For myself, palette has moved towards "lighter roasts". Not third wave super light brown on the beans type of roast, but what most people would term medium, maybe slightly dark. Pete's and Starbucks normal blends really do blast the beans in their roasting process. It creates a ashy burnt type of taste with a lot of boldness. Nothing wrong with that, taste is personal. It's become subjective in what I consider dark roast.
One of my personal favorites I found during my coffee obsession phase, less so now than before, was Espresso Vivace's Dolce blend. It's definitely not a bright blend, but its very enjoyable. I'll let the website do the talking for the taste notes.
I'm definitely a fan of "lighter roasts", so to speak as wel. I just find it so amazing to be able to taste a huge spectrum of flavour profiles of coffee beans, that some people forget come from a cherry. I can't drink Starbucks anymore because even their Blonde Roast tastes too roasty for me, but taste is subjective right; I went for coffee with a friend at one my favourite local roasteries awhile back, had an amazing Yirgacheffe via V-60, and he hated it. The trend towards higher acidity cups isn't for everyone...
Read a great article recently in Barista Mag about the resurgence of blends, but done with a more Third Wave approach to sourcing. Highly recommend it, Born Again Blend by Erin Meister, interviewing the head roaster from Equator Coffee, in the April/May 2013 issue.
Most round burr grinders can only be optimized for a small range of grind sizes. The grinders from Baratza are like this until you get the flat burrs in their higher-end models.
I think at the level of the grind we're talking about (they're not whirly blades), the differences the OE mod will make to a Hario is not the most important factor. I've modified my own Hario by wrapping tape around the central shaft where the burr sits so it wobbles a bit less, but I'm not sure it's made any difference in the cup. I also have a Porlex, but I've never used it, because it has the same burrs as the Hario and they are held the same way as the Hario. It's basically a smaller Hario mini with a steel body --- it's good for travel as it fits inside an Aeropress easily.
I've been thinking about getting a Porlex just because I've started to become dissatisfied with the grind consistency, but I looked at one in store, and it's just like you said A Y, same burrs and construction, just in a different casing. Honestly just thinking about buying a Baratza, Virtuoso most likely, and keeping the Skerton for camping and travel, although if that OE mod works for finer settings I would definitely order that.