with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
Sometimes neat things happen in connection with this blog. Like, I’ll say something and someone will email me and say, “Hey! I feel that way, too!” and that makes me feel moderately warm and fuzzy. Or someone will email and say, “Wow, I never thought of it that way. Thanks!” and I’ll feel even more warm and fuzzy. And then still other times, I’ll say something, and someone nice will email me and say, “Hey, want to try my product for free?”
It’s hard, being me. But not when that happens.
So, you may recall that a while ago I was going on and on about the office tools I adore, and I mentioned my NeatReceipts Scanner. And then a nice woman who works with Neat contacted me to ask if I’d like to take their newest baby, the NeatDesk for a trial spin. I said of course, because it’s shiny and you know how I like shiny things.
And so the NeatDesk showed up at my house and was promptly buried in one of my bazillion piles and it took me a month to dig it out.
(This wasn’t for lack of interest, by the way. Just lack of organization.)
Okay. So here’s the thing: All of the Neat scanners work with the same software, NeatWorks. I was already using NeatWorks with my NeatReceipts scanner, so there weren’t any surprises, there. What the NeatDesk gets me is a fancy feeder, sized for business cards or receipts or documents. It will also take up to 50 pages at a time if you want to scan a great big document, which is handy (because right now I have to scan those things one page at a time and then merge the PDFs, which is annoying).
Of course, the NeatDesk is over twice the price of the NeatReceipts… and you know me—ever-frugal—I’m not sure that I feel the advantages it has over my current model warrant more than double the price tag. If this test unit was mine to keep, I’d keep it and use it happily, for sure. But as a solopreneur looking for bang for my buck… I’d probably stick with the NeatReceipts and hand-feed my larger documents, for now.
However, I rarely need to scan larger documents. If that was more integral to my business, the multi-sheet feeder might be worth the extra money to me. Just sayin’.
Looking at this unit as a test drive (as opposed to my day-to-day usage of NeatReceipts) made me rethink how I use the software, too. Right now, I use NeatReceipts for receipts only. I knew that I could use it for other things, but I just… didn’t. I don’t accumulate many business cards in my travels (although the ability to scan them and then tag them to contacts in my address book is pretty slick, I have to admit), and as I already said, I don’t deal with a lot of documents, so I wasn’t really thinking beyond receipts. But with the NeatDesk set up, I got to thinking about how I could utilize the software more efficiently.
And then it occurred to me—why am I not scanning paychecks as them come in? I went ahead and scanned a couple of checks. The OCR—which has completely knocked my socks off time and time again with its ability to read receipts correctly and autofill the proper fields with all of the pertinent information—had a lot of trouble dealing with a paycheck. It’s simply not configured for this type of document… yet. I hope that in a future iteration of the NeatWorks software there’s a new category for checks, because it seems to me that these scanners and this software are a natural match for being able to scan/catalog such things.
I mean, I’m already scanning and organizing receipts and then exporting the data to Quicken, while I hand-enter all checks. If I could set up check-scanning and export that, I’d have my bookkeeping completely automated. That’d be awesome.
In poking around, I also discovered that the Mac version of NeatWorks is somewhat behind the PC version in functionality. (Okay, I was trying to create my own customized fields for checks; the Help file seemed to indicate this was possible, but then after watching the tutorial on Customization, I realized it was using the PC software and options that don’t exist in my copy.) Again, this is something that I expect will be rectified over time.
I still love my NeatReceipts with a fervor that borders on the unnatural, and I enjoyed my time with the NeatDesk, too. I’m really looking forward to future software updates, and hopefully greater flexibility for those of us running NeatWorks on a Mac. For those who regularly need to scan large documents, the NeatDesk may be a better choice than the NeatReceipts scanner. And folks using PCs will get a slight edge over those of us with Macs, for now, anyway, when running NeatWorks.
Many thanks to the kind folks at The Neat Company for letting me borrow the NeatDesk for comparison!
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