A new study released by Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project takes a look at “Americans and their gadgets.” The 15 page report (PDF here) identifies key appliances of the information age: laptops, cell phones, tablet computers (like the iPad) and e-book readers (such as the Kindle) , game consoles, and MP3 players and who is using them.

Main findings of the report:

Cell phones – 85% of Americans now own a cell phone. Cell phone ownership rates among young adults illustrate the extent to which mobile phones have become a necessity of modern communications: fully 96% of 18-29 year olds own a cell phone of some kind.

Desktop and laptop computers – Three quarters (76%) of Americans own either a desktop or laptop computer. Since 2006, laptop ownership has grown dramatically (from 30% to 52%) while desktop ownership has declined slightly.

Mp3 players – Just under half of American adults (47%) own an mp3 player such as an iPod, a nearly five-fold increase from the 11% who owned this type of device in early 2005.

Game consoles – Console gaming devices like the Xbox and PlayStation are nearly as common as mp3 players, as 42% of Americans own a home gaming device. Parents (64%) are nearly twice as likely as non-parents (33%) to own a game console.

Tablet computers and e-book readers – Compared to the other devices in this list, e-book readers (such as the Kindle) and tablet computers (such as the iPad) are relatively new arrivals to the consumer technology scene and are owned by a relatively modest number of Americans. However, these devices are proving popular with traditional early adopter groups such as the affluent and highly educated--ownership rates for tablets and e-book readers among college graduates and those earning $75,000 or more per year are roughly double the national average.

The findings are based on a survey of 3,001 American adults (ages 18 and older) conducted between August 9 and September 13, 2010. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish, and the survey included 1,000 cell phone interviews. The report can be download from Pew at: Americans and their gadgets (PDF).

Recent research from Pew also found that 42% of Americans consider a TV set to be a necessity, down 10% from 2009, while 47% consider a cell a necessity and 49% consider a home computer a necessity.