if you have a local hookah bar that is close then id go that route. if/when you actually get one, youll probably find yourself not using it much unless you have a group of people to share it with. i have a few and rarely, if ever, use it anymore
I spent about $100 on a setup my senior year of high school and I've used it maybe 15 times. It's spent most of the past 3 years in the back of my closet gathering dust. Although I've been to a few different hookah bars since I got it. I've thought about breaking it out a couple times in the past few months, but IMO it's not worth the mess unless you have a few people wanting to smoke.
Definitely good bang for your buck. Dont buy a cruddy one from the local corner store, they will just rust and fall apart. This one has lasted me years, and even with the one hose works fine for a couple of people. I have broke the base, made a new one, replaced the hose (from rust on the inside) and tried a few different bowls, and the metal piece is still in amazing condition.
- Never put too much shisha in, fluff it, but dont let it hit the foil, if it hits the foil it will burn and taste pretty bad.
- If you get the quick light coals, wait until all the chemical is burnt off before smoking (turns all grey), also dont light it on top of the bowl. The natural coals make a difference, and in the link above he sells a natural quick light that I like a lot (I dont have a gas stove or want to use a torch).
- Pick up a phunnel or vortex bowl from the link above, the flavor is much better.
It takes time to get it right, but its much better and doesnt taste like a college dorm when you figure it out. Those are some of the most important things I think for getting good flavor though.