sounds good, but if you can't get it working, don't like it or want to try something else out, try Amarok or Gtkpod on your Ubuntu. Amarok is a KDE application, but a fairly good one when it comes to handling portable players, so don't be afraid of trying it out -- should run just fine on your Ubuntu (Gnome desktop), but might require you to install some KDE libraries in the process (again no worry; the package manager handles this all for you).
You should make one thread per one problem, to get good exposure; putting several separate questions (problems) into the same post makes it more difficult to 1) find the thread, so people who could potentially answer might never read it, 2) get a clear no-confusion view of what you're trying to do, 3) answer clearly, because answers get mixed up in the posts -- there's no sane plot in the answers anymore.
For torrents I just use the Transmission app (both on Ubuntu and OS X), though I mainly download ISO images of Linux distributions nowadays, so I'm not sure how it compares to the others..for me it has worked well, though, no speed problems I've noticed -- except those that rise from limited number of seeds and their upload speeds, and possible ISP interaction (limiting the traffic speed). To test the speed you should locate a torrent that you know is available, has a very good number of seeds all the time (so you know you are able to download it at maximum speed at any time, so the upload speed of the seeds doesn't interfere) and try downloading that several times (during a time longer than one day or two days, as the speeds may depend on the time of day!) A file that resides on a fast mirror close to you that has lots of seeds all the time would be good, for example some Linux operating system image. The file should be big enough to give an accurate mean value for the download speed (a 1kB file will very probably give you unrealistic download speeds), and the best case was if you could have a separated network (a laboratory), a controlled environment, but I take it that's not possible..
Most of the time slow torrent download speeds are caused by users limiting their upload speeds, lack of seeds, slow connections and possibly internet server providers making torrent traffic go slow if they can (they try to do it here). But if the material is illegal, it's just good, right?