If something is going wrong with your Plays.tv recordings, there is an easy way to find out how Plays.tv is interacting with your computer’s video card. Normally, this is a hidden process and you can’t tell what is going on, but if you dig into a log file, you can easily understand where the problem may lie. You may be able to self-diagnose your issue by looking at the Hardware Level.

To find the log file:

Open up a Windows explorer window and navigate to: C:\Users\(yourname)\AppData\Roaming\playsTV (If C: isn't your boot drive, replace the C: with whatever your boot drive is.)

A simpler way to get there is to use the ‘run’ command from the start menu and type in this path: %appdata%\playsTV

Once you are in that folder, find the file playstv.log.  Open it in WordPad by right-clicking on it and choosing “Open With”  and then WordPad. You could also use another text editor if you’d like.

The log entries at the top of the file are older, and towards the bottom they are newer.

You’ll need to do a search with the WordPad Find command.  The hotkey should be ‘Ctrl - F’, or just choose it from the Edit Menu.

In the Find popup, Search for:  “HW Level=” (without the quotes.) The search will highlight a line of text, and you’ll see a number in that line. This is the Hardware Level.

What is the HW Level? Think of it as a result of Plays.tv looking at your hardware, testing it, and then making a determination of how it may achieve recording, if it can. If you get a positive number, that’s usually good. Negative numbers almost always show a problem that means a driver or operating system update is needed.

Here’s a list of each known Hardware Level and what it means:

Positive (usually good) values for HW Level :)

HW Level= 1.  If you have an AMD Radeon graphics card, this is a successful test that shows that AMD VCE is present and is available to encode video. Recording should be possible without burdening the CPU of your computer to encode video.

HW Level= 2.  This level is reserved for future use.

HW Level= 3. If you have an NVidia Geforce graphics card installed, this level shows a successful test for the presence of NVENC hardware to encode video. Recording should be possible without burdening the CPU.

HW Level= 4.  This denotes Software Encoding. In this level, no hardware encoder such as VCE or NVENC could be found. As a fallback measure, we use the CPU running software that encodes the video. This process is more CPU intensive, and as a result, some frames may not be recorded depending on the available CPU processing power. This resulting in a laggy, stuttering video. This lagginess in videos is an expected outcome of Software encoding. Read more about it here.

But Level 4 may be occurring if your computer has a VCE or NVENC-enabled GPU. In that case, you should reinstall your CPU and GPU drivers, even if you know they are current.

If you have an Intel CPU, you can do that here: Intel Download Center

If you have an AMD video card: AMD Drivers and Support

If your video card is from Nvidia: NVidia Drivers and Downloads

After you do that, run Plays.tv again and look at the most recent HW Level value at the bottom of the log file.  That may get the HW level to switch to either 1,3, or 5, which is what you want.

HW Level= 5.  This level means that Intel Quicksync Hardware is present and passes test for recording. Some Intel CPUs can do video encoding and Quicksync is found and available for recording video.

Negative (bad) values for HW Level :/

HW Level= 99.  This denotes Unknown Device. This can often happen when display drivers are missing or damaged.

This level usually coincides with a dxdiag listing the video card name as "Microsoft Basic Display Driver", instead of what your card actually is.

For this hardware Level, you should seek out the drivers that your card needs until the dxdiag shows the proper video card listing. See level 4 above for the driver links.

If after that, the dxdiag changes to shows the correct card, then you will probably get a better HW Level that you want (1,3,4, or 5).

HW Level= -1. This shows a Detection Failure.  For this hardware Level, you should seek out the drivers that your card needs and update them or reinstall them. See level 4 above.

HW Level= -2.  This rare level denotes an error of “Uninitialized”. You should try to reinstall your video card drivers. See level 4 above.

HW Level= -3.  Missing Media Foundation DLLs. This level is shown when you use Windows 8.1 N or Windows 10 N. This version of Windows needs to have missing Media Foundation DLLs installed. This Windows Media Pack includes some video encoding files that we rely on to do recording.

If you use Windows 10 N, you can install Windows Media Feature Pack here: LINK

and if you use Windows 8.1 N, the proper link is: LINK

HW Level= -4. OpenCL interop not supported. OpenCL is a part of video card drivers and sometimes we see this error show that drivers need to be reinstalled. See level 4 above.

HW Level= -7.  This level is very similar to HW Level=99. The dxdiag will most likely not list the correct actual video card. The video card drivers need to be reinstalled. See level 99 above.

This list can help you to self-diagnose some common problems with Plays.tv. If you are still in need of assistance, please contact our Customer Service and include your log files as shown in this article.