Lowes was selling the window version MES 30 for 50% off, clearing them out for the new models it seems, so I finally took the dive. After reading this site I ordered an AMNPS with a variety of 2lb bags through a bundle on Amazon that arrived today. I also got an angled elbow for the exhaust vent. Basically taking on all the suggestions I saw on this site for the MES. I also pulled the loader out a couple inches and turned it over as suggested.
I grabbed some boneless pork ribs from the grocery store just to do something inexpensive for the first smoke just in case I screwed it up. Loaded up two rows on the AMNPS since it was only a 3-4 hour smoke with Hickory and Cherry. I lit it using the methods suggested here (burn the ends with a torch for 45 seconds- 1 minute then blow on the embers a bit, let it burn through a couple inches) and the AMNPS stayed perfectly lit through the whole thing, giving off the perfect amount of light smoke.
The ribs came out great. Only issue I hit was I wanted to cook it another hour in foil as the recipe suggested to make them a bit more tender but ran out of time before dinner.
Anyway, I have been wanting a smoker for a long time and it has all been worth it. I have some family coming over tomorrow and I bought more ribs and a small brisket I wanted to take a shot at. I also have a ribeye I thought about tossing in for an hour and see how that goes.
Thanks to everyone that posts such great information here!