There are many benefits to having a rooted Android phone, but I still would not recommend it for novice users. Currently, there are still several files to download along with required button presses. This makes it difficult for some people to gain root access on their phone. If you do not read the instructions, you will run into trouble and might need help restoring your phone. However, I am happy to report that work is being done to simplify the process.
JF Updater has been under testing for several weeks but finally reached version 1.0 and was released to the Android Market this weekend. JF is short for JesusFreke, who has been releasing custom builds of the Android operating system. After you download and install the application, it will check the version of your operating system and then check to see if there are any updates. If an update is available, you are directed to a mirror where it will download the file to your SD card. Once the download completes (30-40MB) you can verify the file and apply the update.
Overall the app performs as advertised, but I have a few suggestions. I would like to easily be able to load any version of the OS including previous releases. It would also be nice to see other custom builds offered like the ones from LucidREM or Hetal. Also, it may be my fault but I keep getting an update notifcation after I have updated to the latest version. (This is no way related to updating the OS, but this app makes me want a custom theme installer.)
Currently, there is no auto backup so it is suggested you perform one before applying any update. JesusFreke is hoping to include this feature in a future release of his builds. Once this is implemented, you remove two or the larger obsticles in automating the entire rooting process. What remains to be seen, is an easy method of grabbing the downgrade and gain root access for first time users. A project for that is also in the works, and I think we will see a single solution released in the next few months.
So if you have wanted to root your phone but were nervous about the process, help is on the way. Soon, you will be able to have multi touch, custom boot screens, free WiFi tethering, and more. If you are a root user, please download the app from the market and offer your feedback to the developer.