Achieving a paperless home office is like a mirage: it always recedes into the distance. That does not stop me resolving every new year to try harder, and this time I have some electronic help. I have put two scanners to the test copying and sending documents, receipts and newspaper clippings for digital storage.
NeatConnect Rating: 4/5
NeatConnect’s Cloud Scanner and Digital Filing System for PC and Mac is an updated version of a stalwart.
The aim is to make it easier than ever to create digital versions of a range of documents to send directly for storage in popular cloud-based services such as Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive. It is the first wireless scanner that includes direct-to-cloud capabilities and a built-in touchscreen to operate it – that means that no Windows PC or Mac is required.
The touchscreen also makes the set-up extremely easy because it displays clear and simple instructions.
I was able to scan and share documents simply by loading them and pressing the scan icon on the front-facing touchscreen.
The procedure was the same for receipts and business cards, which both have their own special input slots on the front of the machine.
The scanned documents can be sent directly from the scanner using its wireless connection either as email attachments or to cloud services including Neat’s own NeatCloud, which is a $60 a year subscription service (NeatConnect owners can try it for free for three months).
Documents scanned to NeatCloud go through the company’s optical character recognition process, which means they can be searched by keyword, while numbers can be organised – for expenses reports, for instance.
NeatCloud subscribers also have access to Neat’s iOS and Android mobile apps, the ability to access, share and synchronise the information in its cloud-based Digital Filing System across all their devices, locate information stored in other cloud services and add up to five users to an account.
You can also scan to a memory card in the built-in SD-card slot or to a desktop PC iMac via a USB cable.
Overall, NeatConnect, which costs $500 and is currently available only in the US, is one of the most flexible and easiest personal document scanning systems I have used. It may even help me keep my new year resolution.
Fujitsu Scansnap 4/5
Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX500 is also the latest in a family of popular desktop scanners that work with both Windows PCs and Apple Macs.
As with the NeatConnect, you can wirelessly scan to your Windows PC or Mac as well as iOS or Android mobile devices and it works directly with cloud services including Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs, and SugarSync.
The iX500 also enables users to enter scanned data into Excel, Outlook Express, Salesforce and other databases, and can scan business cards into digital folders.
I found the iX500 simple to set up and very easy and reliable to use, even handling non-standard documents such as newspaper clippings without trouble. It was also one of the fastest desktop scanners I have used.
The iX500 works well with iOS and Android-based mobile devices, so you can use the ScanSnap ConnectApp both to control the scanner wirelessly from a mobile device using a WiFi connection, and also to save the document directly to the mobile device.
The ScanSnap iX500 also has the Windows version of Adobe Acrobat X Standard, which enables users who create PDF files using the scanner to edit them too, with the option to add a password and digital ID to make the PDFs more secure.
Overall, the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500, which costs about $420 (£360 in the UK), is an excellent desktop scanner, particularly for anyone in need of its filing capabilities and reliability.
However, because you still need a PC or mobile device to run the software to operate it, it is still not quite as easy as using the touch interface of the NeatConnect.
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