I had a Rock too and decided last year that I'd get a smartphone when someone made a rugged android one. Now I have it. I got my Commando in June and I have not rooted it.
I didn't like the stock keyboard, so I put in Better Keyboard 8 from the market. First the free and then the paid one. Try the free one first. If you like it keep it. The paid version gets you nothing extra of value unless you like "skins". I've since moved to the GO keyboard free. I like that one better than BK8 because the cursor arrows can be added at the bottom (fifth row) to be always visible, and there is a button at the top right to close the keyboard. I just don't get along with this swiping business. The market keyboards also have a mic key that can be used with Voice Search for speech to text.
I didn't like the stock email app because it displays text only. No html. I put in K-9 Mail free and like it very much.
I didn't like the stock browser so after trying Firefox and Dolphin I settled on Opera Mobile. I had Opera Mini on my Rock. I liked it the best because of the start page where 9 of my favorites are there without having to drill down in a bunch of menus.
And then the apps... Google Maps, Google Search, Navigation, ScoreCenter, Lookout, Kindle, WeatherBug, and Angry Birds
So I started with the complaints first, but don't get the impression I don't like the phone. I really like it. It's not as fast as some, nor as thin but it's fit for purpose. Mine hasn't gone swimming yet, but it has taken a few tumbles. Back on Easter weekend my brother had just gotten an iPhone and was irritating me with everything it could do. I tossed my Rock in the pool and asked him "can your iPhone do THAT?"
On the whole I'm very pleased with the Commando. It's not a Corvette, but Corvettes don't climb rocks. As for the bloatware: I moved the 16 gb card from my Rock to this one and put as many apps on the card as I can. I haven't run into space problems. As to the performance drag, the rooters report that it's much faster without all the Vzw trash and I don't doubt that. I'm just not at the point of risking making a brick out of the thing when I'm happy with the current performance.
My big hurdle at the beginning was that I had never seen the Android OS before, so I was learning a new operating system as well as a new device and I burnt up many a battery charge combing through the menus looking for stuff.
If you're coming from a Rock I bet you'll like the Commando.