Living within the screwy reality of the subsidized phone world sometimes results in rather comical distortions. Take for example the Palm Pre 2, now tossed into the freebie bin -- along with a whole slew of its best accessories -- at HP's own Wireless Central. Announced just two months ago, HP's storefront would have you believe its slider is worth $699 with no strings attached -- or wait, what? As we do a mental reboot, let's consider the following: this lovable 1GHz QWERTY handset, still $149 through Verizon, is now free for the taking from HP with your two-year commitment to Big Red. We sense many may hesitate before taking the plunge, as the Palm-branded option felt like a stopgap solution even on launch; still, the Touchstone's second mate can toss around webOS with ease, and if you prefer the smaller form factor, this is as good as it gets (for now).

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HP now offering Verizon-branded Palm Pre 2 for zilch on contract