Speaking before a convention hall filled with worshipful fans, Apple's Steve Jobs unveils a new online movie-rental plan through iTunes, and a seriously svelte laptop computer
Steve Jobs
Credit: Paul Sakuma/AP

After spending the last several years interviewing A-list celebrities from the world of film (Philip Seymour Hoffman!), music (Mariah Carey!), and television (Screech!), I believed I’d finally become immune to the power of star charisma. I thought wrong.

Yesterday morning, I sat in a darkened auditorium at the 2008 Macworld Convention while Apple CEO Steve Jobs held court onstage, introducing his latest batch of techno-wizardry to a breathless audience. For those unaware, Macworld is a five-day event held in San Francisco each year where Apple unveils its latest products to throngs of near-worshipful fans, retailers, and, yes, members of the media.

I must admit: I came under the spell of the Jobs’ so-called Reality Distortion Field: within seconds of each announcement I had to fight the urge to a buy every new Mac product right that second. The event had a rock concert vibe — and while no one threw undergarments on the stage at Steve, several folks were holding up their iPods like lighters in homage. (Watch the keynote here.)

While last year’s big reveal was the iPhone — perhaps you?ve heard of it? — 2008 is all about keeping the couch potato happy.

First off: iTunes Movie Rentals. All the big film studios have signed on, so Blades of Glory is just a $3.99 click away — but there are a few catches. Like a Mission: Impossible assignment, should you choose to rent: you’ve got 30 days to watch and only a 24-hour window to finish up after hitting the ”play” button. Which royally screws my plans to view The Simpsons Movie in 10-minute bite size pieces every single day until I’ve examined each frame for naughty bits the animators might’ve slipped in. (Oh, and new flicks won’t show up until a month after the DVD hits stores.) On the other hand, I suppose that having a movie that downloads onto my computer’s hard drive (super quickly, too) is better than having to wait for my mailman to drop off the latest DVD in my Netflix queue.

Next: I gotta assume everyone out there reading right now has a computer, but as some still refuse to move into the 21st century, there’s the upgraded Apple TV. Plug the compact white box to your television and it can connect directly to the Internet, allowing you to download stuff from iTunes, YouTube and Flickr — neatly sidestepping the need for what my mom calls ”that square box that holds all your pictures and home movies.” It’s a laptop, Ma. It’s called a laptop.

And finally, speaking of laptops — thin is in. Like most winners on America’s Next Top Model, the new Apple Air is a waif. Touted as the ”World’s Thinnest Laptop,” it literally fits inside an inter-office envelope. And I want one. Bad. Yes, there’s the $1800 price tag (for the basic version), but since it weighs just three pounds, I’m already counting all the money I’d save on visits to the chiropractor. What’s that about reality distortion…?