Take from this what you will, but I've been cooking BBQ/smoking regularly for almost 12 years. I think those pit smokers are a waste of funds. They don't hold more or cook differently enough to tell any difference from a Weber / Brinkman bullet style smoker. You can find the same sized Webers new on sale for under $200 pretty regularly. Brinkmans even cheaper. If you take your time and look on Craigslist, you can find them for well under $100 most of the time being sold by people who tried it once and decided they didn't like drinking beer and cooking all day.
If you're going to spend that kind money, you can get a side offset smoker from Chargril Professional series with cast iron internals for not too much more. They are much easier to maintain temps in, IMHO.
Obviously, get one if you want it. I don't know what you're going to be cooking, or for how many people. One plus side to them is portability for tailgating, etc.
Ditto the offset smoker/cookers! Moving the firebox out of where the meat resides is key for top notch smoking. Heat over meat, including my kamado, work very well...but the offset style work that much better.
I too have been smoking meat for a long time on an offset using wood. You can get about the same flavor from a drum smoker as you can a barrel smoker. I know guys that have won competitions cooking out of a home made barrel smoker which by the way would cost you about $150 to make yourself. I plan on building a barrel cooker just so I don't have to get up at 3am to start the pit for a 15lb brisket packer to be ready for dinner. Both have their place but neither produce great results. Great results comes from experience.
thesmokering.com will give you all the info you'll ever need.
I looked at PBC, but decided it was a little too different and pricey for me. I ended up building a UDS (also a drum smoker) and I'm glad I did.
The UDS is controllable, runs a long time unattended, cheap on fuel, and produces good results. If you aren't real handy with metal, you can source a kit from Big Poppa Smokers that includes barrel or without. I've probably got about $200 in my UDS between hadware and the brand new 16 gauge barrel I bought. Let me know if U need help building one.
I'll probably add an offset or more legit vertical smoker someday, but it's hard to when in getting results from the UDS, plus I only do at most 30lbs at one time.