EAC is probably one of the best free rippers. dB Poweramp is probably one of the best of the paid rippers and is easier to set up than EAC.
Depending on your ears, what kind of music, what you play your music on, and where you play your music, will probably dictate how you encode.
If you go the way of mp3's, that can be any where from 120-320. mp3's are better for a portable player, as they take up less space. But for certain kinds of music mp3 can chop out or muddle sounds that should be crisp like a high hat.
If you go the way of FLAC's, the sound is preserved and it takes up approximately 1/2 the space of a WAV at the highest compression setting, V8[It's like the musical equivalent of a zip file]. FLAC's are nice for archiving as previously mentioned. And since they are lossless, if another format becomes popular you can use a transcoder to change the file to something else that you want. One of the downsides, and its less of one now than 8 years ago when I started using it, is that FLAC files are big, so your average FLAC album will range between 120-600Mb, depending on the length and mono vs. stereo recording. Another downside is that not all media players used to support FLAC playback natively. I know you could with iTunes, but you had to use a 3rd party plugin. WMP used to be a no go. But I know Foobar and Media Monkey both support it, and I think you can with WinAmp as well. Another disadvantage is that not too many portable devices support FLAC. That can be circumvented by putting Rockbox on your portable device. Or like on my phone, getting a media player that will play FLAC"s.