Introducing DIRECTV Restart — Watch any program from the beginning!

Well, not ANY program, not yet anyway. DIRECTV has been hard at work on a new technology that will let you start programs over from the beginning even if you tune in late. We’ve heard it called [strike]Startover (although that name may change)[/strike] Restart and it’s been active on select Genie DVRs for over a month. DIRECTV is rolling it out nationwide now, and you’ll start seeing commercials about it very soon. We got an early look.

You’ll need a Genie DVR (HR34 or HR44) and an internet connection. Restart also works on Genie Mini Clients and DIRECTV Ready TVs. A 10Mbps download speed is best, but not required.

If you tune to a channel with Restart enabled, you’ll see this message toward the bottom of the screen. It’s just that simple… press the rewind button to start the program from the beginning! This is similar to the message you get when you tune to a show that’s already recording but when it’s all said and done Restart will be on over 60 channels. That’s like having a 60-tuner DVR!

You’ll see a little animation while your program is queueing up. The length of the animation depends on your internet speed… with a 15mbps channel it takes no more than about ten seconds.

If you’re looking for programs with Startover, you’ll see that they’re identified with a little back-facing arrow in the guide.

If you start watching and decide partway through that you’d like to start over, just rewind until you see this message. Press {REWIND} one more time to start from the beginning.

The one thing you won’t like is that you can’t fast forward or record while watching a show in Restart mode. This has a lot to do with the lawyers and how this all got past the content providers. Hopefully that restriction will be lifted in the future.

In our tests, Restart worked flawlessly. Every channel we tried “just worked.” This is a huge win for DIRECTV, because no other provider has this technology. DIRECTV CEO Mike White took pride in saying that his engineering staff told him that this couldn’t be done, but they made it happen anyway and it’s bound to be a complete gamechanger.

We put together a short video showing Restart (formerly called Startover) in action.