This guitar will change your life!
A Variax was something I'd wanted for years, and the release of these new Tyler models sent me over the edge. I had high expectations, and this thing really delivers!
First off, the guitar is great without the modeling. The 89 model is an Ibanez-inspired, shredder-type guitar. The magnetic pickups are top-notch, with plenty of output for rock and metal. My guitar (purchased online) came with a great setup out of the box, but I swapped out the strings for my favorites (Elixirs) and set it up for tuning down a half-step (I'll explain why in a minute).
My first gripe is about changing strings. The bridge holds the strings in place when they're all on and tightened, but getting them on is kind of a pain. You have to rest the ball ends in the string slots and then find some way of keeping them in place while you tighten them; I used a capo, but you still have to watch for them to slip out. But that's not a major gripe, as putting on new strings has always been a pain no matter what the guitar.
With everything all set up, the guitar is amazing to play. Feels just as nice as my EBMM John Petrucci model. I kind of miss the tremolo, but not enough to take points off. The frets are nice and big, so you can speed all over the fretboard with minimal effort; and tapping, legato, and pinch harmonics all ring out nice and thick without killing your fingers. I got this model specifically for the extra two frets and familiar knob positioning, but the high-output pups ended up being a godsend.
The thing about the modeling in this guitar is, it's great for everything but the heavy stuff. It's just a limitation of the piezo pickups that palm-muted riffs aren't going to sound as crisp and thunky. So I tend to use the magnetic pickups (which sound great) for anything heavy, and then I have fun with the models when I want to play some blues or funk or what have you. The acoustic models, as others have said, are amazing and worth the price of the guitar all by themselves. The ability to store custom versions with alternate tunings is even more amazing, and you can do that with every model in the guitar.
It has some other nice features, like the "virtual capo" function, which lets you set up an alternate tuning on the fly by fretting a chord, hitting a button, and hey presto, now your open strings sound like the chord you just strummed! Took all of ten seconds to set up an acoustic model tuned for Zeppelin's The Rain Song, something I had never bothered to learn because I didn't want to retune my guitar.
You can also control everything the guitar does via a POD HD, if you have one. You can switch guitar models as a per-patch setting, as well as set knob positions and tunings. Probably my favorite feature of this guitar is the ability it gives me to go from a heavy detuned riff to a spanky clean sound, all with the press of a footswitch. You really should get a POD HD if you have one of these guitars!
I could go on and on about this guitar, but suffice it to say, it's great, and any guitarist would be thrilled to own it. If the few minor caveats aren't too off-putting, don't be afraid to give this thing a try.