I have one of the tiny little 12" MacBooks (actually, PowerBook, I guess). The monitor screen is way too tiny for me -- my desktop is hooked up to 2 19" flatpanels, so when I open up the laptop it feels like a cell phone screen.
The 15" ones are nice. A couple of friends have the 17" model, and they get tired of lugging it around.
For over two years my main computer was a 12" PowerBook combined with an external keyboard and a 17" monitor for desktop use.
That way I had the best of both worlds, an ergonomic desktop setup and a small but powerful laptop for travel. I still use the PowerBook for travel although my main desktop computer these days is a 20" iMac.
The keyboard is great on all the MacBook models, if you want desktop real estate get a MacBook Pro. The 15" native resolution is 1440x900.
My main computer for everyday work, including server administration and website development, is a MacBook Pro 15". The screen size is perfect for this, and never really got the need to connect it to my external monitor.
I've tried 12" PowerBooks and while they're good on the road (perfect to take at conventions for example) I would not want to work on those everyday. Can't tell about 13.3" though. But really, the 15" is just perfect as a primary machine.
I use the Macbook Pro 15" I think the size is perfect, not too big, not too small. The screen is a good size and I have no problems with the keyboard.
My housemate has the same system but the 17" version, he often complains that its too large and bulky for a laptop.
I use a MacBook for website development too. It's great for what I use it for, but that might be because I am a commuting student. Hook up the MacBook to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse, and you're good to go.
Use a MBP 17" for years now. Upgraded to get the high res screen (1920x1200) when that came out (and sold the old one at that time).
Before that I had a 15" PB ... while a good machine, the screen real estate of the new one is what I need. Dual monitors etc is all possible but forces you behind a desk. I like the hanging in the couch better.
I've had my 15" MBP now, about a month... Keyboard and screen feel about right after the 15" HP.
(FWIW I was going to buy it totally souped up, but came to my senses and toned down a bit on memory and hard drive. Now I find myself forgetting, and trying to use MBP touchpad gestures on mi esposa's HP...no workee. I'll have to be schizophrenic to maintain both machines.)
Thanks, all, for your advice.
The blessed touchpad gestures..... this feature alone makes the Apple laptops superior!
I cringe when I'm helping a friend who is on a PC Laptop and I can't two finger scroll.
I do all my web work on a mac mini with a 19" monitor during the day and do my surfing and research in the evening from a 14 " iBook G4 laptop. I don't like working on the small screen on the laptop with so many documents needing to be open at once.
In short yes, I have the macbook for 2 years now, and if its something you stare at all day and use it as your primary computer, get the macbook pro.