Review: 3 new scanners store your documents in the cloud

Today's scanners keep your documents safe by sending them either to your hard drive or your favorite cloud storage service. We look at three of the latest.

1 2 3 4 5 Page 4
Page 4 of 5

You can also send documents via Wi-Fi to Neat's own NeatCloud service, which offers OCR along with tagging and search capabilities. NeatCloud isn't free; it has a variety of payment plans, starting at $5.99 monthly after a 90-day free trial. The mid- and top-tier NeatCloud plans include mobile apps for Android and iOS, which give you access to scans and let you use your mobile device to feed content into NeatCloud (for example, snapping a photo of a receipt after a business dinner).

NeatCloud also recently introduced NeatLabs, an extension of its offerings that adds features such as additional "tags" -- Neat automatically assigns a tag such as Receipt, Document and Contact to each scanned document; the new tags include Reciptes, Checks, eReceipts and Invoices. It also hooks into Intuit's QuickBooks accounting software. However, while I liked aspects of the NeatCloud, the service is still a bit rough, and not enough of a differentiator to encourage me to spend additional money on another monthly fee.

While NeatCloud is highly functional, and its design is similar to that of the Neat Desktop software, its interface requires more mouse clicks to accomplish tasks than I'd like, and it lacks drag-and-drop support for moving scanned items around. Neat Desktop offers better document previews, and you can move items around with drag-and-drop. And as with most traditional desktop software, Neat Desktop has a ton of options, particularly for adding metadata related to a given document (for example, you can add vendor, date, tax category, payment type, and more to a scanned receipt; and then you can later sort on that data or pull a report).

In tests, NeatConnect made quick work of any page I slipped through it; a single letter-size page took just four seconds to scan. I could use the LCD's onscreen apps to crop, rotate or delete the image. Pages scanned cleanly, with improved contrast and reasonable sharpness; wrinkles and folds were minimized, crooked pages were automatically straightened, and smaller items were automatically cropped to fit.

Bottom line

While the Neat desktop software could stand a redesign to more modern aesthetics, it certainly can do a lot to make your life easier once your stuff is digitized. More importantly, the NeatConnect scanner makes it as intuitive and expeditious as possible to get your documents digitized and into the cloud. Its logical workflow, accuracy and flexibility make NeatConnect a winner, but at $500, the cost of entry is steep.

SimpleScan DP

DCT's SimpleScan DP lives up to its name by keeping scanning, well, simple. If anything, that's where this scanner stumbles: As a sheet-fed scanner with limited editing and adjustments in its cloud software, it's easy to feel constrained by what SimpleScan lets you do. Then again, at $159, this cloud-connected mobile scanner may be the right choice for light scanning chores whether on-the-go or at your desk.

The big hook with SimpleScan is you can scan locally to your Mac or Windows computer or to any of a number of cloud services -- or to both at the same time. It supports Dropbox, Box, Evernote and Google Drive -- all also with an option to have it OCR'd in the cloud before the document is sent to the service. It also supports Certify, Expensify, eFax and Prizm Capture, business-oriented cloud offerings that differentiate this scanner from the competition -- and could make your working life much easier.

SimpleScan DP
SimpleScan DP

The SimpleScan DP is compact, cylindrical and one of the more portable cloud-friendly page scanners I've seen. It measures 12.7 x 3.25 x 2.25 in. and weighs 1.3 lb., which means it's light enough to toss into your carry-on if you need to. It comes with two stands and three possible configurations: two horizontal variants (flat on the desk and propped up on the stand) and one upright.

A single-sheet feeder is at front, with a green status light at right; the paper path curves around the back of the scanner. The design means you have to feed sheets individually, which makes this a reasonable choice if you're scanning a few pages, but not if you have dozens of pages to digitize.

The scanner, as packaged, needs an interface to its cloud service to function -- even if your eventual destination is to your local hard drive. The scanner does support third-party software via a TWAIN driver and Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) support, but it doesn't include any additional software.

Although I experienced a major glitch when I first tried to use the scanner (it was an issue with the company's servers which has since been fixed), after that, I had no issues getting SimpleScan going. I signed in with the free SimpleScan account I'd created, was prompted for the latest software (which included the fix to the aforementioned server glitch, added features to the scan settings, and improved issues with pages scanning straight), downloaded the software, and followed the onscreen prompt to plug in the scanner via the included mini-USB cable and go through the hardware wizard installation. I was prompted to hit "continue," at which point the SimpleScan service synced my desktop with the cloud and displayed an image of a green scanner to indicate SimpleScan scanner was plugged in and ready to go.

The menus and design of the Web interface are clear and thoughtful. SimpleScan's natural language approach echoes what The Neat Company does with its NeatConnect, and is the opposite of the complex interface design of the Brother ADS-1500W.

1 2 3 4 5 Page 4
Page 4 of 5
Download: EMM vendor comparison chart 2019