yes. newsrack downloads images and articles in the background. you can control in the settings how much it will download in the background and cache as well.
newsrack was pretty popular on the iphone, one of the bonuses of it being universal is you automatically have an ipad version if you previously used it. it's hard to come out with a free/trial version of a rssreader, unless they limit it to the number of feeds or articles, or plaster it with ads. i agree, if you don't have any rss reader the choices and decision to pick one can be overwhelming because there aren't really any demos. why reviews like mine and athlonkmf's on MobileRSS HD
might come in useful.