Users are faced with a bewildering choice of different computers and devices.
So what are the basic differences between the different basic players in this business?
Apple's primary business is selling equipment. Apple is known for its outstanding help, training, and support. That is a big part of what you pay for. If you don't need these things, there are better alternatives. Their most appealing product is the iPad Air.
Google's primary business is advertising and it has provided the most widely used systems freely for other providers of phones, tablets and laptops. Google needs to get its message out there in the most effective possible way, whatever that takes. They have reduced the cost of equipment and made it better. The most appealing product is the Nexus 7 tablet, followed by a wide variety of Android phones which dominate the smartphone business
Microsoft's main business has been in the operating system itself and in software such as Windows Office. Long the standard, Windows runs consistently across a variety of devices. It is known for its configurability but also its requirement for support by the user.
This is changing as Microsoft tries to keep up with the competition. The user screens are now the best in the business with the Modern screen tiles.
With Microsoft switching to cloud based operation, and drastically reducing memory requirements, prices have fallen to as low as $60 for a fine WinBook 7 inch tablet which runs both the Modern tablet and the full Windows 8.1 operating system. The most appealing products are the latest under $100 and even under $200 phones, tablets, and laptops.
Amazon's main business is selling everything online, including media. Its devices are designed to serve that purpose. They do that job well. Their most desirable product is probably the $100 Kindle Fire 6" tablet which can be used as a phone with WiFi or a hotspot.
Both Microsoft, and especially Amazon, limit Google apps and important functionality, though.
These limitations can be overcome. "Sideloading" is a way doing that for Amazon. Using Favorites are Bookmarks provides another. These can be added to the home screen to work just like apps.
So how does this work out for users?
Those who need support should stay with the iPad. Those who do not need support can save the expense.
Many seniors also really need to carry a smartphone, if only the least cost such phone, with a cheap $10 a month plan.
A lightweight transportable device is desirable which is easier to read and home than a smartphone.
For Windows zealots, the Winbook can serve as one device which serves most of the functions of smart phone, tablet, and even laptop, at a ridiculously low price.
(It takes some doing to configure it with its rather limited memory, and the $100 HP Stream 7 inch tablet is an alternative)
The $100 Kindle Fire can bridge phone and tablet while also mirroring to large screen or TV.
At the point where these devices cost less than half a dozen books, more than one is desirable.