I'm a big believer in playing my electric solid bodies without plugging them in to see what they sound like, feel like and how the resonate in my hands when strumming a big open chord.
In your example, you really didn't solve anything. There are so many factors there that could have made them sound the way they did....were the strings on both equal? What about the scale of the guitars? Body construction? I mean, if you went into the local store and played every single Mexi-Strat, they'd all sound different. Some better, some worse, depending on your idea of better or worse. The same could be said for any other guitar. Now if that's true for guitars that should be the same, why wouldn't it be the same for a fender mexi-strat, mij strat, american std strat, yamaha strat, epiphone strat copy, etc?
You can definitely find a cheap guitar that sounds cool, whether it's laminated or just plain cheap construction or materials. Look at Danelectro, Airline, Supro, 70s Ibanez and about a million others for examples. But, the real question is, are they going to hold up for your playing. Many cheaper guitars have bridges that won't intonate properly, necks that tend to warp, tuners that don't hold, nuts that aren't cut properly and the list goes on. Not to mention the fact that they're using cheaper woods and questionable contstruction that can tend to break easier.
Finally, resale value. Probably not that big of a deal, but if you're comparing an Aria Les Paul copy to the real deal....well, I think that's fairly obvious.