Sound — 4
The pickups are pretty rubbish. This is a "beginners" model afterall and much like the Squier Strat's they just don't produce exceptional sound. The tones are bland a lifeless and I could only play mine for 10 minutes before I just had to do something about it. Once these a swapped out for something good (I personally put a set of Fender Tex Mex in mine) it really comes to life. The pots are a little substandard but do the job and the 5-way switch is crisp. As stock, I think the pickups are more suitable for clean tones than anything with distortion.
Overall Impression — 7
I do love this guitar. My scores are based on "as is/stock"... Overall its a 7/10 from me. It is what it is; a beginner's Strat that is cheap but doesnt't skimp on the build quality. After upgrading the pickups, tuners and nut mine is easily a 9/10 and would rival any Fender out there. Aria really have made a great guitar here that, when tinkered with, is one of the best value buys out there. If you're looking for a beginner's guitar: I would highly recommend buying this over a Squier. If you're an advanced player: consider this a "shell" when you purchase it. Make the changes I recommended and you'll have an axe I guarantee you'll keep forever.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Out of the box it might be risky gigging with this, but after a tune up and some replacements it's definitely a keeper. The hardware holds up pretty well. The nut will need to be swapped out and maybe a new set of tuners over time but everything looks good. The finish will last a lifetime no worries. Because its a poly finish it will never fade or wear off with general use. I would recommend using some scratch and swirl remover polish on it yearly to make it Shine up again and preserve the finish.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Everything about the action, fit and finish is flawless. Everything came setup from the factory. Under the hood there is a swimming pool route so you can throw in humbuckers, P90s, filtertrons or whatever your heart desires. I do like this feature, it comes "mod-ready". The fret work was perfect (no sharp edges) and it just plays really well. The neck finish is also really nice on the hands. Its not glossy, more of an oil-based finish and it gives it that natural look. The body however has a hard poly finish which combined with the colour range it comes in looks really nice.
Features — 6
For what it comes with it really is an excellent unit. I bought mine as a hotrod/modding platform because its almost identical to a Fender without the price tag. In terms of build quality I would say its just as good as a Fender Strat. In terms of hardware; it definitely falls short. The body I believe is Alder 3-piece, but I think it really depends on the guitar you get with how many pieces it will be. It comes with a Standard Strat control layout; 1 volume, 2 tone and 5-way selector switch. The hardware does not appear to be branded, so I would think just cheap Chinese assembly parts.