"But TiVo today is like, well, a good TV show that has yet to make the network lineup. That makes now a very good time to tune in.." --Tim Beyers, five minutes ago

Finally, I get a chance to say something nice about TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO). Thanks for the opening, Tim.

Yes, this Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick is very much like a good TV show. But I differ with Tim on the timing of its original broadcast.

The Xerox effect
Along with Replay TV, TiVo pioneered the DVR market. Its name is so synonymous with the concept of digital video recorders that "to Tivo" has become (although I suspect its lawyers would disagree) a generic verb meaning "to record a program on a hard drive rather than a VCR cassette." Just like every tissue is a kleenex, and every photocopy you make is a Xerox (NYSE:XRX), every DVR has become a TiVo in wolf's clothing. (The same wolf that's eating TiVo's profits.)

The problem isn't that TiVo is undiscovered. It's been discovered, had its single season on the air, and been voted out of the lineup. TiVo is the My So-Called Life of the corporate world. It's a high-quality product with a dedicated cult following -- but the vast majority of consumers have opted not to spend their time or money on it.

Patents, shmatents
One other point regarding TiVo's supposed patent advantage. I've been hankering for a chance to use a thirdhand quote from a reviewer at Scientific Review, and it seems to fit here: "Just because he invented and patented it, doesn't mean it works." I'd add: ". or that he can profit from it."

Consumers today seem more than happy to use the slightly less clever DVRs manufactured by Scientific-Atlanta (NYSE:SFA)/Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), NDS (NASDAQ:NNDS), and Motorola (NYSE:MOT). If the customer is always right, and the customer chooses these companies' DVRs over "real" TiVos, you should too.

Wait! You're not done. Go back and read the other arguments, then vote on the winner of this week's Duel.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor his he short, any company named above. If he did (or was), The Motley Fool would require him to tell you so. We're sticklers about things like that.