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Assuming you are a consumer and a human being, you’ve probably heard about these newfangled personal video recorders such as ReplayTV and TiVo. Apparently, they can pause live TV, record without videotape and, most ominously, "learn" what you like to watch. But what else can they do?

Pause • You're watching "Drew Carey" and you get an important phone call. Just hit Pause, take the call, and when you return, TiVo will tell you, in a soothing electronic voice, exactly why Ryan Stiles shouldn't ever be on TV.

SmartLink • Installing VCRs and DVDs can be a hassle, with too many adapters and wires littering your living room. But TiVo's different. Just leave TiVo lying around your TV for about an hour. It will hook itself up. Don't ask how.

Good Taste Sensor • While TiVo can record any program you wish, if you "accidentally" record "Dharma and Greg" or "Two Guys and a Girl" the Good Taste Sensor will automatically erase it, and then shock you with a low-level electric pulse.

Personal Monitor • TiVo doesn't just "watch" you to learn about your tastes in entertainment. TiVo maintains a constant vigilance of your lifestyle and will advise you with on-screen messages like, "Another two hours on the couch is the last thing you need, fatty," or "You're alone on a Friday night. Here's 'Norm.'"

After a month or so, when TiVo knows you a little better, you'll find TiVo a friend you can trust with your most intimate secrets.

TiVoDad • Want to go to your daughter’s piano recital, but just can’t miss "The Sopranos?" Don’t worry. TiVo will go to the recital for you.

TiVoDad 2 • Having a hard time talking to your kids about sex? TiVo's got you covered.

TiVoCritic • TiVo's built-in e-mail system that, whether you care or not, sends a message to NBC headquarters to complain about the fact that "Veronica's Closet" was canceled. TiVo is still very angry that "Veronica's Closet" was canceled.

OmenChip• You're sitting around, watching a movie, and you start musing on your own mortality. With the touch of a button, TiVo can give you the exact date and time of your own death—and tell you what shows you'll miss that night.

TiVo comes equipped with all 70 episodes of "Veronica's Closet" stored in its memory, including four that were never aired. You cannot erase them.

TiVo does have one annoying habit— anytime you tune in to "Baywatch," it will irritatingly say, "More like 'Rack-watch.'" Just go along with it.

When TiVo gets drunk, TiVo has a nasty temper.

TiVo is Kirstie Alley's agent.

This button allows TiVo to spontaneously create more TiVos.

Also by Matt Murray:
Behind The Behind The Music: TLC

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