On serverfault.com, Rory McCann asked, “What’s the best terminal editor to suggest to a Unix newbie? i.e. not vi or Emacs.”
This answer, which purposefully ignores the original poster’s restriction, says it best:
Because time invested in learning an editor is productive only as long as you keep using that editor. All those less expressive options are poor choices for the long run, and will be abandoned eventually. At which point the time spent learning them is wasted, and the user still has to learn Emacs or vi.
In other words, the best (most expressive) tool for the job is one of Emacs or vi, and so you’ll eventually switch to one of them. It ultimately doesn’t matter which one you choose, but you would be smart to invest yourself into learning one of them.
For the record, I’m a vim user, and I love using it.