I'm picking up this thread (though it seems to have expired) since I'm a bit of a similar mind: last year I bought an Ibanez 7-string guitar from presumably the same series as your 8-string instrument belonged to. My opinion: for that price it was a good bargain, and it allows me to experiment with different tunings. For a start, it allowed me an insight into multistring music (lute) in general, and it led me to buy a 10-string guitar and a Baroque lute as well... So it was well worth. I long to have an 8-string version as well (one extra string!!!) but the advantage is that with only 7 one must absolutely get used to economizing, which is a handy skill. Also, I stumbled on a few different tunings, which are very useful when I play baroque music.
The sound I got is a bit thin for a good classical instrument, but all in all, with all the extra sympathetic resonance of the strings, it's OK, and very suitable for baroque lute pieces. I wish it were a precious "master instrument", which it is not, unfortunately...
All the best,
Attila from Hungary