All right guys let me set the whole story,

I'va started playing the guitar in France 8 months ago on a Fender CD60, then moved to the US and bought an Ibanez AEL20... Now I'm looking for a semi hollow body, I want to take advantage of the cheap prices here in the US and the thanksgiving sales...
So I've gone to a guitar center and tried an Epi Dot Studio and an Ibanez AS73B, I liked them both although the conditions were really poor with a lot of people playing around... Both are $300 and have good reviews, but I don't know anything in guitar gear (pickups, humbuckers...) so I'd like to have some advice, is one of them better in quality? Etc...
Another small question: if you have to advice a debut/practice amp, let's say $100-150, which would it be?
Thanks for all answers, I'm posting this because I'm a little lost, I already searched for similar threads but could not find any:/
Hm the Ibanez AFS75 also looks nice, for only $50 more...
Anyone? An opinion?