Usually when we hear the phrase "contract-free developer phone" the words "unlocked" and "GSM" follow shortly thereafter, but apparently Palm didn't get the memo -- it just announced discounted hardware prices for its devices, but they're carrier-locked to Verizon and Sprint. Yeah, that's a big sad face out of us -- it's not like Verizon's going to give you a cheaper plan if you show up with a contract-free device. In fact, you might be better off picking up a $79 Pre on a Sprint contract from Amazon and just canceling after a year or so -- the ETF will have been prorated to $120 by then, putting you way ahead of Palm's $439 price tag. So much for that dream -- at least we still have our fantasy of driving to Mexico for an illicit Telcel Pre smuggling run.
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.