MrSmoky welcome to SMF!
I am a MES40 owner have been a forum member almost 6 years, I used this forum to decide which smoker to buy. I always recommend two smokers, the first of course is the MES 40, I understand some don't have room, money, or need for the 40, so they go with 30", but I also know that many 30 owners upgrade to the 40, I never hear of 40 owners going to a 30. There are a lot of reasons for buying the MES40 electric smoker.
• Electric is the most economical cost smoking method, figure about 11-13 cents per hour depending on your area's utility cost
• Ease, since you don't have to hassle with fuel, either acquiring, stock/storing, and setup, that whole headache is eliminated.
• Digital control, temp & time control just like your oven or microwave, and to help monitor that temp the MES includes temp probe and some models a meat probe. * Note I always use a backup external probe setup to double check what the MES is reading.
• Insulated cooking cabinet. Might not sound like a big deal, well try smoking during the dead of winter in one of the colder states and you will quickly appreciate the double walled insulated cabinet. Thus you have a very stable cooking platform. This is important for repeat/consistent performance and quality in your Q, the competition BBQ folks using stick burners do the same by using thicker metal to keep the temp stable, however in home/backyard BBQs MFG go cheap to keep price down, not the MES the consistent performance is there due to the double wall insulated construction.
• MES 40 size/Capacity is PERFECT, you can smoke a whole rack of ribs without cutting or rolling, most smokers are not wide enough, with 4 shelves you can lay out 2 racks per shelf for 8 racks, that is enough for most families. Using vertical rib racks, I smoke up to 16 racks of ribs at once, I could easily have rib racks made that would smoke 5 per shelf. Some have smoked enough Q in their MES 40 for 100 people.
• Performance, there are many on this forum that have owned charcoal, gas, stick burners, and they testify that the MES Q is as good as any other method.
• More features for your buck. No other smoker in this price range includes so many features, 1200 watt heat element, internal & meat temperature sensing, digital controller, external wood chip access, double walled construction, window to see you Q, best capacity for your buck, outstanding Q performance/quality/taste.
So if you decide electric then MES 40 is a top choice.
I said I recommend two, the other is the WSM (Weber Smoky Mountain), when I bought my MES 6 years ago, I would have bought the WSM instead, why? If you read the different BBQ forums, you will find the WSM highly recommended. If you go to a BBQ competition and walk around you will find almost every team have a WSM either as a backup or as primary cooker. In fact in 2009 the KCBS (Kansas City BBQ Society) that's the premier competition BBQ sanctioning org, 2009 Team of the year used exclusively WSM smokers. I believe this is a testimony to the Q prowess of the WSM, and there is one other reason all these teams have them, the WSM delivers championship Q for very little investment.
So why did I buy the MES? My main reason for buying a smoker was to regularly have smoked pork ribs during our summer Sunday BBQs, I didn't want to roll them, cut them for cooking. The WSM six years ago was only 18" in diameter, with limited capacity, to cook more than one rib rack they had to be rolled or cut. Also I wanted more capacity for those 2 or 3 30+ people BBQs we do each year. So the WSM 18 was OUT for me 6 years ago. Today though there is a WSM 22", with plenty of capacity and the ability to cook ribs without cutting or rolling, still not quite the capacity, but the quality of Q would more than make up for that. PLUS if you ever feel like competing in a BBQ competition you are all set to go.
If you want cooking ease then MES, if you want what many consider the best quality in taste and a the choice of hundreds of BBQ competition teams the WSM.