Note: This is part 1 of a two-part series, with our 2nd part detailing options for Android found here.
Everyone loves gaming on the couch. There’s nothing like curling on your sofa blasting baddies with your obnoxiously huge TV and loud home theater system (who likes neighbors, anyway?). LiquidSky works on all sorts of devices, but, does it work on the TV? Short answer: Yep. Gaming on the couch is 100% awesome on LiquidSky…with the proper setup.
We’ve got a ton of requests to do a proper guide to setting up the best LiquidSky living room setups. With two different apps to use, we thought it would be best to split this into each app. This article, we’ll be focusing on Windows. So without further adieu, here are our top ways to use LiquidSky on the world’s most versatile OS:
Option #1: A Budget Mini PC
If you’re looking for the ultimate cheap LiquidSky setup for your Home Theater, this one’s for you. LiquidSky doesn’t require fancy hardware, just a decent Windows setup and good internet. Cheap Windows PC’s are everywhere nowadays. With these tiny machines, you don’t have to deal with a big clunky box or giant electric bills. Plus, you can dual-use your new PC as a media center for your home! Though, we recommend you opt for the 4GB RAM versions if you’re using it for more than just playing LiquidSky, especially if you’re gonna surf the web.
Check our Gearbest for their selection of affordable Mini PC’s here.
Here’s a sample layout we recommend that should give the best possible experience on a budget:
Mini PC with Ethernet and USB (from $75-150 USD)
Keyboard/Mouse: Logitech K400 (approx. $25 USD)
For the most stable experience, we recommend using an Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi. Even though your mini PC has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, it’s likely using cheap components. Using one will likely affect the performance of the other. So…if we’re gonna be forced to pick sides, we’d choose Bluetooth any day for home use. Dealing with a corded controller when chilling on the couch is a throwback to the 90’s.
We also recommend the Logitech K400 keyboard, as it’s one of the best cheap living room companions on the market. It’s not a keyboard you’d want to write your doctoral thesis, but it’ll get the job done in surfing the web and typing commands. The trackpad is also perfect for lazy couch surfing.
Option #2: Surface Dock (or any Laptop with a docking station)
Laptop docks used to be everywhere. Just a decade ago, most laptops had an optional accessory that would turn your laptop into a workstation. Now, you need to waste time to plug in-and-out a hodgepodge of wires every time you connect your laptop to anything.
Well, the dock has returned! If you’re a proud owner of a Microsoft Surface, you can grab a sleek dock for your tablet that instantly hooks up to your TV. Plus, it charges your Surface while in use. Just be sure to buy the right dock! There’s 4 models in total listed below:
Docking station for Surface Pro 1 and 2
Docking station for Surface Pro 3
Docking station for Surface 3 (10″)
Dock for Surface Pro 3, 4, Book, and Laptop
Don’t own a surface? If you own a business-grade laptop, you might be in luck: Lenovo and certain HP and Dell business models have a slot in the bottom to use their proprietary docking systems. They can be a bit hard to find depending on the model. Check online to see if yours can as well!
Option #3: USB 3.0 Universal Dock
Have an ordinary tablet or laptop you just want to plug and use? Then we recommend a standard USB 3.0 dock with HDMI out. You’ll still need to connect the power separately, but with one cable you’ll be able to connect all your devices, TV, and even ethernet! Pictured is the Plugable USB 3.0 Docking Station (you can grab one here). We use these throughout our office with great results, even for lower-end Windows tablets. It’s a bit pricey but completely worth it.
Most Old Windows PC’s or Laptops since 2007
We all have old PC’s gathering dust in our homes. Whether they’ve just become too outdated or the hard drive has been acting clunky, these machines have gotten too annoying for our busy lives. However, just because they’re old doesn’t mean they’re useless. With the right combination of specs, you could turn your rusty ol’ clunker into your new fancy living room hub.
When scouting your old tech to be your master hub, you need to make sure it works for the modern world. Here are the biggest specs to look out for:
A Dual Core (or more) Processor (and “Core Duo” or “Athlon X2” would be the lowest you could go)
Expandable to 4GB of RAM (Even if it has less, you can expand it yourself for less than $20 on eBay)
USB 2.0 Ports (if not, look to see if you have a PCI card slot available).
If it’s got those 3 requirements, you’re in business! Just be sure to dust the inside of that PC with an air can. It’s been sitting for ages. Pro tip: you can add completely separate Bluetooth and Wi-Fi receivers and enjoy a completely cordless experience! After you’ve verified your old rig works, we recommend factory resetting your old PC to ensure it runs smoothly.
Hard drive still slowing you down after the factory reset? Swap it for a solid state drive on the cheap! It’s an easy upgrade and can turn a cloggy, slow PC into a speed demon. You can grab a 128GB SSD for less than $50 USD, much cheaper than a new PC. Once you’re ready to install, check this helpful CNET video on how to upgrade.
If you don’t have an old PC lying around, another great place to pick up a cheap rig is at a nearby college. Many schools are constantly upgrading equipment, and sell just a few years old PC’s for a fraction of their cost. It’s a great option to get started if you don’t have a decent machine lying around.
One Last Tip:
A/V HD Receivers
Setting up a Home Theater for yourself can be a huge hassle. Your TV only has so many inputs for all your stuff. Plus, it gets even more complicated when you add in a 7.1 surround sound setup calibrated to each gizmo in your living room. Then you start running out of ports to hook your stuff up, so you start daisy chaining several adapters together. Do you want all that funneled through your TV set?
Enter receivers: your ultimate living room companion. Instead of hodgepodging your TV with a bazillion hookups and adapters, you just plug in 1 measly HDMI cable into your HDTV, and let the receiver do the rest. Not only will this make your living room setup much neater, but also much simpler to organize all your devices. Switching devices is also a breeze with a receiver.
The biggest advantage to receivers: they amplify the sound to your speakers, creating a much more theatrical and bombastic sound experience than hooking speakers to your TV directly. Also, receivers funnel your audio directly from whatever input device you have. Whatever goes into the receiver will go out to the speakers. This is especially important with Windows hookups, as direct connections can sometimes be messy or have issues.
Luckily, receivers have gotten a lot cheaper over the past few years. For less than $200 USD, you can get a powerful receiver that does everything you need for your living room. Getting an A/V Receiver is not needed to use LiquidSky in your living room, but we highly recommend it to deliver the best possible audio and video experience.
Top Budget Receivers:
Sony 7.2 Channel Home Theater 4K AV Receiver
Onkyo 5.2 Channel A/V Receiver
We hope you guys found this article useful! Be sure to check out our Blog for more helpful LiquidSky tips. Check out our living room tips on Android devices here on our recommended setups for our Android client.
Looking to spruce up your network? We’ve got two guides for our top networking tips! First, check out for our networking in the 21st-century guide here, especially if you’re keen on sprucing up your digital security. If you’re already setup with the basics and looking to upgrade your home wireless, check out our picks for best WiFi routers and receivers article here.