These are all excellent questions and you are to be commended for bringing them up. Kudos to you for not trying to wade through all the crap that other people have wasted their time writing, so that you don't have to waste yours in doing silly things like searching or reading sticky threads.
Fortunately, not to worry. You can root. Use that one ROM, it's very glitzy and very cool looking. Also don't download the sucky apps. Stick to the good ones.
P.S. We may not define glitzy or cool or sucky or good the same way, so I didn't list specific ones, but I'm sure since you said you did all that research you already have a pretty good idea¡