If your copy volume is less than 2,000 copies per month, or if you want to spend very little money, coated-paper copiers may be for you. There are about 50 models on the market currently, ranging in price from $110 to $1,900, with one model, Minolta's discontinued EG 201, selling for around $2,500, if you can find it.

Coated-paper copiers are divided into four types. The five least expensive machines use a thermal process -- also known as "dual spectrum" -- to make copies, and are only distantly related to true photocopiers. 3M dominates this part of the market. The process is cumbersome (you have to use two sheets of treated paper for each copy) and slow. But for less than $500, these machines do put copying within almost anyone's reach.

Next come wet-toner, sheet-fed machines, to some extent a dying species for the same reasons as their bigger plain-paper brothers. As with most coated-paper machines, copy quality is only fair, but some of the 11 machines in this category (3 of which are now discontinued) do offer reasonable speed, up to 20 copies per minute in some cases. List prices range from $495 to $1,395.

Six dry-toner, sheet-fed copiers are also available at prices ranging from $895 to $1,745.

Finally, there are approximately 25 rollfed coated-paper copiers available. This is the one segment of the coated-paper market that continues to prosper. Priced between $1,000 and $2,000, most rollfed copiers can handle a workload of several thousand copies per month and are ideal for making copies of forms and other documents smaller than 8 1/2" X 11", such as invoices, checks, and packing slips. Since the copier can be adjusted to use less than a full-sized sheet of paper to duplicate these items, the actual copy cost can be significantly less than the 4.5? per sheet that is quoted for most rollfed models. The obvious disadvantage of rollfed copiers is that the paper they use comes -- you guessed it -- on a roll, and their copy quality isn't always sparkling.