The former can get quite expensive (from $800 to $5,000), and the latter are designed for people with mobility issues. Regardless of what type you pick, check that there's no more than a five-inch gap between the seat and the open leg rest; otherwise, children or pets can get caught and injured. Same goes for the lever — make sure tiny hands (or your own fingers) can't get stuck inside or pinched.
You want to see heavy-duty screws, not dinky ones or, worse, plastic fasteners. Don't be fooled by a vague description like "all-wood construction," which may be code for low-quality pressboard — too soft to withstand the back-and-forth motion of a recliner. Get the salesperson to clarify, and actually look at the bones: Hardwood, like birch or poplar, is superior, but be prepared to spend about $1,000 or maybe more. A decent second choice is plywood, starting at a low $300. Finally, with any recliner, check the manufacturer's guarantee and opt for one that spans at least three years.