Pressback recliners have no handles or hidden levers; you operate them simply by pressing back on them to lay back, and by leaning forward to sit up. They work by using tension springs inside the frame, so they can only be put in one of three positions: normal, fully reclined, and the "TV" position where the footrest is extended but the back is more upright.
Because the seat itself does not move in a pressback recliner, it requires a greater distance from the wall behind it ("wall clearance") in order for the back to recline all the way.
Handle or "Wallhugger" recliners have a handle on the outside to operate the reclining mechanism. Because the handle provides more leverage to operate the mechanism, handle recliners are designed for the whole seat to slide forward on the base when reclined. This means that the required wall clearance is much less than it is for pressback recliners.
Handle recliners can be upgraded to a motorized mechanism, which uses an electric motor operated with a button.
Handle recliners can also be fitted with a swivel glider base. However, swivel glider recliners are not "wall-huggers" like their stationary counterparts! Because of the swivel base, the seat cannot slide forward as it can in the stationary version.