It is my 1 year anniversary with the AKorn and it was a purchase I'll never regret. the two things that give it the edge for me is the heavy cast iron grate and the double insulated steel that allows me to cook when its windy and cold without affecting internal temp. in fact, I burn less fuel on my akorn than my gasser.
The only modification i've made to mine was buying a weber replacement grate. I use this to set a water pan, heat deflector or coals when I want to bring fire closer to the meat for searing. Oh, and once it unexpectedly started pouring while I was doing an overnight butt, problem fixed by cutting an empty plastic coffee can with side vents to use as a rain cap.
I left this joker unattended once with both vents open, and it got so hot the cast iron was glowing red and the temp gauge was maxed out, I was sure I screwed up the cooker.
Not so, although I did have to go around and tighten all the bolts afterward.
The only downside to the Akorn i've experienced is cooking surface. It is about the same cooking surface as weber 18" kettle.
I love my Akorn, and will always chime in on these type threads.