Shooting in RAW

I recently decided to make an attempt at shooting my photos in RAW. If you just said "huh?", this site provides a very detailed explanation of what this means. But in a nutshell:

"A raw file is essentially the data that the camera's chip recorded along with some additional information tagged on. A JPG file is one that has had the camera apply linear conversion, matrix conversion, white balance, contrast, and saturation, and then has had some level of potentially destructive compression applied."

In other words, you can buy cookies already made at the grocery store. They have probably been sitting there for 2 days and are starting to get a bit stale. OR, you can buy all of the ingredients, take them home, combine the ingredients just as you prefer, and bake them fresh.
There are some downsides to shooting in RAW. Namely, the file sizes are about 4 times larger (at least). It takes a lot more space to store the photos when you've uploaded them, longer to process them, and you can't fit as many on a card when you are shooting. (There is a price to pay for freshly baked cookies—mostly your time).

I decided to do a test to see if I could tell a big difference. Below is a photo I took on a tripod. It isn't a great shot, I confess, but that isn't the point of this test. I shot this image in ƒ/4.5, ISO 400, at 1/40 shutter speed.

There seems to be just a bit more detail in the RAW image (left), and the colors are are subtly warmer.

Next, I overexposed the image.

Then, I opened both in Photoshop Camera RAW and applied the same exposure adjustments.

This is where you can see the most obvious impact. You can recover information more easily if you shot in RAW and your image is overexposed. (Notice the detail in the pot).

Next, I underexposed the image. (Actually, the exposure on the plant is quite good, but the background is really dark).

Again, I opened both images in Camera RAW and lightened them.

Here the difference is more subtle, but you might be able to see that the shadowy areas lightened up with more detail in the RAW version.

I have to admit the jury is still out on whether RAW is the way to go for a hobby photography like me. Maybe another test is in order. Your thoughts?