#1
when i record it sounds very choppy when i am playing solo's and whatnot is it just the way i am playing or the fact i am just recording straight to the input on my laptop
#2
if you upload a sample for us to listen to, it would be easier to know whether it's you or a computer problem. You should be able to tell though if your playing sounds very different recorded than it does when you just play through an amp.
#3
Generally speaking, you'll know if the hardware is crappy out.

I'm leaning toward blaming your playing. Most girls aren't aware of how fat they are unless they look in the mirror. The same goes for guitar playing and recording.

Brandon