I've been on an 2011 11" MBA (not by choice) for almost a year now and quite enjoy it for programming. At first the screen real estate felt cramped but using things like tmux really helped. The best feature of the 11" is portability. I used to have a 2009 15" MBP and thought it wasn't so bad carrying around. But was surprised when I went to go pick it up after using the 11" MBA for a while.
Paired with mobile hotspot, and the good fortune of working remotely, I could work on the road literally anywhere. Which has afforded me random road trips with the family.
With an upcoming job change, I'm opting for my next laptop to be a 13" MBP with touch bar. I was eyeing the non-touch bar but was surprised for the same price for 16GB of ram, better CPU and 512 GB SSD option on the non-touch bar, the base touch bar still had a slightly better GPU, CPU and 2 extra thunderbolt ports. Plus you know, touch bar.
And you might be asking but what about VIM and the ESC key?! While I'm not a hardcore VIM user, when I do use VIM, I've mapped it to jj so I won't be needing to mash a physical ESC key.
I will say the 15" MBP does make me envious of its discreet graphics card, but at the end of the day, it's the size and portability that's won me over. And if I need something a little more graphics intensive, there's an iMac at home for that.
So may not be for everyone, but I'm definitely a fan of the smaller MB(A/P)s.
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