To help you do that, this article compares the iPad and Mac and Windows laptops in a number of ways, from software to hardware to fit for use by a middle schooler. When I refer to “laptops,” I’m using mainstream devices as my guide, not cheap netbooks, sleek ultra-portables, or high-end deluxe machines. For the Mac, this means the MacBook Pro line; for PCs, I used a selection of mid-price laptops from Lenovo, Dell, HP, and Sony.
When it comes to the bottom line, the iPad is tops. Its least-expensive model is just $499, and the most expensive, at $829, about matches the cheapest Windows laptop. Expect to spend $800 and up for a decent Windows machine, and $1200 and up for a Mac.