Today's techiest gadgets are too complicated, too confusing and too prone to breakdowns, according to a new survey by The Pew Internet & American Life Project.

It surveyed over 2000 American adults using consumer electronics and found that 48 per cent couldn't set up a new mobile phone or internet connection without help.

Breakdowns were also an issue, with web connections proving the most troublesome: 44 per cent of people suffered some serious downtime over the previous 12 months.

Unsurprisingly, computers were the next most common culprits, with 39 per cent of laptops and desktops going haywire over the course of a year.

Calling for help

More reliable were mobile phones (29 per cent), BlackBerrys and other smartphones (26 per cent), and the positively rock-solid MP3 players (15 per cent).

Older users took more care of their phones, with the over 50s experiencing 5 per cent less failures than the under 30s.

When it came to fixing their gadgets, Americans still rely on human rather than technological help. A third fixed the problem themselves, slightly more used tech support and 15 per cent asked a friend. Just 2 per cent used the web to search for solutions.

Shockingly, nearly in 7 were unable to get their device fixed at all - a massive 15 per cent fatality rate.