10 Niche & Unique Streaming Channels

The days of cable TV are long gone, with only a few diehard holdouts still subscribing to traditional television services. Everyone knows the real way to view content is by streaming it, and the Internet doesn’t disappoint.

No matter what you want to watch, whether food-focused stream for strange cuisine from around the globe or a channel dedicated to Minecraft Let’s Plays, you can find a streaming channel that suits your tastes. It’s a fascinating new world where creativity reigns. 

The problem is that some of the most interesting streaming channels are hard to find because they are not widely publicized. In some cases, this is because the streamers do not have the resources to get the word out. In others, it’s because the channel is just too niche. 

Here are some of the most interesting and unique streaming channels out there. The majority of items listed here are free, but a few come at a small monthly cost.

Pluto TV

Pluto TV is a streaming service in and of itself, but it stands out thanks to more than 200 channels you can watch entirely for free. You can find everything from the All Day Anime channel to non-stop wrestling thanks to Impact! Wrestling. 

Pluto TV is available for download from most major app stores and comes built-in on many smart TVs. Basically, anywhere you can download streaming apps, you can find Pluto TV—and more channels than you know what to do with. There’s even a channel that’s nothing but cute animal videos, all day, every day. 

Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit is a channel produced by Conde Nast Entertainment that is available for free on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, and several other outlets. It’s the go-to place for high-quality food streams and content related to cooking and eating. 

You can watch professional chefs explore styles of cooking outside their area of expertise, learn to make recipes all on your own, and much more. 

Pokemon TV

Pokemon is a worldwide phenomenon represented in nearly every entertainment medium—but for diehard fans, that’s not enough. Pokemon TV is developed by The Pokemon Company International and is a streaming channel dedicated to non-stop Pokemon content. 

You can watch the animated show, movies, and catch exclusive trailers and previews for upcoming games. Best of all, this app is completely free. Just download it on your Roku or anywhere else it is available and you’re ready to start watching. 

NASA TV UHD

If you’re interested in space and what lies beyond our solar system, this is the streaming channel for you. NASA TV UHD has eight different TV series that explore every angle of NASA’s space program, including the trials the agency overcame in the past, the challenges it currently faces, and what the program hopes to accomplish in the future. 

A few of the programs include “Liftoff,” a series that takes an in-depth look at space launches and “Deep Space” which uses powerful imagery from the Hubble Telescope to peer into the deepest parts of space. Best of all, every program is shot in 4K with HDR. 

IMDb Freedive

IMDb Freedive is backed by Amazon, but funded by commercials. It’s a free video-on-demand service that lets you watch classic older television shows like The Bachelor and Without a Trace, but it also hosts a number of movies like Groundhog Dog and Momento. 

Interestingly, while most of the entries on this list are available through Roku, IMDb Freedive requires an Amazon TV Fire Stick to view on your TV. You can also watch it on your computer if you don’t want to plug in a Fire Stick. . 

Hasbro Studios Free

If you’re a fan of classic cartoons like Transformers or Conan the Adventurer, Hasbro Studios Free is a great streaming channel for fueling your nostalgia. 

While aimed at kids (due to it being cartoon-focused), the primary audience will most likely be adults in their late 30s and early 40s reliving those series they loved as kids. Even if it isn’t an everyday viewing, Hasbro Studios Free is definitely worth checking out.

CBS News

If you want a way to keep up with events around the world without paying a cable subscription, the CBS News app is a strong contender. It provides real-time reporting on news stories as they develop, on-demand video clips and segments, and even local stations. 

You can even find custom playlists curated based on your personal viewing habits. It also has CBS Sports HQ, ET Live, and other popular segments like Face the Nation. 

PBS

Let’s face it: PBS is one of the best streaming channels out there. The amount of content is staggering, and the PBS app makes it easy to access your favorite shows from years upon years of broadcasts. It also gives access to original online content and classics like Masterpiece and NOVA. 

Between the collections of educational shows, documentaries, and more that PBS routinely airs, this channel is perfect for leaving on in the background to fill the quiet or as a safe bet for your kids to watch after school. 

Baby Boomer TV

If you think good television ended somewhere in the mid-80s, this channel will be a favorite. It features classics like Bonanza and The Dick Van Dyke show. It’s a nostalgia-fest of the highest order, catering to audiences that have had time to refine their tastes. 

DC Universe

This is the one and only paid channel on this list. It earned that honor because of its listing lineup. While DC pales in popularity compared to Marvel, diehard fans will love the fact they can watch Doom Patrol, Titans, and dozens of animated movies and TV classics. 

If you’re of the opinion that Wonder Woman beats out Captain Marvel anytime, anywhere, check out DC Universe. There’s a 7-day free trial, after which you will need to pay a $7.99 monthly subscription. 

Do you know of any other unique and niche streaming channels? If so, let us know about them in the comments.

Mario Kart vs Sonic Team Racing: Which is Better?

Few things in life match the simple, visceral satisfaction of firing a Blue Shell at the first-place leader and blowing past the explosion to win the race—except, perhaps, using Slingshot Boost from a nearby teammate to boost yourself ahead of everyone else to claim the glory for yourself and your team.

Both Mario Kart and Sonic Team Racing appeal to those that want a lighthearted, fun, pick-up-and-play experience with minimal time commitment. 

While the majority of people can immediately pick which of the two titles they prefer, newcomers to the Switch might struggle a bit. This guide can help. We will break down the differences in gameplay, mechanics, and several other factors that set the two games apart from one another. 

Which Is Better: Mario Kart Vs Team Sonic Racing?

Mario Kart is the better game, hands-down. This doesn’t mean that Team Sonic Racing is bad, but it’s a newcomer in the world of kart racers. Mario Kart’s long and storied history makes it stand out, but its true strength lies in how well-developed the game is overall. 

Which Has The Better Roster?

A racing game is typically about the cars (or the carts), but both Mario Kart and Team Sonic Racing allow players to take the role of their favorite characters from the respective series.

In Mario Kart, characters are divided into size types: small, medium, and large. They are then broken down into a series of stats including how they perform in ground, in air, in water, and in anti-gravity. For a full breakdown of character stats, check out the Mario Wiki

In Team Sonic Racing, characters are divided into Speed-type characters, Technique-type characters, and Power-type characters. There are five of each type, for a total of 15 characters—including Sonic, Chao, and Big the Cat. 

The character you choose matters, but none are inherently better than others. The games are more skill-based than anything else, so your character choice is more about personal preference. Compared to Team Sonic Racing’s 15 characters, Mario Kart’s roster of 41 playable characters gives players far more choice in who and how to play. 

How Does Gameplay Differ?

Both Mario Kart and Team Sonic Racing are kart racers, but their style of gameplay differ wildly from one another. Mario Kart is a solo racer. While there are team modes, they aren’t the same style of team race that Team Sonic Racing offers.

Mario Kart is great for playing on your own or going toe-to-toe with friends, but if you want a cooperative experience that challenges both you and your allies, Team Sonic Racing is the way to go.

Team Sonic Racing requires all three players to work together. One person can’t come in first and the other two come in dead last, as a point system is used to determine the overall winner. All players need to finish well in order to win.

Players can do this by riding in one another’s trails for better boosts, driving beside a stunned teammate to give them a “Skim Boost,” and activating the “Team Ultimate” to give all three players on the team a massive boost of speed that lasts for several seconds. 

What Are The Different Game Types?

Sonic Team Racing is focused solely on the races. There is a Team Adventure Mode that guides players through a story and a Local Mode that features a Grand Prix, an Exhibition Race, and a Time Trial. 

On the other hand, Mario Kart has all of those game types and more. Mario Kart includes a multiplayer mode where you can race against your friends as well as a Battle Mode that pits players against each other in different types of competitions, including a race to collect coins or to burst balloons attached to your opponent. 

Item Differences Between Games

Both games follow a similar pattern in how players obtain and use items. Items litter the various courses in floating containers that can be picked up simply by driving through them. In Team Sonic Racing, items are called Wisps and range from speed boosts to homing missiles that can slow down other racers. 

In Mario Kart, items are just called items and include classics like the Blue Shell, the homing Red Shell, and Mushrooms for speed boosts.

What Makes Mario Kart Better?

Team Sonic Racing is a fun game, but it’s just too new. It hasn’t yet had time to develop its own identity or build the rabid fanbase that Mario Kart has. In every aspect, from game types to items, Mario Kart is more fleshed out and better developed.

Of course, the current entry is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a remake of the original Mario Kart 8. Nintendo has improved upon the Mario Kart series with each and every iteration, resulting in the powerhouse the game is today. 

If you’re looking for the best kart racer on the market, Mario Kart is the way to go—but if you want to experiment with a fun, serviceable racer that can only improve from here, give Team Sonic Racing a try. 

The 5 Best Online Sources To Buy Used Textbooks

Student debt is a common topic in conversations about higher education, but how much of that debt stems from loans—and how much of it stems from textbooks? Universities don’t have a standardized system for dealing with textbooks.

Some professors write their own and require students to purchase the books, while others use high-priced entries from publishers like McGraw and Pearson. A student taking just four classes a semester might spend $600 or more on textbooks, sometimes for just a single book.

The saving grace of budget-bound college students is the used market. In any college town you will find a used bookstore that specializes in textbooks. Unfortunately, the quantity is often limited. The best option to buy used textbooks is to look online. 

Numerous websites and services provide good-condition or better textbooks for college students. The websites on this list are some of the best. 

Chegg

Chegg is one of the go-to outlets for college students to buy used textbooks because it doesn’t just sell textbooks, but also rents them. If your class requires a brand-new textbook that just released, you might not be able to find a used copy anywhere. On the other hand, renting it means you aren’t shelling out a ridiculous amount of cash. 

Chegg allows you to return books for free with a prepaid shipping label and even provides a 21-day risk-free period. If you decide the class isn’t for you, you can drop it and return the book without any financial risk. 

Chegg saves students up to 90% off textbooks, has a huge question and answer database for those pesky questions, and even offers e-textbooks for many titles. It’s hands-down the best all-around option for college students looking to save money on their textbooks. 

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Amazon

Amazon is the world’s leading online marketplace, so why not look there to buy used textbooks? The truth is, Amazon makes it easy for anyone to sell goods on their platform. College students will find creative ways to make money, so flipping a textbook they no longer need is the perfect solution. 

Just hop on Amazon and look for the textbook you need and there’s a good chance you can find it, even for those more obscure courses and subjects. The only exception are professor-specific textbooks—those might be easier to find from other students on your campus. 

You should know that Amazon also offers Amazon Prime (free two-day shipping, free ebooks each month, and Prime Video) to college students through the Amazon Student deal. It’s a great way to save money on shipping and textbooks—plus, you get a free Netflix alternative. 

Campus Books

CampusBooks lets users buy, rent, and sell textbooks, but its true strength is in its search aggregator. The service looks at various retailers all across the web to help students find the best possible price on a textbook, including Amazon, Chegg, and many others. 

If you want to search almost all of the retailers at once without taking the time to do it yourself, Campus Books is the way to go. And thankfully, textbooks aren’t airline prices—you don’t have to use weird tricks to keep the price from going up.

Textbooks.com

With a name like Textbooks.com, it comes as no surprise that the website commands a huge amount of traffic. On the other hand, the traffic is well-earned. Textbooks.com is one of the easiest-to-use retailers for used textbooks anywhere on the web. 

The site has few frills. From the homepage, users are greeted with a large search bar and three main navigation options: Buy Textbooks, Sell Textbooks, and eTextbooks. The site advertises prices up to 90% off and provides free shipping on orders over $25. 

Textbooks.com claims to have more than 10 million textbooks in stock. The site also provides other services, such as an expert answering service you can use to clarify even the most confusing subjects 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. 

There is also an online writing center available at all times of day with essential services like a plagiarism checker, grammar tool, and citation generator. 

eCampus

Like many of its competitors, eCampus lets you buy used textbooks for up to 90% off their face value. Shipping is free over $35, and the site allows users to buy, sell, and rent textbooks. Customers can save $5 off their order by texting the word books to 87955. 

Where eCampus sets itself apart is via the eWards program. It’s a rewards program that lets users save even more money by spending points. These points can be earned by performing simple tasks like signing up, following eCampus on Twitter, connecting your Facebook account, and much more. You also earn points when you purchase a textbook or rent one. Ironically enough, renting a textbook yields more points per dollar. 

eCampus also provides customers with a “Textbook Guarantee.” The textbooks can be returned for any reason within 25 days of purchase and rentals can be extended at any time. eCampus also provides access to the electronic version of your textbooks. 

eCampus doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as its competition, but if you aren’t likely to use the online help services provided by Chegg and Textbooks.com, you can use the rewards program to save a few extra dollars. 

OTT Explains: Is It Worth Buying Extended Warranties for Tech?

You know the question: “Would you like to invest in the extended warranty for this product?” Sales people push extended warranty on consumers, and it might sound like a great idea. After all, if you’re spending over $1,000 on a new laptop, you’ll want some kind of protection in case it breaks. There is an almost universal pause after the question is asked before the consumer answers with a half-smile, “No thanks. I don’t need that.” 

That pause is when the customer debates; are extended warranties worth it? This holds especially true for parents buying tech for younger children that might break the devices, accidentally or not. 

Are Extended Warranties Worth It For Tech?

The short answer is no, an extended warranty is not worth it. The vast majority of extended warranties go unused and serve to generate revenue for the retailer. Under the vast majority of circumstances, products do not break on their own. If you do happen to break a laptop or a tablet, the cost of repair out of pocket is often less than what you would pay for the extended warranty. 

Let’s put it another way. There is a newsletter called Warranty Week dedicated to the warranty industry. According to a newsletter sent out in September of 2017, warranties are a $23 billion industry. Do people have that many accidents in the span of the first few years of their product’s life? Not likely. 

You are better off saying no to an extended warranty and instead placing that money into a savings account that can be used in the event of an emergency. The only time an extended warranty is worth considering is if you are in a situation where you know the device has a high risk of damage, such as a laptop or tablet for fieldwork where heat, condensation, and other risk factors are outside the norm.

However, make sure your warranty covers the types of damage a work-focused machine might encounter. If your extended warranty doesn’t offer protection for the type of damage your machine might see, skip it and invest in a sturdy case.

Are Other Types Of Warranties Worth It?

While an extended warranty might not be worth your money, there are other types of protections that absolutely are. Your mobile carrier’s protections, for instance. According to a study from SquareTrade, roughly 5,761 smartphone screens break every hour in America. As a country, we are not gentle with our mobile devices. Of course, the study also revealed that the majority of these breaks come from a widespread case of butterfingers—74% of breaks are the result of dropping a device.

Although many people are content to use a phone with a cracked screen as long as the damage isn’t too great, there’s no reason to. Almost every provider and carrier provides a protection plan that allows you to replace a cracked or broken screen for next to nothing. As the cost of screen replacements rise (the iPhone Xs Max averages around $330 to repair), carrier protections are a solid investment. 

Why phones but not laptops? Due to the nature of phones, they are at far greater risk of damage due to the frequency of use. People text on the go, pulling out their phones to check or reply to a message without looking at the path in front of them. When is the last time you actively used a laptop while walking around? 

There is a caveat to this, however. Before you agree to smartphone insurance, take a close look at the terms and conditions. If you’re spending $10 per month on the insurance and still have an out of pocket deductible of upwards of $100 or more, it’s not worth it. If you needed to replace a screen, you could do so with a replacement ordered from Alibaba and a few hours with YouTube.

Are Extended Warranties Worth It For Other Products?

Extended warranties are offered for nearly anything you purchase. If you’re investing in a smart appliance, skip the warranty. The built-in manufacturers warranty will cover any defects in the product that might result in a return. No extended warranty is needed. 

You will likely be offered an extended warranty when purchasing video games. GameStop in particular is notorious for this—$3.99 or so for a year of protection. Companies constantly offer protection plans for game consoles, too. They’re unnecessary. Any manufacturer-born problem will be repaired for little to no cost as game companies try to stay in the gamers’ good graces.

Finally, you do not need an extended warranty for your television. Because TVs are often the centerpoint of a home, companies convince buyers to ensure it is protected all costs. Think, when was the last time a television broke in a way that an extended warranty would cover it? Getting too into a VR game and smashing the screen most likely falls outside the protection of extended warranties. 

Other Factors To Consider

Extended warranties are rarely worth the money. There might be a few specific instances where they are worthwhile, but those are few and far between. On the other hand, you might already have an extended warranty and not even realize it. How? Two words – credit cards.

Many credit card companies provide automatic extended warranties on purchases as a perk to their customers. American Express tends to offer the most thorough coverage, with MasterCard and Visa following behind. Your manufacturer’s warranty can sometimes be extended, too. Check the fine print. In many cases, you can register with the manufacturer and increase the length of coverage at no extra cost.

Do yourself a favor. Skip the extended warranty and invest those funds into a savings account or a reliable protective cover.

Have you purchased an extended warranty in the past? Did you find the extended warranty was it? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Build the Ultimate Super Bowl Smart Home Setup

This coming Sunday, February 2, the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs will face off in Super Bowl LIV for glory, bragging rights, and the Vince Lombardi Trophy. For football fans across America, this is the biggest day of the year. No-holds-barred parties are thrown. Fans will compete to throw the best party, just as fiercely as the two teams will for the winning touchdown. 

If you want to come out on top in the dog-eat-dog world of Super Bowl parties, put your smart home to work for you. This article will be your guide to creating the ultimate Super Bowl smart home, the spot that makes all your friends and family turn green with envy while you all watch the biggest game of the year in the coolest surroundings. 

Step One: The TV

The TV is the center point of any Super Bowl-focused smart home. You want to be able to see every player and every play in crisp, clear detail. It goes without saying that the screen should be large enough that guests scattered across the room can see without squinting, too. 

A set like the LG 75” UHD 4K TV will do the trick—and because it has Alexa built-in, you can control every aspect of the TV without a remote. Just ask Alexa to adjust the volume, stream the game from your favorite streaming service, and more. If Alexa isn’t your smart assistant of choice, this TV also works with Google Assistant and supports AirPlay casting

Even if you opt for a different TV, choose a smart one. While you can plug in a Chromecast or a Fire Stick to give it smart capabilities, it’s far more convenient to have those features baked in automatically. 

Step Two: The Sound

Super Bowl parties are loud. The last thing you want is to miss any of the action or commentary because of cheering (or if your team is not so lucky, groaning.) A strong sound bar can blast the sound throughout the room without need for an expensive and hard-to-set-up surround sound system. 

The Sonos Beam is one of the best options for the Super Bowl. It’s compact, but has four full-range woofers and one tweeter to cover the full range of sound. It also works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home so that when the game is done and you’re ready to listen to some music to unwind, you can stream your favorite tunes straight to the sound bar. 

Best of all, setup is simple. The Sonos Beam only requires two cords to operate properly and automatically detects the remote. There’s no need to go through a lengthy pairing process. 

Step Three: The Atmosphere

The atmosphere is almost as important as the TV and the sound. You need to nail the lighting to represent your favorite team, and for that there is no better option than the LIFX Z-TV Strip. 

This strip fits on the back of your television and throws ambient light onto the wall behind it. Pretty standard, right? It would be, except that the LIFX Z-TV Strip allows you to “paint” each segment. You can show a dozen different colors from a single strip. Paint it in your favorite team’s colors to show your team spirit. 

And because LIFX doesn’t require a hub, you don’t need to use any extra space on your router—just pair each light directly with your Wi-Fi. 

To add to the effect, you can toss in some of LIFX’s A19 size bulbs in the rest of the lighting throughout your home.

A final note on lighting: if you’re wondering about flashing your smart lights when your team scores, there are several options out there. The original method involved the ESPN app, but it has since discontinued its API and the original IFTTT recipe no longer works. We have not tested any of the other options and cannot speak to their efficacy. 

Step Four: The Food

One of the best parts of any Super Bowl party is the sheer amount of delicious (often incredibly unhealthy) food. The good news is that there is no need for food to be unhealthy; with an air fryer, you can cook the normal Super Bowl snacks with a minimal amount of oil. 

While they won’t win any awards for nutrition at the best of times, you can avoid some of the most unhealthy parts of food. The Cosori Air Fryer lets you do more than just fry food, too; there are 11 different presets for different styles of cooking, all in a fraction of the time it would normally take. 

Clean-up is easy, too. The air fryer baskets are dishwasher-safe, so you can simply remove them from your fryer and toss them into the dishwasher to let the machine do the work. 

Step Five: The Drinks

No Super Bowl party is complete without beverages. Of course, no one wants to get up and miss even a moment of the game to grab another drink. That’s where the Sobro Smart Coffee Table comes in. 

This coffee table, while pricey, has a built-in refrigerator inside it. It’s also equipped with two built-in Bluetooth speakers, USB chargers, 4 110V outlets, and even LED lights. 

The coffee table does require its own power source, so you will have to plug it into a wall outlet. The best way to keep the cable out of the way is to run it under the carpet or to use a cord concealer. Otherwise, setting up the table is as simple as plugging it in and allowing it to cool.