Freeview is the marketing name for digital terrestrial television (ie digital TV received through a normal TV aerial).
You pay a one-off fee for a set-top box (these start from as little as £40 these days, but £60-100 is more normal) and get about 30 TV channels plus various radio stations - you can find the whole lineup at http://www.freeview.co.uk.
The channels include the BBC digital services (BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News 24, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC Parliament) as well as various commercial channels including ITV2, the ITV News Channel, Sky News and Sky Travel, as well as an assortment of shopping channels.
Analogue terrestrial television is what most people use to get the five basic channels through an aerial.
Digital television comes in three flavours these days:
Digital satellite - this is most commonly in the form of a Sky Digital subscription, though many people are unaware that you do not need a subscription to watch many non-premium channels via satellite
Digital terrestrial (aka Freeview) - this is digital TV through a traditional aerial. No recurring payments, no contract - you just buy the set-top box and plug it in. Smaller selection of channels than satellite, but ideal for those who can't or won't have a satellite dish installed, and want access to the BBC digital channels they are already paying for via the licence fee.
Digital cable - this of course is dependent on your street being cabled, and needs a subscription to a cable company.
There is also analogue cable (much of SE1 has this) and analogue satellite, but I won't go into those.
James - OK, thanks, whatever. As I said, I know nothing about it, and the more I find out, the more confusing it seems to be. However, if I can get a telly with the thing already in it, like computers with modems, then that would seem the ideal answer.
TLMJJ - are they much more expensive? - thanks
I have a horrid feeling, though, that this might all be no good to me anyway, I'm not attached to the aerial in my block - yet more expense. Oh well, back to the drawing board. I'm sure that this info will be useful to other people in any case.
I had a look down the Walworth Rd today & the cheapest box (Woolies at the Elephant) seems to be £60. Most are about £100. Any advice from anyone about whether cheapest is just as good, or if it's worth spending more? Many thanks for help