THERE could be no better city in the world than Las Vegas for a heavy-weight conference and exhibition like Comdex. Las Vegas exists in all its questionable glory without any reasonable, logical, or productive purpose. Could there be a better venue for the hype-merchants of this hyper industry? Of course not all of Las Vegas is glitz and glamour. For example, the modest lodgings I found myself in last week may have featured a shark pool, white tigers, and dolphin aquarium in the spartan lobby, but the volcano at the front of the hotel only erupted every 30 minutes. Entertainment in Vegas tends to be fairly reserved, so you can imagine how audience numbers dwindled at the 1993 Topless Dancer World Championship at The Stardust when Microsoft's Bill Gates himself ''Unplugged'' for a single show (keynote) at the Aladdin. It is clear from public outings like this that Bill Gates has just about more crowd-pulling power than Mecca. Last Tuesday's CEO perspective added new meaning to the words ''crowd control'' as 7,500 devotees jostled for position in an auditorium roughly the size of Wan Chai. The handing out of free Bill Gates Unplugged compact discs after the show caused only a minor crush. Of course, Comdex isn't all work, as many believe. A little known fact about the area is that Las Vegas actually boasts quite a vibrant night life. And generous, too. Some entertainment establishments were advertising a ''Two-for-One Comdex Special US$99'' which seemed to create some interest. And for an industry that is supposed to be performing only moderately well, there sure are a lot of parties at Comdex. Some companies even had a reason. Like Hewlett-Packard, which celebrated the shipment of its 20-millionth printer by raising the roof on the Riviera Hotel featuring the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Digital Equipment, apparently over the gloom days of recent years, threw a monster party at the late Liberace's mansion. Apple Computer subsidiary Claris had a ''Monday Night Football'' party for a couple of thousand close friends (and they even showed the football), as did modem-maker US Robotics, which did the smart thing by featuring cheerleaders from the nearby University of Nevada. But it's not all hedonism. There are plenty of other mindless pursuits of the rich and famous that are well worth watching. In one popular annual Comdex feature, Borland chief executive Philippe Kahn tries to out-macho himself. This year, Mr Kahn apparently joined fellow software bosses Fred Gibbons (Software Publishing) and Ed Esber (Creative Labs) to fly combat planes in combat over Las Vegas. Ha! What will they think of next. Delrina, the modest Canadian software house, threw a great party, if only because it featured the cartoon characters Opus (a Penguin) and Bill the Cat signing autographs. Readers might remember reading about Delrina in this column. It had been sued by Berkeley Systems (home of the After Dark screen saver) for copyright infringement after Delrina designed a screen-saver in which Opus blows flying toasters out of the sky with a shotgun.