Thanks again to everyone who helped me out on this one. The pump arrived Monday afternoon and was pretty easy to install. It came with 2 new heavy-duty hoses and I only had to change the one on the suction side since the old one was collapsing under the extra pressure. I was able to leave the old regular-duty hose on the outlet side.
-I got it online for $110 with shipping which is much less than any non-Intex AG pump/filter combo on the market.
-It's noticeably stronger than the Model 635 1500 GPH and improves circulation.
-The vacuum works now so it's actually possible to get the sand and dirt from our beautiful desert landscaping out of the pool.
-It has a 2nd air release valve.
-It has a larger filter that actually gets clean when you hose it off.
-It's much quieter than the 635 which is especially nice after dark.
Less than favorable impressions:
-Construction quality looks the same as the 635.
-Wouldn't run until all air was released, which was extremely difficult to accomplish.
-Runs very hot.
I'm going to try running it on a timer twice a day for 4 hours each time. I'll also keep it shaded. This should save energy, keep the motor cooler and hopefully extend its life.
So overall I'm cautiously optimistic but only time will tell. Hopefully this pump will last longer than a couple more months since the only thing worse than the model 635 pump is Intex's reputation for warranty service.