USB vs Firewire

I'm amazed this hasn't been done before, but i searched a few times and got no results. also i'm not sure where to put this but since i am going to talk within the context of attaching an external hard drive this seems a good place.

Anyway, on to the topic...

So i always assumed usb2 was faster than firewire 400 (or ieee 1394a, i think). from what i can remember reading the usb bus is set at 480mb/s and the firewire bus is at 400. but apparently a device can never use all of that? also usb seems to be more popular, so i naturally assumed the more popular was the best (yes i know thats the assumption of a sheep [follow the crowd]). anyway reading an article on wikipedia about Firewire 800, and it referes to firewire 'already being faster than usb' which led me to think usb was in fact slower.
reading this article here i still get the feeling that firewire is better (although the graphs are for 1394b, which is firewire 800 (?)).

So. i can't use e-sata cause i don't have the connection on my macbook, or my home pc, but my macbook runs most things on the usb bus (i.e. the keyboard, trackpad isight etc) and the firewire bus is sitting doing nothing.
So (yes bad sentence writing i know), which is faster, and more importantly(?) which is better. i've noticed on the whole that very few items have firewire, and those that do are often £10+ more expensive.
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  1. Dam, missed something out. firstly the link to the wiki article , and secondly i've seen lots of devices that use firewire 800 with just 2 400 ports. can you use an adapter to make a 800 from 2 400's (should the device support it)? (FW400 uses 6 pins [two for power] and FW800 uses 9 pins...)
  2. I don't have much background in firewire, but from what I understand USB has more overhead associated with the data transfer. So you get more usable data transfered per second with firewire.
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