Modern Chicago Cutlery is crap, and not worth the effort it takes to sharpen them. If you want to keep them, get yourself a cheap carbide sharpener like an AccuSharp and use that instead of your Edge Pro (but only for cheap knives you don't mind destroying).
The plastic handled, blister packed Dexters are better than Chicago Cutlery, but I'd say (just one man's opinion, mind you) that the Forschner by Victorinox Fibrox and Rosewood lines are hugely better and will take a much better edge than a Dexter and hold it much longer. Well worth the extra $10.
With knives, especially at the lower end, you get what you pay for. The Fibrox/Rosewood are a lot of bang for the buck, but more "adequate" than actually "good." If you're looking for something relatively thin and light in the modern style, your best choices are probably the Fujiwara FKM, Richmond Artifex and Tojiro DP. If, on the other hand, you're looking for something heavier, thicker, and with more "belly," you're looking at other brands. Which style and brand is best for you depends more on you than the knife.
For a 10" knife, "adequate" is under $40; while "good" is pretty close to $100.
Steeling (done correctly -- and it's seldom done correctly) fulfills a different purpose than sharpening. Edges get deformed during use, by impact. Steeling -- done correctly with an appropriate steel -- "trues" (aka "realigns") the edge. If the steel has a LITTLE BIT of texture it can also scuff the edge and create micro-serration which make the knife act sharper for a while; thereby keeping it off the stones (or Edge Pro) for a little longer than it might otherwise go. That not only tends to lengthen the useful life of the edge but the useful life of the knife.
Sharpening, on the other hand, means removing metal from the knife in order to create a fine, fresh metal edge.
If you're going to use soft, tough knives you should steel often BUT sharpen occasionally.
17* is fine for some knives, not good for others. It depends on the knives and how they're put to use. There are a few hard and fast rules, but without knowing more about your knives and how you use them, I can't give advice.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 2/9/13 at 9:01am