All of these are questions that I am frequently asked by the many district administrators and educators that I work with. All of these are great questions and while I know I frustrate so many of the individuals I talk to I can't say which is better. iPads are and do tend to be better for the younger grades, students can easily carry these devices from room to room, they tend to last longer than Chromebooks do, and you can run chrome or safari on these. When it comes to iPads you are not limited to one tool, you can use Apple products, Microsoft products, or Google products; this being a huge benefit of iPads. A few of the teachers and school districts that I work with are even writing their own curriculum in iBooks so that students can have the textbook on their iPad. Why does this matter? When you have a district where over 50% of your students do not have the internet at home, having access to the textbook, tools, and resources while at home is huge. Chromebooks are much cheaper than iPads, allowing districts to buy these by the dozen instead of a few at a time. Chromebooks are easier to share between students, so not ever student needs their own device and Chromebooks offer keyboards so students can practice their typing skills. Chromebooks integrate very well for districts that are already using Google Apps, these devices are quick to sign on and even offer the tablet style depending on the style you get. Laptops offer endless possibilities because you are not tied into one web browser or office tool (Google or Microsoft). Students can share devices, and software can easily be pushed out the various devices and even individual students.
So which device is the best?
All of them or none of them depending on how you use them. I say this to every district administrator I speak with, it doesn't matter what technology you have (latest or greatest) if you aren't using it appropriately there is no point in having it. Teachers have and will always want whatever technology they don't have (if you give them iPads they want Chromebooks, if you give them Chromebooks they want iPads) but it's not about the technology you have it's about what you do with the technology. Are you students using it for creation or collaboration OR are they just using it for consumption? There isn't a device out there that doesn't offer students the ability to create or collaborate with others but there also isn't a device out there that doesn't offer students the ability to consume information. It all comes back to the teacher in the classroom and what he or she chooses to do with these devices. You can have the latest and greatest technology but if you choose to just simply use it for consumption nothing, I repeat nothing in your classroom will change.