Aspicola: Honestly, this is what I'd tell you if we both were standing in a saloon drinking a couple of beers. Also, this is just my personal opinion. In the price range you're looking at you're going to get what you pay for. I've been down the road of modifying a Smoking Pro and it's a lot of time, work and money to modify it.The problem with the low price smokers in your price range is what you're working with in the first place. The thin metal, doesn't retain or distribute heat. The workmanship is not the greatest. There are air leak that carry out moisture,which dries up the meat and these leaks make it difficult to control air flow and the air flow controls your temperature. Also, the heat wants to go "up & out" and not sideways. Once I modified the Smoking Pro, it produced some good product but it was a struggle to deal with each time I used it. Near the end of my frustration, I converted it to propane and then gave it away.
Lets say you spend $350 to purchase the unit -- you're then going to have to invest some more $$$ to modify it plus the time it takes. In my case, I wish I had purchased my Lang in the first place but "I didn't know what I didn't know about smokers". I thought, like some others, that I could take the Smoking Pro out of the box and start producing a quality product -- didn't happen.
The suggestion regarding the Weber Smokey Mountain is a good one. It produces good product right out of the box but folks modify it also. The WSM will give you what you indicated you were looking for -- it's a quality unit which will produce good food using a real fire (charcoal) and produce true BBQ flavor.