Old post, but wanted to see if you found a solution to your smoke issue? I've been considering eggs, pellets, charcoal, and sticks. What you say about the pellet issue is one of the reasons why I'm steering towards something else other than pellet.
Convenience is nice, but the main goal is food flavor. Unless of course it becomes too complex (or expensive) to achieve good food flavor.
From the comments I've read here and elsewhere, seems that stick burning is the flavor gold standard. Buy a quality stick burner, and you'll have the best. Everything else is a compromise between flavor and convenience. At least that's the impression I get from my forum reading.