Dude, pick the one that you feel sounds best to your ears. Guitar tone is subjective and at starter guitar prices, you can't be looking at pro quality tone.
Pick the guitar thats closest to what your guitar idols play. Because the use of a beginner level guitar is to simply inspire you to play like your idol. Its a psychological thing. So if you think its sound is the best for you, then it is. The hard investment in a guitar is not the model you buy but the time you are going to spend on it everyday.
As far as a strat being out-dated or having poor looks, that is totally personal opinion. If the strat was outdated, I don't think guys like Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen and Eric Clapton would continue to use them. They would all be using BC Rich pointy guitars or the Steinberger headless guitars.
-- My current rig
Guitar: '98 MIJ Ibanez RG520 QS w EMG 81/60
Amp: Laney LC15R Tube, Fernandes 20W SS
Pedals: MI Audio Tube Zone Overdrive, Boss OD3, CS3, MT2, HM2, DS2, CE5, DD7, TU3, Beta Aivin DD2 Delay, Dunlop Crybaby 95Q, Stranger Vol Pedal, BBE SupaCharger
Others: Yamaha RBX 374 Bass, Yamaha MM-6 Synth, M-Audio Fast Track, Shure SM-57, Heet Sound E-Bow Plus
Wanted(pm if selling): EB VPJr/Boss FV500L,Ibanez w Original/Lo-Pro Edge