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Thread Re Recording setup

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1 Re Recording setup
I need some help regarding a setup for my recording needs.
I play guitar, sing, bass and have other friends do other instruments. I am looking for a solution setup for my PC (will be a MAC oneday). I get together with friends at times to share ideas, put stuff together and concentrate on playing live together.
What I’m looking for is a setup with pre-amps for mics etc, quick and easy to lay tracks fast as the inspiration comes. A ‘note pad’ sirt of thing.
I have used a Maxi Isis sound card (major crap), SB Value, ESI Wave terminal and lately an Audiophile 24/96. The latter pretty good but with cables, preamps (read old cassette player) and tied to the PC, stifles the process.
I have looked at the Lexicon Omega/Lambada but read poor reviews about their overall performance, looked at Tascam DP01 but read their hard drives give up the ghost easily and read here about Firepod/box using firewire and they sound interesting.
I also edit video and do LP transfers from my old collection to clean up and re burn on CD.
Any ideas.
Oh, budget about $450 or less (3 kids and a mortgage) :/