For me, it's hard to tell the tone and playability of an acoustic guitar because at guitar stores, all of the acoustics have these incredibly old, grimy strings, and the guitar feels like someone scrubbed it with grounded chalk.

Sometimes, a 700 dollar guitar will sound worse than my 150 dollar laminate guitar, and I know that shouldn't be the case. Do the strings make a lot of difference in terms of playability and tone? How do you usually shop for acoustic guitars?
i use my electric as my acoustic, it keeps things simple
Everybody Loves Lefty..

Lefties Unite!

Melodic Thrash Metal and winners of the Wacken Metal Battle Canada and 2nd Place Runner Ups for Wacken Metal Battle International

I find that generally you get an idea of them even with crusty strings.
However, if I was considering a particular guitar and it had ****e strings, i'd request them to swap them out before i laid my cash down.
on an acoustic strings make a HUGE difference. After 2 weeks of light playing I find my acoustic needs new strings, You loose definition, especially at the low end, it just gets muddy and yuck. Its mroe pronounced with crap guitars as then its a crap guitar with old crap strings, and in this case double negative doesnt equal a positive. They just sound horrible. A good guitar with old strings still has some tone there that will come out no matter the age of the strings.

So you should be able to still figure it out, but as Battery Chicken said, if your gunna lay down some cash, make em change the strings first and test it properly.

I'm lucky, my local shops change strings regularly. The problem I have is when they have different types of strings, now that pisses me off...