It’s a frequent argument that I see between the “PSN is free!” and “But Xbox Live is better!” crowds, and I’ve been firmly in the latter camp. The rubbish download speeds, sub-Xbox (that’s the original Xbox) feature set, poor or complete lack of integration in games, optional features that should be mandatory, bloated download sizes (over 150MB for a Super Stardust HD patch), unreliable connection, etc. Most of the complaints still stand and I’d rather pay for a good service than get an adequate one, but I’ve at least I’ve found the cause of the first and last ones.
I’ve seen a few complaints about the quality of the PS3’s built-in wi-fi, and indeed mine can only manage a 40% signal strength through a single wall that leaves my laptop with almost 80%. Downloading a firmware update through PSN takes over an hour compared with 20 minutes or so to download through my computer and a USB drive. The final straw came when I tried four times to download the patch for Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, which took well over an hour to download a third of the way, only to fail completely.
With the aforementioned issues in mind, I splashed out £13.99 for an ethernet switch, the Netgear FS605. (Any should work; I just went with Netgear because I like its stuff.) The ethernet cable that went directly into my 360 now goes into that, and it supplies Internet goodness to both systems, with two free ports for anything else that might turn up in future.
The improvement was immediate. The GT5 patch downloaded first time within about 15 minutes, and I was able to download the 720p Resident Evil 5 trailer fast enough to stream a good chunk of it. Much more satisfactory, and closer to the speeds that I’ve always been getting from Live.
Completely unscientific and anecdotal without any evidence or statistical basis it may be, but I’ve proven (to myself, at least) that the PS3’s wireless is rubbish and furthered my pro-wired networking agenda. A stable, secure 100Mbps network is just better than a wireless 54Mbps (theoretical) one with signal strength and passwords to worry about. Mine’s now quite happy to stream 1080p video from my computer, which just wasn’t happening with both on wireless connections.