I have only used a plastic auto siphon for years. It is simple enough to use, but I have always been concerned about how clean it is. I usually just rinse it off and then siphon all the starsan out of my keg to sanitize it. I dont even get any noticeable off flavors or infection type things from it.
Not to hijack the thread but just to add/ask. How do ya'll clean your auto siphons. Also If you are only using a racking cane and not an auto siphon how do you go about starting it?
To start a non-auto siphon:
I ferment in carboys with a carboy cap which has 2 nipples. The racking cane fits it one nipple, blow in the other nipple to create pressure in the head space and out comes the beer.
Another method is the suck(and swallow, of course) method. You can fit a short piece of tubing in the end of the hose to suck on and to keep your filthy lips off the hose. Just remove the mouth piece when it's started.
You can fill the siphon with water, hold your thumb over the end until everything is in place and let it go.
As far as potential for contamination, the auto siphon has the most parts in contact with the beer and therefore has the greatest potential for contamination and requires the most cleaning. The cane and hose comes in second with only one connection point. But that's easy to take apart and clean. I find it necessary to use a hose clamp to prevent air from getting sucked in at the connection. A simple hose has the least potential for contamination but it's hard to position the end where you want it without attaching it to a stick or something.
I use a ss racking cane. It will last forever. Pair it with a cleaning brush and move on.
Any homebrew vendor should carry one. Don't even know if there is a brand.