There are different types of iron that, traditionally, have been used for different jobs. In tailoring many differing shapes and sizes of iron are made, but for general ironing the following are those you should consider.
Flat Irons
Any iron without steam can be considered a flat iron. They are normally light and very maneuverable and with the use of a sprayer will produce exceptionally good results. These are the oldest kind of iron and the ones shown right would have been placed over a fire to heat them up.
Steam Irons
The majority of irons on sale are steam irons and their popularity is because steam softens fabrics and this plus the addition of heat from the sole of the iron then sets the finish. The steam is delivered by dripping water onto a hot plate, the evaporation then puffs out of holes on the bottom of the iron. They often come with extra features that are meant to improve ironing but the only one worth searching for is extra stream, all the others adding no more than you would get from a spray bottle and an ironing shoe (which you might not want to have on all the time).
Irons with a Steam Reservoir
Home Iron with Reservoir Pro-Iron with Reservoir (click to purchase)
This is the closest you'll get to a professional iron. In cases of irons intended for home use normally the base of the iron contains a reservoir for water that boils and is available as a continuous stream of steam. Professional irons have a separate boiler as they often need more steam capacity to enable the ironer to iron for longer before refilling. 

You can also often use the iron as a steamer by just holding it up to a garment and pressing the button. This type of iron will speed up your ironing and is clearly the best choice for the widest variety of materials, but these features come at a price

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