Smart Tools For a Paperless Home

Scanners are cheaper, faster, and smarter with software that can organize life's documents.


We tested the DocuPen Xtreme X05 (about $300 online) that has added features such as a small screen for checking battery life and memory capacity. It can take tiny microSD cards for extra memory and can scan directly to BlackBerry or Windows Mobile smartphones or printers that have Bluetooth connections.

The DocuPens are about ultraportability, not speed or flexibility. Properly manipulating the device takes a bit of practice; Two hands are better than one. Scanning a page can take half a minute, plus a pause before the pen is ready for the next. But the images themselves are sharp, either in black and white or color, and the device's size makes it convenient for scans that mean carrying home less paper.

Scanning system. The NeatDesk (about $360 online) is not only a fast and convenient model, but it also comes with ambitious software for organizing life's papers. The scanner itself is attractive enough to grace any desktop and can scan 25 pages per minute on one side, or both sides of a page at a slower pace. It's also unique for removable slots that guide large, medium-size, and small documents.

The NeatWorks software converts scanned images to text and goes a step further, usually recognizing national vendors automatically and other companies with training. The software then makes quick work of filing and organizing the documents and capturing data, such as a receipt's totals, for quick export to financial software.

While the software doesn't always live up to its ambitions, its intelligence is an added benefit to anyone trying to dig themselves out from under paper. It's a proprietary system, though, so adopting NeatWorks is a commitment. It's a hassle to export the NeatWorks files to other software. But the scanner itself will work cooperatively with other programs if a user is squeamish to adopt the NeatWorks system.