Dave, I hope you arent going to get me into another argument over the value of 16/44.1 vs so-called hi-rez for folk with average hearing. For me, 16/44,1 is just fine as long as EAC tells me there were no problems with the rip - I still like to be able to store the CDs. Whether I can actually hear the difference between redbook and LAME VBR for a lot of modern pop is less important to me than knowing I have the WAV files - you cant recreate all of that PCM goodness from a download.
I'm not entirely convinced about 16 vs 24 one way or the other. Do we need the dynamic range of high-res? No. 96dB of dynamic range is about 90dB more than is used in the typical recording released in 2012. Where I'm less convinced is the 44.1Khz part. This is the "good enough" part, where it was decided that 22Khz was high enough, and that 44,100 snapshots of the analog waveform was enough. I'm not convinced that it is. There's also the issue of filtering. Linear phase, minimum phase, apodising filters etc are all a series of compromises. If you fix pre-ringing you get more post-ringing. With high-res that's less of an issue, and it may be worth it for that alone.
You can't recreate the PCM goodness from an MP3 download yes. I would never pay anyone to download MP3s. Paying for flaws, and files that are instantly worthless literally the second you pay for them just makes no sense to me. You CAN recreate the PCM goodness from a FLAC download though, which cuts your 700mb download down to about 350mb. FLAC is no different from a .zip file. Everything is still there, just in a compressed container. Uncompress the FLAC file back into WAV, and you've got 100% of that PCM goodness, hence the "lossless" part.