First Impressions: NeatConnect Is The Wireless Scanner You’ve Been Waiting For [Review]

NeatConnect_Hi-Res2

NeatConnect by Neat
Category: Scanners
Works With:Anything with Wi-Fi
Price: $500

I’ve been using Neat products for the past couple of years. I’ve got a NeatDesk for Mac and an active NeatCloud account. So when the folks at Neat reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in putting the company’s latest piece of hardware – NeatConnect – through the paces, I jumped at the chance.

NeatConnect is everything I’ve been waiting for in a scanner. It’s the first wireless scanner to include direct-to-cloud capabilities and an integrated touchscreen interface. While it does come packaged with a USB cord to plug in directly to your computer, I never gave it a chance to be used. The wireless capabilities of NeatConnect are stellar, and you can control absolutely everything from the touchscreen. (To get a quick look at NeatConnect, Neat has put together a very slick (and short) overview video here.)

When your fire up NeatConnect, it walks you through the process of getting connected to whatever wireless networks are available. It picked up my router’s signal fairly quickly, and even displays whether it is open or secured along with the strength of the signal next to the name of the network. After entering the network’s password (if applicable), you can choose whether or not it should automatically connect going forward or not by checking off that option.

Following that portion of the setup, you’ll be asked to either log in or create a new NeatCloud account. Once you’ve completed that step, you are given a bit of a walkthrough and then will complete your first scan. After that, you’ll be sent to the main interface of NeatConnect where you can

The touchscreen keyboard does take some getting used to (although it should seem familiar to longtime iOS users), as I found that during my setup that I had trouble hitting the characters exactly right on the far left and right sides of the touchscreen.

Besides being able to connect to wi-fi networks directly, the main touchscreen view presents options directly related to each scan. You can combine scans into one document if you want, complete a single or double-sided scan, alter its output to grayscale, and then once you scan you can choose from several storage options to share the output file to — right from NeatConnect. Its wireless capabilities also provides many options for placement in the home. For example, we have a shelf by our front door (complete with a plug on the wall) that fits NeatConnect perfectly. Any mail that comes in (at least for me – the rest of the family has yet to go as “paperless” as I have) gets opened there and, if warranted, gets scanned. No longer do you need to have your scanner in a location that is less than convenient.

NeatConnect definitely keeps with the unparalleled design of the Neat family of scanners, looking very similar to the NeatDesk.

NeatConnect also has the ability to handle multiple users, which was a great addition to my household. We have a “personal/family” user and I consider my user to be more for business. NeatConnect enables me to keep these things separate, making paperless organization all the easier.

The feature that will make many give NeatConnect a long look is its robust sharing options. You can now go beyond local storage on your computer or in NeatCloud – NeatConnect supports a slew of other offerings in the space, including:

  • Evernote
  • Dropbox
  • SkyDrive
  • Google Drive
  • Box

NeatConnect can also scan to email, SD cards, and FTP sites. For those who have always had to find less direct methods to get items scanned through Neat devices to popular apps such as Evernote and Dropbox, NeatConnect solves that simply by enabling you to enter your credentials for each service you want to have at your disposal. From there, you can decide where things will wind up when scanning – and you can do that for each scan. That means you can use Evernote for certain things, Dropbox for others, and so on. As an avid Evernote user, this feature is very appealing to me – and I’m certain I’m not alone in that.

NeatCloud is still the most “complete” option, however, as using it ensures that scans go through optical character recognition (OCR) and Neat parsing technology. My use cases for NeatConnect generally revolved around receipts, business cards, and invoices being scanned to my NeatCloud account and those that didn’t warrant OCR would go to Evernote. The fact that there are so many more options on the table allows for a workflow that is both flexible and customizable.

NeatConnect will be available for purchase in October and it will cost $499. That price also includes a three-month subscription for two users to NeatCloud, which is another aspect of Neat’s portfolio that has made great strides since I first started using it a couple of years back. That puts it at only $100 more than the NeatDesk, and with all that the NeatConnect offers it’s well worth spending that to get the wireless scanning capabilities, multiple sharing portals, and all of the other options that this sleek and innovative device provides. I’ve always wanted a scanner that gives me a lot of options and NeatConnect does that…and a whole lot more.

NeatConnect_Hi-Res2

Product Name: : NeatConnect

The Good: Connects to every online service you could want, doesn’t need to be near a computer, looks great.

The Bad: Dodgy touch-screen.

The Verdict Solid wireless scanner for going paperless with great software and sharing options.

Buy from: Neat
Buy from: Amazon

Cult of Mac rating: Excellent

Related
  • MrsCleaver

    Nice article about cloud and wireless, but nothing about quality of scans, reliability of scans or what (if any) ability to scan photos. A bit of this information would be helpful.

    Thanks

  • Mike Vardy

    Nice article about cloud and wireless, but nothing about quality of scans, reliability of scans or what (if any) ability to scan photos. A bit of this information would be helpful.

    Thanks

    The quality of scans and optical character recognition are fantastic — as I’ve seen with all Neat products I’ve tried. And while I didn’t try scanning photos, when using the NeatDesk to do so they turned out really well. With that in mind, I’d say NeatConnect would be on par with that quality as well.

    Hope that helps!

  • mjb

    I was excited to receive my NeatConnect which I preordered. Set up was easy and I was scanning right away. The scanner worked exactly 1 hour and then quit. Reset did not work. Customer service is only available when I am at work. Not sure when I will be able to fix…

  • GaTechJR

    So are there no OCR options if you scan to the other services? I’d love to be able to save searchable PDFs to SkyDrive, for example. Due to my organization’s security policy, we can only use cloud services with which we have contracts in place. (Currently, as you can guess, Microsoft. Not the others.)

About the author

Mike VardyMike Vardy is a husband, father, independent writer, speaker, podcaster and "productivityist". He is also the author of the book, The Front Nine: How To Start The Year You Want Anytime You Want, published by Diversion Books. You can learn more about his other work at his website, MikeVardy.com, visit his blog at Productivityist.com, and you can follow him as @mikevardy on Twitter.

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