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Plan ahead. This is common sense, but some people think they can buy a show on iTunes and watch it within minutes. iTunes is not “on demand”. Consider yourself lucky if you start the download in the morning, and are able to watch it by the evening. If you are a “cord-cutter” and have ditched cable, it is essential to plan ahead when watching iTunes content. I not only have to plan ahead, but also need to continually pause the download. I often need the full speed of my internet connection. I’m not sure why iTunes is so slow, yet seems to hog my internet connection. I checked on Speedtest.net, and I have more than enough bandwidth for iTunes’ trickle-download and my web-surfing activities. Yet, for some reason, downloading from iTunes and surfing the web, even on a different device, doesn’t work well. Sometimes I will just use my iPhone and its 3G connection.
If possible, run the download overnight. At least on the West Coast, iTunes is much faster after midnight. It “only” takes about 4 seconds to download 1 MB. I would suspect, on the East Coast or anywhere else in the world, this might not be the case. Maybe it will be reasonably fast at 4 AM on the East Coast? If this is not possible, start a few downloads and let them run all day while you are at work. You will probably be able to download one or two hours of HD video by the time you get home. Weekdays tend to be faster than weekends.
If you are following a new series, keep in mind, iTunes doesn’t always send you a reminder when a new episode is available. You probably want to keep track of when new episodes are released and set a calendar event or reminder. The last episode of Breaking Bad was available on iTunes, yet I never received an email reminder. It’s typical for Apple these days. Their iTunes ecosystem is flakey and buggy. Set your reminder for the morning, so you can start the download early.
Plug in the charger. This will not only save your battery, but it seems to download faster. I tried this a few times, comparing the unplugged speed vs. the plugged-in speed. It always downloads faster when plugged in. This may be by design. The iPad’s wi-fi reception seems to work better when plugged in. In either event, if you are downloading a TV episode and it takes 6-10 hours, you will use up a whole battery cycle just for one show. The iPad’s battery can handle about 1000 charge cycles before the battery starts to lose capacity. Plug it in! If this is not an option, at least turn down the brightness all the way. Remember — you shouldn’t lock the screen unless it is plugged in, as it may cause the download to cease.
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