i wanted something i can plug in my computer and record (guitar, mic , keyboard). some thing like an 8 track. i was looking at an Line 6 POD Studio UX2 with POD Farm . i like that you could choose different rigs and play with those. but i want something easy to use. and something that will master your recordings. in a $250 or less price range
Try an EMU 0202 USB interface and if you want to mic cabs or sing, get a Shure SM57 mic.
Total should be under your budget.

As for software, start out with Reaper. Its a free trial but a very reasonably priced sequencer if you are happy with it. The lower end Sonars and Cubases are also good. Try some 30 day trials when it comes to sequencers and see what you like working with.