A quarter of last year's Comdex audience have stayed at home and chosen to miss the technology industry's largest annual gathering.
But the Las Vegas trade show has still attracted some 2000 exhibitors and an estimated 150,000 visitors.
Over the next few days, wireless networking will take centre stage, as major industry players including Cisco Systems and Intel will be demonstrating wireless local area network products using the 802.11a wireless protocol.
While Intel will show prototype Tablet PC devices using its low-power Pentium III-M chips and low-power chipsets, National Semiconductor is expected to showcase a device that merges a Tablet PC with a handheld computer and camera.
Microsoft, which unveiled its Tablet PC at last year's show, will demonstrate the pen-based device, expected to include wireless networking capabilities.
Laptops, mobile phones, PDAs and wearable computers will also be in abundance, along with short-distance technologies, such as WiFi and rival Bluetooth.
Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications and MobileAria will announce a strategic partnership in which MobileAria will support and market Sony Ericsson's Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones with the company's True Hands Free productivity service, which will launch by the end of the year.
TDK Systems will highlight four Bluetooth plug-in and clip-on devices designed to fit PCMCIA slots of notebook and laptop computers.
The British Government, along with more than 34 universities and technology companies that include Oxford and Cambridge, Invest-UK and Trade Partners UK, will exhibit wireless, telecommunications, B2B software, speech recognition and internet security, at the British Pavilion.
While some vendors, such as Dell Computer, IBM and Gateway, have opted not to have a booth on the show floor, Key3Media Group announced that the Fibre Channel Industry Association and the Storage Networking Industry Association will co-exhibit for the first time in a program at Comdex.
Called Networked Storage Solutions, the pavilion, staffed by Brocade Communications, IBM, QLogic and Seagate, is designed to provide one point for all network storage, including Sans and Nas using Fibre Channel, iSCSI and FCIP.
The line-up of keynote speakers will include executives from Nokia, Sony, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Oracle and Novell.
The issue of security has been elevated to new levels and a notice on the Comdex website states: "This year at Comdex Fall, expect to see more security. Security officers will be roving the conferences and marketplace floor."
The organisers also advise visitors to "please leave bags, briefcases, backpacks, laptops, at home or in the hotel room. People carrying purses and fanny packs must enter through a separate security check."
Every visitor must have a photo ID card and have been told they will be asked to present it at random intervals.
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