Well, I suppose I must first admit that I just received my titanium Esbit wing stove, Ti foil windscreen, and a box of Esbit tablets from BPL - so it looks like I'll be giving them another try, just because I have no will power! (There's also the fact that stove, pot, and fuel for 6 days only weighs about 8 - 10 ounces.)
As far as smell: I don't recall any particular odor when it was burning and I was merely sitting beside it (my face a couple feet away - the same safe distance as I would any other lit stove.) Having heard that comment before, I do vaguely remember once leaning close to it, but can't remember if I got any particularly noticeable odor.
I do, however, notice a fairly noticeable ammonia odor from the box of 12 tablets. It's not overpowering, but it is noticeable enough that I put the box, stove, and windscreen into a ziploc bag. That blocked the odor (though I still get a sniff when I open the bag.)
This is all very minor, and not a problem in the field.