I have had 3 or 4 analog smokers. They are completely different than a digital.
An Analog works like an old bread kil, you raise the temp to high to ignite the chips, then reduce to one of 4 or 5 preset cooking temperatures (mine was only High/Med/Low). What this means is you definitely can't be opening the box. Because when you release the initial smoke there ain't no more. Smoke doesn't get old, its smoke, it starts nasty. With an analog you build up your smoke and allow it to sit doing all the work it can possibly do.
Its not a bad way, it was all we had as electric for years and years.
Digital is much easier and more precise. You can regulate your cooking temps to exact degrees, regulate your smoke like a fire breather, and have the moisture retention of an analog.
A bit of advise, I have both currently and the analog seems to be getting rusty due to neglect.
If you are looking at an MES30, save some more money and get the MES40. I really wish someone would have told me this. Why? You'll get tired of having to cut spare ribs in pieces to get them in the box, as you will large briskets, etc...... The 40 really has the most perfect size for a residential smoker.'
Also if by chance you are in apt. you might check your city ordnances as to smoking also. I know in most towns that I lives it too was illegal unless the box was used in excess of 15ft from what they determine to be the edge of the roofs eave.
All the above are strictly my opinions and we all know what opinions are like.......
BTW my analogs are NOT Masterbuilt but Redi-Smok, which was the predecessor to Old Smokey. But they all work the same. They are great for fowl but not so much on red meats.
Edited by Foamheart - 6/5/14 at 1:52pm