22 Comments

Summary:

NEAT Receipts has been selling their pint-sized scanners and associated software for about five years now. Recently they put out an “advanced release” of their Mac software – the “advanced” part because it doesn’t yet have all the features of their established PC software. But it has plenty of useful features, and I took a review unit for a spin to see how well they worked.

ScreenshotNEAT Receipts has been selling their pint-sized scanners and associated software for about five years now. Recently they put out an “advanced release” of their Mac software – the “advanced” part because it doesn’t yet have all the features of their established PC software. But it has plenty of useful features, and I took a review unit for a spin to see how well they worked. The scanner, along with the associated software, retails for $179.95 directly from the company; you may be able to beat that price slightly through a retailer.

The actual scanner is indeed small enough to tuck into a large pocket, though you’ll probably want to put it in a bag with your laptop instead: about 11″ x 2″ x 1″. The software install was simple and (apart from requiring a reboot) painless. After that, the scanner connects to your Mac via a single USB cable. Put in a piece of paper, press the “scan” button, and your document is scanned, OCR’d, and put into the dedicated database that the software creates. There’s also a “PDF” button the creates an external PDF copy of whatever you’re scanning.

The scanner accommodates documents up to 8 1/2″ wide, and there doesn’t seem to be a particular length limitation. It can manage thin cardstock as well as single sheets, though I wouldn’t want to try putting something like a credit card through it. It appears to be quite well constructed, and I wouldn’t worry about it getting damaged through average web worker transportation (like getting tossed into a bag in an overhead bin).

The scanning speed is adequate for personal use, though a small business might end up pushing its limits. A full 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet with a bunch of printing on it took about 15 seconds to scan, and another 30 seconds for the software to trim and OCR the image and build a PDF out of it. Scanning isn’t blocked during the latter process. The OCR works well; searching quickly brought up documents I was looking for based on a single word. I would have liked to see the preview of the document highlight the found text, though.

The NEAT Receipts application offers reasonable basic functionality: storing documents in collections, creating “smart collections” (saved searches), adding metadata to documents (so you can categorize them, put in a vendor ID, or whatever else you like). One nice touch is the ability to sync any collection in the application to an external folder, with PDF copies of scanned documents ending up in the external folder.

Compared to the PC version, the software is missing a few features: if you’re working on a PC, you get a business card module and exporting to financial software. But NEAT Receipts say they’ll be putting out a new release in early 2009 with feature parity, and existing customers will get a free upgrade.

For its target market – the computer user on the go who needs a thoroughly portable scanner with good software for filing things – NEAT Receipts looks like a good fit. If you’re deskbound much of the time, or have a large volume of paper to deal with, you may want to look at something with a multi-sheet feeder, like the Fujitsu ScanSnap, instead. But as a tool for getting closer to the paperless traveling office at a good price, NEAT Receipts is definitely a winner.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. How do you feel that the Neat Receipts software compares to ReceiptWallet? http://www.receiptwallet.com/

    I have been trying to decide between buying Neat Receipts or ReceiptWallet with the Fujitsu ScanSnap.

    Any opinions?

  2. Mike Gunderloy Thursday, July 31, 2008

    I haven’t used ReceiptWallet myself (I manage my own scanned documents with Eagle Filer), but it looks like it has a pretty broad overlap with the NEAT Receipts software. Both are targeted at letting you maintain collections of documents with added metadata, and finding things quickly.

    When they bring the Mac software more into line with the Windows version on features, I think that NEAT will be ahead of ReceiptWallet as far as interfacing with other applications and keeping track for tax purposes goes.

    Against that, you need to balance out that the ScanSnap handles large documents better because you don’t have to feed in the documents one at a time. Because 95% of my own web work happens at one desk, I’m going to stick with the ScanSnap – but if I were more mobile, the 5-pound or so weight savings would switch me to NEAT instantly.

  3. Ultimate Phish Fighter Thursday, July 31, 2008

    Here’s my concern… when I scan in a receipt and throw it away – the manufacturer or store won’t take a copy of it.

  4. I have both NEAT Receipts and the ScanSnap. NEAT Receipts has software that knows a lot of retail stores receipt formats and will OCR the receipt pretty well – putting the prices and totals into the correct places. Works well for tax time. If you are a web worker like me you will find it hard to find time to actually scan in your receipts. You should never trash your receipts. Just put them into a box. NEAT receipts just makes it easier at the end of the year to do your taxes. I think the IRS accepts copies of receipts but you should never ever dispose of anything – they can audit your taxes beyond the 3 year cut-off.

    The ScanSnap is great at scanning larger docs fast. Really fast.

  5. Hi, I’m an employee of NeatReceipts. I wanted to address a couple of comments / questions. First, the IRS does accept digital images of receipts (IRS Revenue Procedure 97-22). With so many receipts now being printed on thermal paper, which fade in a few months, the digital copies can be a lifesaver if you’re ever audited.

    Second, whether a store or manufacturer will accept a copy of a receipt for exchanges or returns is retailer-specific. Many of the larger retailers do, however, if there’s a possibility I may exchange or return an item, I ask the clerk what their policy is.

    Finally, in regards to NeatReceipts vs Receipt Wallet, I’m obviously biased :) Our scanning and parsing technology is what makes us stand above the rest. Also, as mentioned in the original post, when Version 2 is released in early 09, the Mac version will be on par with the Windows version. There will be support for business cards, integration with financial management applications, etc. This makes NeatReceipts a powerful tool to not only digitize and organize your paper, but use the information and data on your paper.

    Hope this is helpful.

  6. You can download a demo of ReceiptWallet to try it out at:

    http://receiptwallet.com/download.html

    Works well for me.

  7. ReceiptWallet is Mac only application with many features that make it unique to the Mac with more coming. ReceiptWallet supports Spotlight, Disc burning (ability to burn CD/DVDs), encrypted libraries, many scanners (including the Fujitsu ScanSnap), multiple currencies, automatic updating of the application from within the application, iSight support, and more.

    While NeatReceipts has a better OCR engine, ReceiptWallet makes use of intelligent data entry to allow you to quickly enter data based on previous receipts. If OCR isn’t 100% accurate, you still have to go back and edit data to make sure it is correct which could be more time consuming than simply entering it in the first place.

    And lastly, we have announced that we are developing an iPhone version of ReceiptWallet that will be a companion to our desktop product.

    I invite people to download our demo and give it a test drive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us (contact information is on our site); we typically have < 24 hour response time on inquiries.

  8. For anyone considering purchasing Net Receipts (NR) you need to know they do not support Vista 64-bit. So if you purchase a new PC/laptop with the new O/S you will not be able to install NR on it. They also, per the technical support group, do not have any plans on adding the support.

  9. This is Jenn again, from NeatReceipts. We are not 64-bit compatible at this time (on the PC side), however, we do plan on supporting it in the future. I apologize you were provided with incorrect information. 64-bit support is not relevant or applicable to NeatReceipts for Mac.

    Also, intelligent text recognition is not 100% perfect, however, in NeatReceipts for Mac, if something is incorrect or missed, it can easily be dragged from the scanned receipt image and dropped into the appropriate field.

  10. From Mark: “I have both NEAT Receipts and the ScanSnap. NEAT Receipts has software that knows a lot of retail stores receipt formats and will OCR the receipt pretty well – putting the prices and totals into the correct places.”

    Does the store receipt recognition apply to only US stores or is it more broad based? I live in Canada.

    Thanks.

Comments have been disabled for this post