I'd give it 10 stars if I could -- only because I built my first two smokers from scratch and understand "smoking" principles (laws actually). There were alot of great suggestions in this review section which helped me prepare for my purchase. Price was no object, but value and enjoyment were and this unit exceeded my expectations.
Briefly, some principles are: Just like buying a new car, adjustments must be made to suit you (seats, mirrors, radio, climate control, etc.) and that's what makes smoking fun over grilling -- and this unit makes it easy; Oxygen is fuel to the fire (just like propane) and should be adjusted accordingly; air leaks must be delt with for constant/consistant temperature -- if needed, go to an auto parts store and pick up high temperature caulk -- I didn't need to with my unit because of the venting adjustments I could make as-is; thermometers are guages, hence all must be calibrated -- I have three that all read differently -- and using boiling water (212 degrees) as a calibrator, you can easily figure out what a thermometer reads (actually, you should do this with ANY meat thermometer to ensure food safety); clean-up should be easy -- you shouldn't have to take a smoker to a car wash everytime you use it; access to the food and fire should be easy and safe -- this unit is great for that; read up on smoking and what to expect -- fall-off-the bone ribs aren't truly smoked ribs, and some meats will have red in them after they've reached proper temperature -- and that is OK; and finally, the end-product should be your focus -- not the appliance -- this is simply a vehicle/oven for producing consistent mouth-watering results.
If you're not into an entire afternoon of outside enjoyment and the smell of smoked meat over the neighborhood, you can buy accessories for smokers that are fan-driven and adjusted by heat and meat thermometers -- remote controlled from your couch! I'd rather go to the local wings and rib joint than do that!
Specifically, with my unit: It assembled in less than an hour (including beer breaks); find something for the coals to get oxygen (read other reviews/suggestions); don't drill holes in the bottom pan -- place it under your newly fabricated/purchased fire grate for EZ clean-up; ramping down heat was easier than ramping up (350 down to 225); use water, juice, sand, peppers, whatever, in the water pan -- but use something in the water pan for consistent temperature control; use direct heat (without the pan) for grilling, or not. My unit holds 225 degrees consistently for hours.
My unit produced great results from the start -- but I made the adjustments necessary prior to firing it up. I've done catfish and trout (bacon/lemon wrapped in foil -- or not); unbelievable moist chicken (rubbed and unrubbed) crispy and not; pork shoulder (stuffed with garlic and s/p rub); mustard rubbed ribs (pork and beef); and plan on playing with it more -- peppers and veggies are next.
I hope this helps -- if you return this unit (as others have said they did), you'll be missing out on some great food and great fun.