I was thinking of buying a new guitar, and I'm looking for something with a nice clean channel, a trem, and in the $500 price range.

I've been looking at this

and it plays pretty well, but i want to consider other things first. I've been getting into the blues, so I was thinking maybe a strat... but the only problem would be that i don't know where I could try one, because my local place doesn't carry them.

So my question is what kind of Strats would work for me? Which ones should I avoid, if anything? And what other brands should I look at?

I think a normal MIM Standard Strat or a Players strat if u have the extra cash. Id definately take a Strat over that Ibanez.
Since when did guitars come with Channels :O Can you buy a guitar with a clean channel, 80´s metal channel and ultra high gain metal channel?
Nahh just kidding, i would check for something with single coils, maybe a HSS MIM strat? then you have a humbucker if you are going to play something heavier and the single coils for the clean stuff
Ibanez RG2550E
Fender FM212R amp
EHX Metal Muff
Ibanez WP-7 Wah