Not pausing for lunch, they spend their days passing 900,000 sheets through each copier, pounding 20 million strokes on every electric typewriter, sitting down on the same chair 20,000 times, and outputting 7,500 sheets of paper from every printer. A devoted staff? You should be so lucky.

It's the hands-on routine mercilessly followed by technicians at Buyer's Laboratory Inc. (BLI), a Hackensack, N.J., equipment evaluator. Founded in the 1960s, BLI has tested copiers, typewriters, printers, fax machines, furnishings, and supplies. Conclusions are dispensed to subscribers in book-form summaries, as periodic loose-leaf reports, in monthly newsletters, and on computer disks. BLI also does consulting independently to test specified products and gives annual awards to outstandingly durable products. (See "Hard-Knocks Equipment Awards," No. 05921621, May 1992.)

BLI recently added a new service. Interested parties such as office managers and retailers now can query BLI's database of some 2,000 listings of office paraphernalia directly by phone. By following recorded instructions, they can search product files. Specs and pricing structures of items are sent along by fax within two minutes. Why the rush? Because, explains BLI's marketing manager Andrea Hille, "whenever one new product is introduced, another is apt to become obsolete."

Among BLI's reports: Electronic Copier Selection Guide, $545 the first year, $300 per year thereafter; and Electronic Facsimile Selection Guide, $450 the first year, $300 per year thereafter. Each includes four to six updates annually. Also available: the Fax-Accessible Database, $100 per year to subscribers. For information, call 201-488-0404. -- Robert A. Mamis

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