#1
does an acoustic electric sound the same as a regular acoustic guitar

and which one do you prefer

thanks everybody
#2
I really can't tell the difference between the two. Its all about the model too. I prefer acoustic electrics. More useful and worth the little extra $$. Especially if you play on playing at live shows and venues.
#3
Depends on the acoustic electric. Some are just acoustic guitars with a microphone system, some are a bit more complicated and have pickups. I prefer a regular acoustic guitar, but it really depends on your situation and the guitar.
#4
I would prefer to buy an acoustic-electric from the start. First, because it's easier to allow the factory to install the transducers. They do a much better job than could the average guitar owner, and it costs less than half of what a proper retro fit would set you back.

Even in a living room environment, ( most of which are acoustically dead, BTW), an amp can be used to supply reverb and delay, special effects, and a touch of bass boost. This is without destroying your relationships with the neighbors, provided you stick with a 15 watt or less amp, and keep it turned down, to preserve the clean sound that we're looking for out of an acoustic guitar.

Sound is affected much more by factors other than a simple under saddle transducer.

Cutaways, and most of all the materials used in the guitar, (particularly laminates), affect sound a great deal more.

If you're thinking in terms of less expensive instruments, electronics and a small amp can actually make them sound like a higher priced axe.