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Just as we predicted, the Verizon Pre 2 will be shipping to customers who lay down $99 and sign a 2-year contract on February 17th. It's $439.99 without a contract. You can "reserve" yours now at HP's web store. Verizon's store, curiously, doesn't have a preorder page up, but they're probably busy with other things like, oh, the Verizon iPhone launch.

It's not just the the Verizon iPhone that's stealing the Pre 2's thunder, of course. The Pre 3 was announced yesterday with a larger screen, better keyboard, dual-cameras, video calling, and more. Sure, the Pre 3 isn't coming until "Summer" and although we know it'll be EVDO Rev A, we don't know whether or not Verizon will pick up the device. 

We've asked before if HP and Verizon should bother releasing the Pre 2 with newer devices coming down the line. In fact, we asked HP that very question yesterday: convince us to buy a Pre 2 now that we've seen the Pre 3. The answer - some people want a slightly smaller phone with a slightly smaller screen. Our guess at the real answer: somebody at HP Labs felt that the Osbourne Effect hasn't had a good enough real-life test case and figured that the suddenly dowdy-looking Pre 2 would be the perfect subject.

Whatever the answer, we've been using the unlocked Pre 2 here at PC HQ for some time and although webOS 2.0.1 has the occassional bug, it's still a very big step up over the Pre Plus. Unfortunately, since Verizon's own store isn't saying Peep about the Pre 2, we can't confirm what Mobile Hotspot is going to cost on this device.

Update: @kyledrandall preordered and confirmed that once again Verizon is making a webOS phone of the best deals in wireless: HP's Mobile Hotspot application, which lets you tether up to 5 devices over WiFi, will not cost you a penny over your standard data plan.