scanned and filed, the newly created contacts can be exported as vCards, PDF reports or even synced with Outlook or Plaxo.

The scanning features don’t stop with receipts and business cards – the desktop software package also does a really good job at scanning normal documents. Just like with the receipts portion, the document section allows you to file documents in their own folders,

The Quick Scan Center is as impressive as the desktop filing package. When you need to scan something, you simply press the “scan” button on the scanner, and the Quick Scan Center does all the rest for you, including detecting what kind of document you are working with. Because documents are added to a processing queue, you can scan as many items as you want, without having to wait for the software to finish decoding the image.

If you just want a quick scan to PDF, you press the PDF button on the scanner, name the document, and 20 seconds later you have a PDF version of your scan on your PC.

The NeatReceipts scanner weighs just over 10 ounces, and is compact enough to be packed in your carry-on laptop bag. It does not require a power supply, and operates off a single USB connector. The scanning resolution is 600DPI, which is perfect for documents, but also quite sufficient if you’d like to scan the occasional photo or other color document. Because it is a sheet-feed scanner, you won’t be able to scan magazines or anything other than single sheets.

PROS: Incredibly accurate receipt recognition, lightweight scanner, supports receipts, business cards and documents
CONS: Scanner only accepts single sheets (The Neat Company does make a desk based scanner with a sheet feeder)

All in all, a real “must have” if you deal with a lot of paperwork. Even if you don’t have to suffer through weekly expense reports, the document management and business card scanning features alone make this a very worthwhile package. The scanner is lightweight, and the software is very easy to use.

The NeatReceipts package (mobile scanner and software) retails for $199.95 and is available directly from The Neat Company. A Mac version of the package is also available for the same price.

GADLING’S TAKE FIVE: Week of December 24

Before you start rattling off with excuses about how the family was visiting from Buffalo or how you got tied up under the mistletoe, please do me one small favor. Spare the sob story. I don’t care why you couldn’t get here or what could have been more important than getting your travel fix, but you’re lucky that I’m nice and feeling the holiday spirit for I’m giving you the gift of checking out what you missed!

5. Would You Like Polonium With That?:

Folks following the case of the Russian spy that was poisoned might be interested in filling their mouths with the very same cuisine the spy was noshing on when things went awry and sour in his stomach. Iva informs us that the Itsu in London isn’t doing so well at the moment and one can understand why, but the newest location in NYC is thriving. Someone daring enough to try the hamachi?

4. He’s BaaaaaacK! Michael Jackson in Vegas:

I’m not going to say a whole lot here. Erik already did a fine job of that, but in short the King of Pop shall be performing in Vegas. C’mon you know and I know you’re dying to see Mike!

3. Emirates Airlines to Allow Cell Phone Talk on Flights:
Starting in January 2007, Emirates Airlines will be the first to allow cell phones use during flights. If you’re not a fan of cell phones in general or someone babbling in your ear it may be time to invest in some ear plugs.

2. Expense Reports: The Bane of Travel Writers:

Okay, this is funny because if you’ve ever needed a receipt for any job, not just travel writing you can relate. Expense reports are just not fun, but such is what must be done when traveling on the company’s dollar.

1. Not Taking Vacation! Shame on You!:
This is too hard to believe. There are people (American people) who actually don’t take their vacation days off. It is just jaw-dropping. We’re not saying take the one or two weeks and go to Tonga, but geez, give yourself the opportunity to kick back at home and watch the Discovery Channel for crying out loud. Take a break!