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

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).

*Verizon has acquired AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.