Yeah it is totally worth it. Upon planting that middle plant, in the gravel I have to dig so much just to keep it from floating up. In the sand, I just lightly pushed/lightly moved the sand around.
In gravel it took me 2-3 mins to plant that fake plant
In the sand, it took my 5 seconds.
I love the look of sand! Do you need a filter to have sand?
I don't think its necessary to have a filter if you have sand. I have a filter in my sand aquariums, but that is because I think its good to have a filter. You actually have to be careful with some filters and sand. Sometimes, the ones with internal motors can get sand particles stuck in them and shut down. So you have to wait until the sand settles before turning it on. As for initial sand cleaning, just keep rinsing. Rinse that sand in a bucket about 9 or 10 times, take a break, then do it 5 more times and the tank shouldn't get cloudy. I have had three tanks with sand, and find them easier to clean than those with gravel.