you know something, this email was a lot like my first few here. I researched like crazy looking for the right Q to get going. I really think you need to decide what type of cooking you plan on.
If it were me starting over again, I would get a weber OTG to start. learn the basics i.e.. fire control, direct and indirect, smoking etc. But that is just me.
Also, take into account that a smoker has a very specific function. If you buy a quality smoker and dont want to just smoke then you will need another Q for the other functions. Again, the OTG will really do a lot for you and it will be your go to.
For me starting out I should have asked myself what kind of cooking do I want to do?
If it is just smoking then I would say jump into a smoker. If you want to grill, smoke, indirect cook etc... then you need to look at alternative cookers. For me, had I known this answer, I may not have jumped right into a WSM. I wound up selling my smoker last week because it wasnt the right tool for me. I want something that does it all. For now my weber OTG will do the trick, but I am saving for a kamado Joe, the most versatile cooker in my opinion for the guys that wants all in one.
I was lucky that I didnt lose my shirt on selling my WSM, but for me, I am more of a griller and the odd smoker. So I really couldnt justify the WSM. My OTG is getting crazy use as I love grilling and cooking indirect. I did and excellent rack of ribs on them the other day and I find that it is way more versatile than the single purpose of a WSM smoker.
Anyways, just my opinion. Really know what you want to do before you invest. I can not wait to get my Kamado Joe. But it was trial by error for me, and I had to dive in to realize what I wanted. I would have never known had I not purchased the WSM.
WSM 22.5 Black, OTG 22.5 Black, Napoleon Prestige Pro Gas, Maverick ET-732