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MacBook Air puzzles TSA, what might be next?

A recent trip through airport security proved a frustrating experience for a MacBook Air owner. What other tech products might increase your chances of missing your flight?

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read

It's just way too easy to pile on the Transportation Security Administration.

Sure, they've got a blog and all, but the TSA is not high on business travelers' lists of efficient, tech-savvy organizations. That's not going to change with the revelation that the TSA detained a new MacBook Air customer because they couldn't figure out what type of unusual laptop-like device he was carrying.

The MacBook Air recently had TSA agents scratching their heads. CNET Networks

Michael Nygard related the tale on his blog last week, explaining how gate agents were flummoxed when the X-ray machine couldn't find the hard drive. A younger member of the TSA recognized the MacBook Air, but had trouble convincing his fellow security personnel that Nygard was carrying a real, genuine laptop.

To be fair to the TSA, should they be expected to keep up with every new technology product? (Tip: here's a good resource.) And that got us thinking.

Without further adieu, CNET News.com's Top 5 Tech Products Bound to Confuse the TSA:

Lead-lined film bags in your luggage? Only if you want a call back to the check-in counter. BHphotovideo.com

5. Lead-lined film bags: Believe it or not, some people actually still use good old-fashioned film. And while it's not exactly a tech product, anything impenetrable by the scanning machine, such as protective lead-lined bags, is bound to raise a few eyebrows when your checked baggage passes through security. The TSA advises that users of "specialty film," such as "film with an ASA/ISO 800 or higher," to request a hand-inspection instead of using the lead bags, adding precious minutes to your airport ordeal.

4.Homemade electronics: Remember the days of building your own radios and electronic gear? Well, me neither, but many folks are still fooling around with custom-designed electronics for work and/or play. Just don't try to take an "improvised electronic device" through the security process, as one engineer learned the hard way via a 10-hour delay spent explaining Ohm's Law to security agents.

Medtronic's MiniMed Paradigm looks a little bit like an early 1990s' pager. Medtronic

3. Insulin pumps: For some diabetics, a trip through the security line can be exasperating. Some insulin pumps look like two-way pagers, and they can't exactly be turned off and disconnected from the body just so they can pass through the scanning machine. The MiniMed Paradigm could pass for an old PDA/cell phone, and will probably earn you a trip to that glassed-in box for additional screening.

2. The OQO: Not that all that many people bought one of these devices, nor the UMPCs that arrived after the OQO handheld computer, but what is it? Is it a PC, and should therefore have to be taken out of the bag while passing through the scanner? Is it a PDA, which can stay in the bag? For a while, San Francisco TSA agents stopped trying to figure it out, and just made travelers take everything electronic out of their bags, but that practice supposedly has come to an end.

And the Top Tech Product Bound to Confuse the TSA.....

"Honestly, sir, it's for my 12-year-old daughter." Riflegear.com

1. The Hello Kitty Assault Rifle: Come on, it's just too cute to be a weapon of medium-size destruction, isn't it?