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NeatConnect adds Wi-Fi and a color touchscreen display to connect any scrap of paper with the cloud.
Users are increasingly moving to the cloud, so why shouldn’t your receipts, documents, and other scraps of paper follow you there? That’s the premise behind NeatConnect, the latest digital filing system solution from Neat that adds wireless scanning to its cloud-connected, paperless ecosystem.
The hardware is stylishly designed to look great and save space on any desk, taking up a mere 17x11x10.5 inches with both front and rear paper trays extended. NeatConnect includes pre-designated slots for scanning up to 15 documents, receipts, or business cards at 600 DPI, but the top third of the panel pops off easily to allow automatic feed of up to 50 letter-sized pages.
NeatConnect costs $100 more than the company’s previous NeatDesk offering, presumably from the inclusion of 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi for cloud connectivity, along with a 3.5-inch color touchscreen display. From there, an iPhone-style numeric keypad can be used to log in to a NeatCloud account (two-user, three-month subscription included with purchase), FTP server, or existing cloud account for Microsoft SkyDrive, Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box.
Unfortunately, the NeatConnect firmware isn’t yet equipped to handle accounts protected by two-factor authentication, an increasingly popular security option. We were able to circumvent this with Google Drive by creating an application-specific password online, but sadly, no such option currently exists for Dropbox.
Neat hasn’t entirely cut the cord: you’ll need the included USB cable to scan directly to a Mac or PC, which seems like a missed opportunity considering the number of inexpensive all-in-ones that feature wireless scanning. Instead, Neat for Mac users will have to keep NeatConnect within a few feet of their computer, use the built-in SD card, or go with a cloud-based option.
The company clearly favors its own NeatCloud, a subscription-based cloud service starting at $5.99 per month for a Personal account. Scan a document and it’s sent wirelessly to the cloud, then synced back to the desktop. Unfortunately, the base plan can’t be used with the company’s Neat Mobile app for iOS or Android, which requires a $14.99 per month or $119.88 annual Home & Office plan. (A five-user Business plan is also available.)
Neat’s mobile app provides a way to capture paper on the go, but the universal iOS version lacks the ability to automatically crop documents or capture them in anything but color—two features available via NeatConnect. (The hardware also allows single- or double-sided scans as separate or combined files). The app tends to be slow at refreshing folder contents, especially when syncing a big library.
NeatConnect users can skip sync entirely by using one or more FTP or free cloud-storage accounts, but documents then have to be manually imported into Neat for Mac. This option works most of the time, but the desktop software occasionally ignores certain files without reporting an error, so it’s not the most reliable method.
The bottom line. When it all works, NeatConnect’s combination of cloud, mobile, and desktop can be a dream come true for home office users looking to banish paperwork to the cloud. It’s a stylish way to capture scraps of paper in digital form, but hardware and optional subscription costs will be too much to bear for many home offices.
Mac OS X 10.7 or later with Intel Core 2 Duo processor or higher
Accurate scanning and OCR for almost any kind of paper. Wireless cloud connectivity via FTP or third-party storage accounts. Attractive, space-saving design
Expensive hardware and optional NeatCloud subscription. No Wi-Fi scanning to Mac or PC. No support for two-factor authentication on Dropbox accounts.