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NeatReceipts Neat Business Cards

>> Friday, January 9, 2009

NeatReceipts could have taken the business card module from the Scanalizer program as is, combined it with a business card scanner, and sold the result as a perfectly reasonable product that would stand up to the competition. Instead, the company says it enhanced the parsing engine, tweaking it for the specific task of recognizing business cards.

More important, it took the idea of a business card scanner to the next level, by letting you scan directly into two popular contact management programs Act! and Microsoft Outlook. Like other business card packages, Neat Business Cards comes with its own program for managing the contact information from scanned cards. Similarly, it lets you synchronize the data with another contact manager although it's limited to syncing with Outlook and the online Plaxo service.

Unlike other business card packages, Neat Business Cards comes with plug-ins for Outlook (2000 and later) and Act! (version 9 and later), so you can scan cards directly into either program. This won't help if you use another contact manager, such as Goldmine. But if you're one of the legions of people who use Outlook or Act!

Neat Business Cards gives you a simple way to get information off a business card and into the program you already use, without your having to learn an entirely new program or worry about synchronizing data.

The package even bundles Act! 9.0, giving you a full fledged contact manager if you don't already have one.

The hardware side of Neat Business Cards is a 600 pixel per inch color scanner that takes up hardly any more room on your desk than a stack of business cards.

At 1.1 by 4.4 by 2.1 inches (HWD) and just 3.3 ounces, it's small even for a business card scanner. It's also highly portable. You can easily take it with you on trips, scan cards while you still remember why you took each one, and add notes along with the cards. It even comes with a small travel case with room for both the scanner and included USB cable. Setup is standard for a business card scanner.

Install the software and connect to a USB port, with the USB cable providing both a data connection and power for the scanner. It suspect most people will ignore the Neat Business Cards program and use the Outlook or Act! plug ins, which show up as an extra toolbar in both programs. Insert a business card into the scanner's feed slot and choose the scan button in the toolbar.

The plug in will scan the card, recognize the text, and wait for you to make corrections. You can then choose an on screen button to save the information, or save it and scan another card You can also use Neat Business Card software to manage your contact information. The software looks very much like the business card module in Scanalizer, with the screen divided into four panes.

One shows a list of contacts a second shows details for the currently selected contact a third lets you see the front or back of the card for the currently selected contact, or switch to an advanced search screen and the fourth lets you list action items and notes for the currently selected contact.

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