Gfree is recommended. Most on here will agree that it is the safest way to S-Off and root.
Virtuous V2 is a good Sense ROM. Its Sense 2, but is stable and fast. Sense 3 ROMs have some cool features and eye candy, but is designed for more RAM than our phone has, so it lags badly. ILWT CM7 is a cool AOSP ROM. And MIUI is good if you are looking for something different from Sense and AOSP (simple and elegant interface).
Battery life is largely dependent on how you use your phone, network reception, and other factors. But I can get close to 2 days with light usage, 3G at work, WiFi at home, Bluetooth on. Widgets don't seem to make a difference in battery life to me. I have 3 pages full of widgets. On the other hand, I've seen my phone drain to almost zero within 8 hours or so, when hiking in the woods in poor reception areas, without using the phone at all.
Last edited by redpoint73; 25th April 2012 at 04:31 PM.