Since: Apr 03, 2002
Ah, Young Jedi, you've learned so much, yet have much to learn...
No, For the love of all that is sacred DO NOT get an E-machine. These are built with the cheapest components available, assembled by cheaper people and will cause you nothing but frustration. Emachines work fine for grandma that wants to check her email, or grandpa that want to check his stocks, but it will not cut it in a studio environment. Seriously.
You are far better off, in the long run, spending a few extra bucks to get a better machine, because if you don't, you WILL spend the money later upgrading when the Emachine drives you nuts.
You may, if you or a friends has any experience, be much better off building one, it could cost less and be a very simple system to upgrade in the future and not have to work around integrated components and the like.
As I recall you are a one-man band (or at least record one instrument at a time...am I correct? If so, the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 is about $150 and is perfect for you.
Regarding applications, I would suggest using Kristal to get your feet wet, it's free, it kicks butt and it's free...oh, ya, did I mention it's free? AFter playing around, and getting used to the whole PC recording thang, download a demo of MultitrackStudio, Cakewalk, Tracktion or whatever, and just see which one fits you best.