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For a Windows laptop, anything with a current or prior gen i3 or i5 and at
least 4GB RAM will be OK for light duty use. 6+GB RAM is much better.
You're not going to find a decently fast hard drive or an SSD in the budget
units so just take whatever it offers .. you can upgrade later if you
want. I just replaced my wife's laptop HD with a Samsung SSD and the
provided SW made it a breeze to transfer the HD partitions over.

Do you have battery life expectations? Weight limits? Desired screen size?

We bought a 15" Dell Inspiron for my mother-in-law some months back; it's
working quite well and IIRC the price was around $400. Bought it with 4GB
RAM and added a 2nd 4GB for a few bucks.

If you look at tablets I would recommend avoiding the 7" and under crowd.
I have an 8" Galaxy Note and I find that to be the perfect screen size for
me. The tablet fits in a jacket pocket (some pants pockets as well) so
it's still very portable unlike the relative bulk of a 10"+ unit. That
extra inch of screen space over the 7" crowd makes not only the display but
the on-screen keyboard far better. Beyond that, just make sure the apps
you want are available for the tablet OS before you buy. The Kindle app
store, for instance, is still very limited in comparison to Android & iOS
(Kindle runs Android under the covers so it capable of running Android apps
.. it just takes a lot of work to do it as I found when I loaded an Android
app to my wife's Fire HDX).

We're playing with a Surface Pro 3 here at work. Very nice - the screen is
beautiful - but it doesn't fit the 'budget' requirement.

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