REB1200 for Dummies

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Info about REB1100 and GEB1150

Updated 4/20/06

Using Personal Content: A Guide for Abandoned Gemstar Customers.

RCA REB 1100

Overview and Introduction: This document is intended to aid users who are stuck with an ebook device they love, but with no official source for new ebook content. Some of the information (especially for Rocket eBook owners) can also be found in other areas of this FAQ. This document is provided as a quick overview of the main issues involved in reading personal content on the Gemstar platform.

Rocket eBook and Rocket eBook Pro.  The original method of loading content on these devices was to purchase ebooks from Barnes & Noble (originally),, or eventually from the Gemstar eBookstore. Since Gemstar has given up the goose, this is no longer an option.

Loading Personal Content:
The Rocket eBook allows a file (with a file extension of .rb) to be loaded by using a serial cable or the infrared port and the RocketLibrarian/RocketWriter software. To do so:

    1. Import the .rb file into your library on your desktop computer
    2. Send it to the REB. Both Windows and Mac versions of RocketLibrarian were released, but the Mac version is much more limited than the Windows version. The Windows version can be used on a Mac by installing VirtualPC.
    3. RocketLibrarian/RocketWriter also has the ability download URLs from the Web and convert them to .rb files. One place to download this software is ; another is . These links seem to be down. Local copy: RocketLibrarian (v.1.3.222 by NuvoMedia) [3.94MB]
      Rocket Librarian (v.1.3.222 by NuvoMedia) converts HTML and TXT I files to RB format. It is the last version of e-book software that has RocketWriter and allows conversions.

      RocketLibrarian/RocketWriter can only convert .txt and .html files. No other formats are supported. Other formats may be converted and read. However, they must first be converted to HTML or text. In the menu bar go to Title, Import File using RocketWriter.

RCA REB1100. The original method of loading purchased content was to purchase online from Gemstar or, download from your online bookshelf to desktop computer using eBook Librarian, then send the file to the REB using a USB port and cable. The alternative method was to purchase and download directly from your online bookshelf directly using your device and its built-in modem. REB1100 Users Guide [219KB PDF] Here is a local copy of the REB1100 install CD you can download [4.8MB].

REBhack the last of the rebhack programs, this one is suitably modified to work magic with 2.0.305

More about loading content:
The REB 1100 allows a .rb file to loaded in a similar way but using a USB cable and the eBook Librarian software. (Note: the USB cable is nonstandard--it is the same cable used for many digital cameras and can often be found in camera stores.) eBook Librarian is a Windows program but can be run on a Mac using VirtualPC. RocketLibrarian can be used to import URLs and convert them to .rb files which can then be downloaded to the 1100 using eBook Librarian. If you encounter difficulties, you need to re-install the REB 1100 USB device driver. It should be on the CD you received with your 1100.

Some people also remove the SmartMedia card, put it in a card reader attached to their PC, and transfer .rb files to it that way. USB SmartMedia card readers are available for both Mac and PC. They go for about $25 to $35 and are available at camera stores that sell materials for digital camers, and also on eBay. MAKE SURE YOU GET A DEVICE THAT IS READABLE AND WRITABLE - not all of them are! If you plan to store eBooks on more than one SmartMedia card and swap cards in and out of the REB 1100, as some purchasers do, it is important to remove a card when the unit is off and never put in a card when the unit is on. Be sure to follow this procedure:

--Turn 1100 off, remove card, turn 1100 on (so it detect that the card is gone), turn 1100 off, put new card in, turn 1100 on.

This procedure is reported to prevent a frustrating hardware freeze-up known as the "grid screen of death," which has been reported by some users. If you just turn off the 1100, remove the SmartMedia card, add content to it, and reinsert the card without powering the unit on and off in between, the 1100 will notice that the card is not the same as it remembers and give you a message that it is damaged.

If you have a SmartMedia Card reader/writer and wish to back up your purchased content, you can install a SmartMedia card in your 1100 and then download your Gemstar-stored content onto it via the modem connection. Then follow these steps:

  1. Turn off your ebook and take out the SmartMedia card. Once the card is out, turn the ebook back on, and then turn it off.
  2. Put the memory card in the reader/writer. You should see a folder called "books" on it. Copy the contents of that folder to your hard drive.
  3. If you have any content you'd like to add, make sure it had been converted into .rb format with RocketWriter, and then copy it into the "books" folder of your card.
  4. Place the card back in your device and turn it on. It should take it a bit to load the titles.

It is reported that the REB 1100 can use 128MB SmartMedia cards, but that a maximum of 200 titles can be stored on a single card.

Most formats can be converted to the .rb format on the 1100 (Microsoft Reader, Palm Reader, or Adobe Reader formats).

REB 1100 Power Adapter

The REB1100 power adapter is 12 VDC 1000mA, The connector is a barrel type (2.35mm Outside Diameter 0.7mm Inner Diameter) with the center positive. At Radio Shack, this connector tip is the "A" tip.

Troubleshooting Tips:

If your 1100 won't turn on, try plugging it in to see if the battery's charge is exhausted. If that doesn't work, look under the rubber flap on the back of the unit and you will see a small hole with reset next to it. Just take a paper clip and push it into the hole, this will push a switch that resets the unit. Now try to turn it on. This may correct the problem.

For certain kinds of problems, you may need to erase the internal memory of the 1100 entirely. Use this procedure only if absolutely necessary! It will nuke your internal serial number and make any encrypted content inaccessible. Only personal content from then on.

Erase Internal Memory

  1. Go to settings
  2. Select modem
  3. Select advanced
  4. Put a check mark in Use custom isp box
  5. in the ISP Password box type (wash me.) without the parentheses
  6. Then select done and it should wipe the book.

The dread "grid screen"

> Having a problem with a reb1100. The unit had worked fine
> until today. I put 2 books on it earlier today, and it started acting
> up. As soon as the second book finished downloading, it rebooted
> itself several times and shut down. I was unable to turn it back on
> for about an hour. Now when I turn it on, the screen turns dark and
> displays a grid pattern. I have no access to any of the content. I've
> tried the reset button on the bottom a couple of times, but it hasn't
> cleared up the problem. Anyone have any ideas?

This is the dread "grid screen". Usually it's related to inserting or removing memory cards without doing the "turn it off, remove the card, turn it on, let it boot completely, turn it off again" process. Your best bet is to see if you can still get in on the Gemstar $30.00 replacement program.

If you're down to your last, desperate hope, you might try the Erase Internal Memory fix (above).


GEB 1150: [revised 7/10/03]

Original method of loading purchased content: Purchase online from Gemstar or, download from online bookshelf directly to 1150 using built-in modem.

More about loading content:
The GEB 1150 allows "personal content." A grayscale .imp file can be uploaded to the user's Gemstar online bookshelf, then downloaded to the device by connecting to it via modem. The USB port can also be used to download content once it's been converted through the personal content servers. The Gemstar personal online bookshelf servers may or may not go away July 16, 2006.

The GebLibrarian software available at can also be used to load grayscale .imp files such as those generated by Gemstar eBook Publisher 2.1 onto the GEB 1150. This application works via the USB driver and "impersonates" the Gemstar servers, enabling you to manage personal content stored on your PC.

It is also possible to use the SmartMedia card reader technique to transfer content to the 1150 [but do not format the card except in the 1150?]. You will need to expand the .imp file to .RES directory and copy to the SOFTBKS directory of a SmartMedia card. Your GEB 1150 will also need to support unencrypted content. Version 3.2 of the viewer software has been reported to support unencrypted content. USB SmartMedia card readers are available for both Mac and PC. It is reported that the GEB 1150 can use 128MB and larger SmartMedia cards without problems.

If you use the USB method, make sure you have the latest USB driver : (site seems to be down)

While both the REB 1200 and REB 1150 use the .imp file format, since the REB 1150 has a smaller screen .imp files for the REB1200 will not work. There is a version of Softbook Publisher called Gemstar eBook Publisher 2.1 that creates .imp files for the REB 1150. See the information below about loading .imp files onto an REB.

ebookwise 1150 & Filament Books ETI-2

First look on the back of the book. It should have a model#, if it says ETI 2 it's an eBookwise 1150. If it says REB1100 it's a Gemstar 1100. To tell if it's a Gemstar REB1100 that has been upgraded to a eBookwise 1150 you need to turn it on.
If it has a bookshelf at the top of the screen or when you tap the stack of books in the lower right corner its a 1150.

If the original books were from Gemstar for a 1100 they likely will not work on a 1150 as they would be encripted to that 1100 device.

eBookwise-1150 eBook Reading Device

(a re-branded GEB 1150 device) for $99.95, which includes a $20 content bonus. Learn more . (Has Firmware 4.0 )

Filament books offers the device for free - with $199 book subscription

"Migrated" devices

eBookwise is currently working on a process to "migrate" legacy Gemstar devices such as the Reb 1150, Reb 2150, and Geb 1200 so that they may receive premium content from the server. Migration is a firmware upgrade to these devices that allows it to take content from our servers rather than the Gemstar eBook servers (which no longer sell content). Some older devices, such as the Rocket eBook and Reb 1100, cannot be migrated because it is not possible to upgrade their firmware without a hardware modification.

The migration upgrade process is currently being implemented, and is not yet available, but we expect it to be in place soon. We will provide more details on how to migrate your legacy devices when details are known.

For now, only eBookwise-1150 devices may receive premium content from eBookwise.

info on tools for use with ebookwise 1150

More on REB 1100, etc.

Generally speaking, the REB1100 is a little more robust, so will withstand the hard handling of a traveller a bit better. I have several of each, and find the 1100 travels with me, while the 1200 stays beside my bed at home.

One drawback is that the 1100 uses Smart Media cards for additional storage (and you do want additional storage - 64 MB cards are about optimum), and despite what people might say they are out of production. You will have to pick some up from eBay or sources that still have them in stock. A 64 MB card will easily hold the 200 books that seem to be the top limit for a REB1100 card, unless each book is huge. BE VERY CAREFUL about removing and replacing cards - people get seized up all the time. Read past discussions on this group about how not to do it.

Another problem is that you can't readily replace the battery on the 1100 (you have to take it apart), so eventually that will become an issue. The REB1200 battery is a unique size and shape, but is easily replaced.

GEB Librarian will convert open formats to the RB format the REB1100 uses. You can also find free tools at

You can still buy books in RB format at, and probably at other sites as well. You can get a zillion (well, 15,000 at last count) free public domain books in RB format at, though I prefer to download their zipped html format and convert my own - for some reason they are prettier if I do it myself.

If you do buy an 1100, you will want to make sure it has the latest firmware by dialing in to GEMStar and getting the download. If you buy a 1200, there is no particular advantage to upgrading the firmware.

From the sounds of the conversations on this group, don't get a REB1150 - it doesn't have as many options as the 1100.


REB1100 Technology

Recently I bought ebook reading device called REB1100 ( It is built on ARM720T microprocessor, has 64Kb of Atmel 27LV512 EPROM with romfs, 8Mb of NAND flash, Cirrus Logic EP7212 chip with LCD controller and audio. Also it has modem, SMC interface, IR interface and... cool rubber surface :) Now the question. Is it somehow possible to install [arm/uc]linux there?

I study related materials on armlinx website, on, ucdot and some others but yet can't realize where to start.

Here are results of my "investigations". First, this CPU has MMU so I can't decide what do I need: uClinux or ARM linux :) [What was confused me - uClinux is for non-MMU machines, but there are patches for ARM7DMI CPU]

When REB1100 starts it executes code from EPROM. The program there implementing simple filesystem, has USB driver and some logic which allow it to install and run 'firmware' (OS, Reader): it is possible to do all this in special DEBUG mode with a tool called "rebhack".

Lets call it BIOS. The firmware is on NAND Flash. As I understand, BIOS do some checks and then runs [or not runs if checks are failed] the OS. Firmware has extension .rff and is compressed. It has 512 bytes header which contains some control and descriptive fields, among them there is Execution Address. It points to exactly 1Mb. I hope it is possible to install Linux onto NAND Flash without changing EPROM. I believe, to do that, it is enough to make special .rff which contains boot loader. I have images of OS and BIOS but can't find disassembler for ARM7 CPU (can you recommend one? Is there a modification of objdump for ARM?)

REB1100 LINUX Utilities

If you're using Linux, try this utility:
rebcomm.<> The author has just upgraded it to work with the later 2.6 kernels.

More REB1100 Utilities

The Russians appear to be the only people hacking away at the REB1100. Wish I spoke Russian, I suspect that there's a lot of good stuff going on. Here's a link to the 2.0.305 firmware. <> I am not sure how to install a .rff file, but I suspect you'll need rebhack (which contains rebtalk.)<>

You should look at this page (in Russian, but most of the utils are in
english.) <>

Everything, almost, that I know about for the REB1100 can be found there.
Certainly everything for Windows is there.

REB1100 Smart Cards

You can load direct to a memory card using a card reader. If your files are in the .rb format just drop the file on the card reader like you would load a file to a floppy disk. You need a SmartMedia card reader if your using the REB1100.

I have had good luck with SimpleTech cards and I hear Lexar are very good but have not used them. Cost should be about 40-50 cents per MB for good quality. I would stay with no larger then 32MB cards as the REB1100 seems to have a problem with over 200 ebooks and/or 40MB of info so 32mb is fine for staying in that range. You can set cards up by subject and switch them out. I was able to get some 64MB cards for less then the 32's so I got them but will only use 30 to 40 MB.

You also can inport files to the eBook Librarian and then right click on the file and select copy to external memory on the ebook. I think the Baen books will load directly to the librarian.

Ebooklibrarian, should have come on the cd with the unit, if not you can
get at the Rocket site below. A very good librarian, as already posted is the eBookwiseLibrarian or the GEBlibrarian (

Switching smartmedia cards

Turn REB1100 off, remove card, turn REB on, turn REB off, insert card, turn REB on. It was somthing about the REB reseting itself with the card out before puting it back in.
Also do not bend the card as this can damage it.

A good handle can be made by using a strip of Scotch tape, make it about 2" long and stick 1/2" to one side of the card and then fold it over so you can stick 1/2" to the other side. This should give you a 1/2" flap to grab to pull the card stright out.

REB1100 Sites

The following list is old but most of the sites are still up.

REB1100 EBOOK sources (PDF and LIT only) (PDF/LIT/PDB only)