Perhaps not useful for you, but hopefully somewhat useful to Matt.
In regards to dealing with Dropshippers. If that is what they require, then there really isn't any way around it, unless you can talk them into just giving you some prices on some specific products for research purposes. Yes, it is time consuming going around opening accounts to just do research, but this whole business is time consuming.
You don't have to just do research for 1 or 2 months to get started, you have to be constantly researching to stay ahead of, or at least up with the game. If you're not doing that as a seller, then it's only a matter of time before a competitor will get the drop on you and start taking your business. As a general rule, if anyone is concerned about time constraints, then this is the wrong business for them as it's all time really.
Just no way around what the supplier's requirements are in regards to seeing their products, other than trying my suggestion above. That might work for a few items at least. The real issue would be with dropshippers who charge an account fee t establish an account. That's not just time then, but cash as well, so I would be staying well clear of those if that was what they were demanding.