Walt Mossberg’s Spring Laptop Buyers Guide

A laptop or a tablet? That is the question, and according to Wall Street Journal Personal Technology columnist Walt Mossberg, it’s exactly the decision on many consumers’ minds this spring.

“Usually I write a kind of laptop buyers guide and I think things are really in flux in the industry right now,” he said. “With a lot of energy that used to go into the kind of new designs and new features on laptops has been drained off all these companies are pounding away trying to catch up to or beat the iPad and so laptops have kind of not advanced very much in the last six months.”

Mossberg’s advice: if you’re looking for a laptop, but can afford to wait, hold off. “There are gonna be such new kinds of laptops coming, influenced by the tablets, that if you can wait, I think you should wait.”

Mossberg thinks computer makers will start looking to popular tablet devices for inspiration for new features to add. A major feature set to change, he said, is start-up time. Consumers see that tablets like the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad start up instantly and wonder why full-blown laptops and desktops can’t do the same. Tablets are essentially stripped-down computers themselves, after all, he said.

However, for consumers looking for a small, secondary travel laptop, Mossberg said, a tablet can be a real alternative that needs to be considered, unless they need one that can do the things tablets can’t do as well, like run a full operating system, such as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows or Mac OS X, or feature a full keyboard.