In this week's Cybershake, we take a look at a way to organize the clutter of paper receipts you get with every purchase. Plus, we take a peek at Sony's new mobile video game unit, the PlayStation Portable, or PSP.
Taming the Paper Receipts Tiger
It's nearly April 15, the deadline for millions of Americans who need to file an annual income tax report to the Internal Revenue Service. And for millions of filers, that means going through a shoebox full of sales receipts for potential tax deductions -- say, the cost of that new PC purchased used for the home business.
But if you'd rather not wade through a sea of sales slips, a Philadelphia company is suggesting a simple solution: Don't drown. Go digital.
NeatReceipts offers a package that combines a small portable computer scanner along with some sophisticated software.
"It scans and reads your receipts and helps you organize your information," said Rafi Spero, chief operating officer of NeatReceipts. "It helps you convert the shoeboxes filled with receipts into a digital empire that helps you manage your life."
The scanner is similar to other portable scanners used by mobile professionals to convert printed documents into digital text or images that can be used and manipulated by a computer. Similarly, NetReceipts' scanner can accept any size paper receipt up to 8.5 by 11 inches.
"All you got to do is get [the receipt] into the mouth of the scanner, hit 'scan' and it automatically readjusts and auto-sizes and auto-crops the document for you," said Spero.
Once the receipt is captured as a digital image onto the computer, the software can convert it into information that can be put into a handy personal database.
"If you scan a Staples receipt, it will recognize 'Staples' as [an office supplies] vendor and then will give it the appropriate expense category -- let's say 'retail,'" said Spero.
NeatReceipts users can even instruct the software to mark such digital receipts as taxable or nontaxable and share that information with other programs -- personal finance programs such as the popular Quicken software from Intuit.
Spero said the ease in organizing digital receipts could help minimize the hassle in preparing next year's tax return. But NeatReceipts could also help road warriors stay on top of their expenses while traveling on business.
"The software runs off of your computer, so if you have a laptop, you can take that with you," he said. "And the scanner is powered by your computer."
The $250 NeatReceipts kit is available only for Windows PCs that have a USB port.
-- Larry Jacobs, ABC News
Sony PSP: Powerful, Sexy, Pricey
Nintendo's GameBoy and GameBoy Advance have been the reigning champs of portable video game players for years. And Nintendo is hoping to keep the title of king of portable fun with its Nintendo DS handheld unit.
But a new contender, Sony, has entered the ring. The Japanese giant finally released its long-awaited PlayStation Portable -- or PSP -- in North America on Thursday. And so far, the PSP has piqued a passionate response from gamers and industry watchers.
"The first word that comes to mind when I see the PSP is 'sexy,'" said Dan Shu, editor in chief of Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine.
The sleek black video game unit is less than an inch thick and weighs about 10 ounces. A sharp, 4-inch color screen is capable of displaying rich computer graphics similar to those produced on Sony's larger, home-based PlayStation 2 system. Meanwhile, a built-in Wi-Fi radio allows PSP owners to wirelessly connect and play games with other nearby PSP owners.
Another distinction the new portable game contender brings to the mix: Multimedia. In addition to games, the PSP can play digital MP3 music from postage stamp-sized memory cards or even full-length movies. Each PSP even comes with its own copy of "Spider-Man 2."
Shu believes such advanced digital capabilities make the PSP very attractive to the portable gamer crowd who grew up with Nintendo portables. But is it a total knockout? Shu is a bit hesitant.
"I look at the PSP as more [of an] evolutionary product that revolutionary," he said. "It's a great machine overall but just nothing revolutionary to [make you] say, 'Wow, I've never seen anything like this.'"
And there are other considerations that industry watchers such as Shu are mindful of.
For one, the $250 PSP is $100 more than the competing Nintendo DS. And PSP memory cards can cost as much as $150. What's more, every game and digital movie for the PSP uses a new format called UMD -- a proprietary, two-inch "Universal Media Disk" developed by Sony.
That means "you're going to have to buy new games for the system," said Shu.
-- Michael Barr, ABC News
Cybershake is produced for ABC News Radio by Andrea J. Smith.