Laptop USB ports, are they slow as standard?

Ive seen a few others with laptops, trying to burn at 16x on their external drives/drives with enclosures to no avail. I was checking out the cache settings in Nero, and when my external hard disk is connected I get 14,000kb/s via USB and 24,000kb/s by firewire.

The actual speed of the laptops hard disk is (5400rpm) with burst rate of (when checking cashe preferences in Nero) 14,000kb/s

I believe when:

-external writer connected via Firewire & external hard disk connected to laptop via USB; the USB port = the bottleneck

-external dvd writer connected via firewire; the internal hard disk= the bottleneck

I am able to get a max speed of 11x, no matter which way I do it because one way or the other there is the 14,000kb/s bottleneck whether its from the internal hdd or the USB ports.

My question is; do all laptops have these 2 bottlenecks, or is my laptop faulty and in need of a service? Would the tech people be able to fix this problem with some sort of drivers or tweak the mobo?

Would a PCIMCIA card with 1x firewire 800 connected to the external hard disk, and 1x firewire 1394 connected to the external writer, give a 24x burst rate for both the external hard disk AND the writer? Has anyone else used one of these adapters? I am really thinking that the fault is with the laptops USB ports, as I bought a 5 metre Belkin USB2 cable, and it wont even work when I try to connect my printer to it with that cable.

bump; nobody here uses a laptop with external writer?