Whether RAR Reader is too basic or just the right freeware for viewing and extracting RAR archive files depends on the task at hand. Yes -- some free compression tools do everything, and RAR Reader essentially does one thing. But it can do its thing and let you get back to doing yours in less time than it might take to figure out how to set up those "more capable" tools. Even if you already have WinRAR or another RAR-capable tool, it may still be quicker just to download, install, and run RAR Reader.
At some 658 KB, RAR Reader is quite small and installs quickly. The program's no-frills, dialog-size user interface has tabs labeled "Information," with data fields for displaying and editing file metadata and Archive Files, a list view with column headings you can drag to reconfigure. RAR Reader is extremely easy to use: On the "Information" tab, click "Open" and browse to the RAR file you want to view or extract. Edit the metadata, or click "Archive Files" to select a destination folder and extract individual files or batches. RAR Reader extracted our first test file so fast that we had no chance to view a pop-up that we later learned displayed the job's progress.
There's no Help file with RAR Reader. Even a very basic one would be welcome, especially for beginners. Batches of documents take longer, but RAR Reader seems fast enough for most jobs. RAR Reader is fine when you need to unzip some RAR files, but don't have a compatible all-in-one ZIP tool and don't necessarily want one.