Setup, repair of smartphones, tablets still frustrates many

Some consumers just give up and call tech support

If you feel you are a lost cause at setting up and operating the latest tablets and smartphones, you aren't alone.

A recent survey from Harris Interactive found 27 per cent of digital device owners said it was difficult for them to set up the devices, and 25 per cent said they usually give up trying to finish the setup or call tech support for help.

When it comes to fixing a problem on a device, 41 per cent said they find it difficult, and a third (31 per cent) said they felt that their attempts made things worse, prompting them to give up or call for tech support.

About 34 per cent said fixing devices and computers is getting harder than it was in the past.

Most people encountering problems with setup or fixing a problem rely on family or friends for help, but 13 per cent rely on a third-party help desk or repair shop. The survey also found that the average age of the person who most often did the repairs or troubleshooting was 35.

The survey was commissioned by NortonLive, which offers a consumer-focused Ultimate Help Desk service to help support of home printers, Wi-Fi routers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. NortonLive, part of the security software vendor Symantec, sponsored the survey partly because of the flood of new devices hitting the market, including the Apple iPad 2 , which hits shelves Friday.

The survey of 1,019 U.S. adults over age 18 was conducted by telephone from Dec. 15-19.

All the major U.S. wireless carriers and device retailers, such as Best Buy, have customer support programs for consumer electronics, including smartphones and tablets, with most adding an additional service cost on top of the device purchase price.

NortonLive has a range of services on its Web site, including a $4.95 one-time Rescue Me service for PCs and an Ultimate Help Desk service starting at $19.99 a month for around-the-clock help with PCs, networks, printers, smartphones and other connected digital devices.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
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