The Neat scanner and the ScanSnap remain the document scanners people most often come to Lawyerist to learn about. My Neat Desk review wasn’t all that positive, but since people really seem to like the Neat scanner (or at least the idea of it), I’ve been wondering if it actually might be a better scanner for some people.
I’ve decided the Neat Desk might actually be a better scanner for people whose tech savviness (and desire to become tech savvy or go paperless) is low to nonexistent.
For such users, a copy of Adobe Acrobat isn’t all that valuable, nor is the ScanSnap’s easy integration with Google Docs or Evernote. On the other hand, the NeatDesk’s easy-loading paper tray, always-on OCR, and lack of configuration options are a relief, not a negative. While the ScanSnap is pretty dead simple to use, the NeatDesk is also simple, and it gives a helping hand, too.
For example, I didn’t like the low-volume document feeder because it meant I couldn’t load as many pages. But if you are just scanning a few things at a time, that’s not a problem, and the document feeder means you don’t have to keep adjusting the paper stays for common paper sizes.
Forcing text recognition (OCR) isn’t a bad thing, either. It’s something nearly everyone wants to do, anyway, and necessary if you want to convert scanned documents to Word files.
TWAIN isn’t very important for a paperless office, because you will probably do 100% of your scanning from the scanner, right to PDF. But if you do have TWAIN—as the NeatDesk does—you can actually scan from more familiar applications like Windows Live Photo Gallery or even Microsoft Word.
I didn’t like Neat’s document management software, either, because I felt like it was “trapping” my client files in a proprietary system. That probably doesn’t matter if you aren’t storing all your files on your computer. And besides, many people still don’t know what I’m talking about when I mention the “file manager” or “file system.” The NeatDesk is for those people.
Every lawyer needs to be able to scan documents now and then, even if they aren’t fully paperless. For lawyers working on a full paperless office, the NeatDesk isn’t ideal. But for lawyers who just want an easy way to digitize documents now and then—or for people who just want an easy-to-use scanner for home use, it’s great.