Unlike Windows, Android comes loaded with some protections to prevent people from fiddling with it. In Windows, you can basically do whatever you want. You can gleefully enter the system folder and deletpe random files. You can install whatever application. You can manually uninstall pieces of hardware. In Android, you have much more limited control. Of course, this is a good thing. Most people shouldn't be fooling around with sensitive system documents. When I worked in tech support, I used to get so tired of people messing up their computers by playing around with files that they didn't understand.
Rooting essentially takes away Android's protections and allows you to do whatever you want with it. Once you've rooted your device, you can edit key system files, install certain applications, and poke around in sensitive folders. The process itself is mostly harmless - if you use z4root, it's pretty much impossible to damage your device - but you can do considerable damage afterwards if you are not careful.
When you have a phone, there's a considerable upside to rooting your device. Most carriers prevent a wide range of features, such as wireless tethering over your 3G network. Rooting gives you access to these things. On the Pocket eDGe, I can understand why some people might not go through the effort to root the device. However, I can see two main advantages: (1) You can uninstall some of the bloatware that comes loaded on the eDGe, like some of those stupid Linux games and (2) you can implement some of the tweaks - such as the sdcard fix - listed on the sticky at the top of this forum.
FYI: rooting is not going to affect the device's performance. All the process does is give you access - without it, you can't modify key system files. That being said, I only think you should root if you have a good reason.
FYI 2: Installing Ermine or the Golden Update IS NOT the same as rooting your device. These are just names of Android installation files. Essentially, loading either of these updates is like installing Windows off a CD. You're basically just restoring your system to standard Android stock. In order to root, you'll need to install and run z4root (rooting on the eDGe is so easy . . . you have no idea how difficult it can be on other devices. Let's not even talk about how long it took with my Wildfire S . . . )
I hope this helps!
Last edited by kennyminot; 01-29-2012 at 12:06 AM.