Got laptop? Can't come into Comdex

Expect cranked-up security at next week's trade show as organizers respond to fears of terrorist attacks. And leave your notebook at home--they're banned.

In an effort to improve security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the organizers of next week's Comdex trade show have banned the most ubiquitous of technology tools: laptop computers.

"This year at Comdex Fall, expect to see more security," states a notice on the Comdex Web site. "Security officers will be roving the conferences and marketplace floor."

In addition, the organizers advise visitors to "please leave bags, briefcases, backpacks, laptops, etc. at home or in your hotel room." People carrying purses and fanny packs must enter through a separate security check.

Attendees will be able to collect literature and freebees in "plastic bags" distributed by vendors, but they will not be able to leave the show floor and return with the bags. A bag check will be available at the convention center.

Comdex, the tech industry's largest annual gathering, runs from Nov. 12-16 in Las Vegas. Key3Media, the show's organizer, expects 150,000 visitors this year, down from some 200,000 last year.

Comdex's precautions cap a rough year for the convention business. Conferences were already suffering from a recession-induced attendance slump when the September terrorist attacks caused many companies to slash their travel plans. Several conferences were canceled, including Apple Computer's Expo, and event organizers at other shows scrambled to offer assurances of security and perks such as free airline tickets to lure reluctant travelers.

In addition to banning laptops and bags from the show, Comdex organizers are instituting even tougher restrictions for the keynote speeches.

"No bags of any kind will be allowed in any of the keynote programs," the site states. "This includes backpacks, laptop bags, shopping bags, briefcases, etc. No cameras will be allowed."

Comdex speakers will include Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers and eBay CEO Meg Whitman.


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