Re: Hookah diversity as a deciding factor....
First of all, the characteristics that wbluedoor ask about have a lot to do with the hose used, what sort of bowl is used and how it is set up rather then some basic attribute of a style of narghile. The best narghile in the world will give a session if you have a poor hose, bowl or fail to manage your coals properly.
Basically, what matters with a narghile is the size, material and quality of workmanship and design.
Unfortunately, a design that allows the free flow of the smoke and makes cleaning less of a pain is very much an art that only the craftsman that make narghiles understand. Still, what I have learned Iíll share.
In terms of size small rigs (under 22") produce hotter smoke and more CO and are inferior to larger rigs as a result. Narghiles over 40" tend to be very cool but are a hard draw and, as a result, are not a good choice. I have found that rigs in the 30" to 36" range are the best but I have gotten very good results (if not the best) from ones as small as 26". While itís true that lots of people like smaller rigs anyone that Iíve know that tried both prefer the full sized ones.
When it comes to buying a narghile forget about trying to save money and consider what you buy in terms it lasting a great many years and remember that you will spend far more on coals and tobacco in single year then what 95% of the rigs available cost. Look for quality and forget about brand names and hype. The truth is that you can forget getting a well made narghile that youíd want to use each day for less then about $70 and youíd be better to think in terms of spending $100 or more.
The single best indicator of a narghile is the weight of the stem and the Chinese made stuff is thin walled, stainless steel at best or copper and aluminum at worst. What you want in a stem is thick, solid brass in the down stem, heart (the central part above the vase) and within the stem above the heart. Very thick stainless steel throughout is the next best option. If a brass cored stem is used stainless steel should be folded over and welded on top end to prevent water from getting between the brass and steel.
In terms of hoses what you want is a good, washable hose so donít wind up inhaling mold and bits of dust. The best hose by far is the Nammor but I hear that J & Rís Custom Washable Hose, Al Fakherís Healthy hose and the Washable Hose from Hookah-Shisha.com are all good alternatives.
In terms bases forget about Pyrex or anything that screw on and get good quality glass. Good glass has no bubbles or striations in it and is very thick. For get about the decorations as the very exotic looking glass is often poorly tempered and will break. You also want a base with a very wide bottom because a lot of bases will not keep your rig stable which is super important.
As to bowls buy a small Tangiers funnel and a scalli mod. Nothing else comes close in terms of giving a quality session and getting the most out of your shisha.
As to the various styles Iíd say avoid anything made in China. Partly itís because you really shouldnít spend your money to support slavery and communism but also because Chinese rigs have crappy quality. Mya is a company that I have had nothing but problems with and Iíve used a lot of them and known a ton of people that have bought them. The glass breaks all the time and the Pyrex tends to not thread well after a year or so and often tears up your hand when it shatter taking it on or off. The down stems tend to corrode and be crooked while the rest of the stem is just poorly made. The hoses are supposed to be washable arenít. Avoid Mya.
The so called mod style hookahs are basically just Chinese made stuff with modern, non-traditional styling and bright colors. Often they look dramatic but have poor quality.
Egyptian stuff is a bit tricky. Some Egyptian stuff is made and has lots of cosmetic defects but works great and is surprisingly cheap and a great value. The problem is that with a lot of Egyptian stuff you donít know how good it will work until youíve had it for a year or more which makes buying most Egyptian stuff a crap shoot.
What you can be sure of is that the best of what Egypt has to offer is excellent. Anything made by Khalil Mamoun or El Ashrey is excellent and I hear that Magdy Zidan is pretty good but Iíve no personal experience with them.
Iranian and Lebanese stuff is usually had made and of very high quality but is very hard to find so I wonít say much about it here.
Syrian stuff usually has lots of machined brass and is exceedingly well built and rugged. I canít say Iíve heard of anyone buying a Syrian narghile and thinking it was anything less then above average and usually youíll hear far better.
The bottom line is that Iíd recommend a Khalil Mamoun, El Ashrey or Syrian.