Before I begin let me say I still think Shannon is a punk and that "Best" is a totally lame brand name. That said - these guys really do seem to be getting it right.
I live in Asia, I buy and sell lots of used gear. I am a long time Rhino flyer - 2003 flew 18/14/10 R2's and in 2004 am flying 20/14/10 R4's.
I had a vacation planned to Jamaica the 21st-28th of Feb. I didn't want to hual all my gear (I never do) on the trip so i was looking to pick up some used gear in route or in Jamaica that I could sell after I used it without loosing any more than I would have to pay the airline to ship my bag - about $120 each way for bag that holds 2 boards and 4 kites plus bars harnesses etc.
Following the Best hype on this site - I noticed Best had a deal for Shannon's Quiver - was basically a 18/14/10 quiver of Nemi's that were pre-owned suppossedly by shannon - priced at around 500 each.
I submitted online order on the 18th and kites were delivered to a Miami hotel where I had a stopover for one night in route to Jamaica on the 20th.
I got several follow-up calls and email confirming the order and its shipment. Gotta say service was amazing. I think I even received a voicemail from that punk Shannon.
In Jamaica had great winds most of the week and an opportunity spend lots of time on both the 14 and the 18.
Here are some observations (using JP130, North 2004 stock bars, 27m lines, Prolimit Felix Harness):
Depower - R4's have much greater range.
Turning Speed - in the 14m size kites turn with similar speed - in 18m size R4 seems faster - but only slightly
Jumping - Nemi seemed to allow more room for timing errors than the R4's . R4 landings seem to be softer - particularly in the 18m size.
Low End Power - Nemi semmed to have more
High End Power - Definitely the R4
Upwind - Equivalent
Stability - Equivalent in the 14 - in the 18m size the nemi was equivant when in neutral - but felt a little less stable than the R4 when in flight - particulaly in speedy transistions when full powered agaist a strong edge.
Valves - R4's two vales for all struts make inlfating a breeze. also R4's 4 leading edge strus are nice feature when delfating and rolling end to end.
Struts - R4's solid struts are bulky and heavy compred to inflated design used by Best
Aspect ratio - seemed similar as did kite cut - Nemi's might be slightly higher aspect.
Leading Edge - Nemi has a much slimer leading edge bladder - don;t really know if this is good or bad.
Durability - hard to say as all are still new - but the North's feel and are physically heavier than the Nemi's
Signature - Shannon signed these kites on the batten tips- on one kite including a message about being my daddy or some shit. Easlily remidied with some alchol and a rag.
If you can get North kites for same or lower price - go with the r4 - if not gotta say that the differences are not significant enough to warrant paying much of a premium.