Back before cable, all you had to do to fix a TV was hit it on the side with a kitchen knife (according to my step-grandfather, at least). With today’s ever-changing technology, on the other hand, where evolution and marketing cycles drives regular adoption of a host of new technologies, fixing new devices is becoming increasingly frustrating and difficult. While it seems like companies are able to introduce new gadgets seemingly everyday, the devices themselves have a pretty high failure rate, says a new study by Pew Internet. 15% of all respondents were unable to fix their broken gadgets. The most problematic were cell phones: nearly a quarter of cell phone users (23%) were unable to get these devices fixed. 19% of computer owners had the same result.

“These findings are a signal to the designers of information technology that they have to do a better job of making these gadgets more user-friendly to segments of the population that don’t eat and breathe technology,” said John Horrigan, Pew’s associate director for research.

Home Internet connections are the most problematic, as 46% reported having failures in the last 12 months. 28% of respondents had their computer fail, and 21%, their cell phone. PDAs and MP3 players were the most reliable.

While 72% were confident with their ability to fix a device, 59% were impatient, 48% were discouraged, and 40% were confused. Those who fixed the devices themselves were more confident than those who relied on others.

Another part of the study highlights the death of the land line, as the percentage of cell phone users who also owned land lines decreased significantly among the younger demographics. While 79% of cell phone users age 50-64 also had land lines, while only 52% those 30-49 and 30% of 18-29 year-olds did.

By Mark Alvarez