Unlike decks, CD players come in two distinct types: desktop and twin CD players. Both types have their own fan base, but essentially twin CD players are cheaper: they allow many common components to be shared, and are favoured mainly by mobile DJ's who take advantage of the many flight case available for a rackmount unit (frequently together with mixers and amps) to make the unit portable and easy to transport from gig to gig.
Desktop CD players have traditionally been favoured by DJ's who have used, or are transferring from vinyl as they are more at home with the deck style layout of a desktop style machine, but are also used by DJs with digital music libraries copied to CD-R or DVD.
Both types of CD player are valid, and if you're happy with one type, then stick with it - nothing makes one style better than another - neither is technically better, so go with what you feel most comfortable with - take a look at what's available, and decide what you do and don't need.
All CD players perform a basic function - to play CD's - but unlike turntables, they need to provide a mechanism for controlling the actual playback. Unlike a deck you can't simply touch a spinning CD to slow it down a bit. This is where the money you spend comes in. Budget CD players usually provide a couple of pitch bend buttons, which when pushed, temporarily speed up or slow down the track, allowing you to bring your mix into time. A little further up the price range, and you get a wheel to do this job for you, slightly more like a turntable, you spin the wheel forward to add a little pitch, or spin it backwards to slow it. Then come wheels with more features: digital scratching / vinyl mode is now quite common on CD players. Then you have CD player / controllers such as the Pioneer CDJ900/2000, with their ability to interface with DJ Software on a PC or Mac.
In the same way as we sell decks from budget to top-of-the-range, we also sell CD players from under £200 to well over £1500 - and what separates them is their feature set. A good budget deck will do what it has too, but with no bells and whistles, and a top of the range twin CD player, such as the Pioneer CDJ2000, will offer a huge range of facilities, from digital software control, vinyl mode, seamless loops, hot-cues, brake and other platter effects, anti-shock, on board effects, digital sampling, and more other gimmicks and buttons than you'll probably ever use.
Sometimes we feel that manufacturers miss the point with CD players - adding selling points and other gimmicks at the cost of proper, practical design and functionality, but as ever, we're here to cut the crap and suggest our favourite CD decks - we've done a list for both twin and desktop players to help you make up your mind.
Twin CD Players
Desktop CD Players