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 gift guide for the frequent / business traveler

Unlike what many people think, business travel is not the jetset playboy lifestyle the TV makes it appear to be. You are frequently stuck in bad hotels, flights are delayed or canceled, and the little spare time you have, is wasted to create expense reports.

In this Gadling gift guide, we have compiled some of the best business traveler kit on the market. Some are there for your entertainment, others just help get some work done more efficiently, leaving more time for fun.

(Photo from Flickr/garybembridge)Callpod Fueltank Duo

As we become more dependent on our gadgets, we also become dependent on battery life lasting as long as a work day. The Callpod Fueltank won a spot in the Gadling top 10 gadgets of 2009 – and rightfully so. It can charge 2 gadgets at the same time, using the same power tips as on the Callpod Chargepod multi-device charger.

Price: $49.95
Product page: Callpod Fueltank

The Art Of Shaving travel kit

When you are on the road a lot, you tend to miss the comforts of home. One way to pamper yourself (or a loved one) is with some nice travel friendly toiletries. The Art Of Shaving produces a lineup of high quality shaving products, as well as some great travel friendly sized kits.

Their TSA friendly shaving kit contains a badger hair shaving brush, pre-shave oil, shaving cream and some after-shave balm. That way, even in the crappiest of hotels, you’ll be able to get a really nice comforting shave.

Price: $50
Product page: The Art Of Shaving

Briggs & Riley Baseline 20″ Upright

Frequent travel requires good reliable luggage. When you start traveling for business is when it is usually the best time to dump that old $40 rolling bag you got when you were 18. The Briggs & Riley Baseline collection consists of some great looking luggage, designed for the rigors of the airport and overhead compartment.

Price: From $259
Product page: Briggs & Riley Baseline Collection
Gadling review: September 2009

Moshi voice control alarm clock

The Moshi voice control travel alarm clock is the cure for the common hotel alarm clock. Most hotels provide an alarm clock that requires a complicated array of button presses to get the time set correctly – and if you are lucky, it will actually work. The Moshi clock lets you program the time, and alarm using your voice. With simple commands you get the right wake up time programmed. It can even tell you the temperature in your room.

Price: $24.95
Product page:
Gadling review: November 2009

NeatReceipts Moible Scanner + filing system

The NeatReceipts system is perfect for people who have to deal with the hassles of complex expense reporting. Instead of collecting all your receipts in a plastic bag, you simply scan them with the portable scanner, and let the filing software take care of the rest. At the end of your trip, you let the software produce a report, ready to file and speed up your reimbursement.

In addition to expense report creation, the scanner and software can scan regular documents and business cards.

Price: $199.95
Product page: NeatReceipts

HP Mini 5101 Business class netbook

The HP Mini 5101 builds on the runaway success of netbook size computers, but adds a touch of business friendly features. A specially coated full-size keyboard, 3D driveguard protection and options for integrated 3G make this the perfect companion for someone that wants to travel lighter, without compromises.

Price: From $399 (depending on configuration)
Product page: HP Mini 5101
Gadling review: November 2009

Sling Media Slingbox Solo

Even the most workaholic business traveler needs some entertainment every now and then – and the Slingmedia Slingbox can be the perfect tool to accomplish that. This $180 devices takes your home TV signal, and streams it directly to your PDA, iPhone, laptop or Blackberry, anywhere in the world you can get online. You get full control over your home cable box or TiVo, and even get remote access to a TV guide.

Price: $179.99
Product page: Sling Media Slingbox Solo

hField Technologies Wi-Fire

Crappy Wi-Fi signals are one of my biggest hotel pet peeves. It doesn’t matter how upscale the brand, when you have a room with limited Internet connectivity, it can screw up your entire evening. The hField Technologies Wi-Fire adapter clips to your laptop screen (or sits on a table), and greatly boosts your ability to pick up a signal. In some cases, by more than 10x.

Price: $59.99
Product page: hField Technologies
Gadling review: September 2009

Plantronics Voyager Pro

Forget about every experience you ever had with a Bluetooth headset. The headsets of yesteryear were usually horrible for the listener, and the wearer. In some cases, the Plantronics Voyager actually sounds better than using your handset. Stylish design, great battery life and dual noise canceling microphones make for a very reliable headset. Of course, no amount of stylish design can prevent you from looking like a dork – so only wear your headset when you actually need to.

Price: $99.99
Product page: Plantronics Voyager Pro

Aaxa Technologies P2 Pico Projector

Gone are the days where you had to drag a 20lb projector through the airport in a flight-case. The Aaxa P2 is about the size of the iPhone, and produces enough light to display your presentation in a moderately dimmed room. And at the end of the day, you pop in a MicroSD card and watch some movies in your hotel room.

Price: $359.99
Product page: Aaxa Technologies P2
Gadling review: December 2009

Ipevo Skype phones

If your travels take you outside your local calling area, or anywhere else where a simple phone call costs a buck a minute, then you have probably already found the joy of Skype. Ipevo make a line of great Skype hardware, from the most basic handset, to a full conference phone with DSP noise cancellation.

Price: From $14.99
Product page: Ipevo
Gadling review: October 2009