Since Sprint hasn't announced the EVO's unactivated price or confirmed the commonly believed $450 figure, I decided to preorder at Radio Shack. The off-contract price there is $499 and includes a $20 credit for accessories, so I don't mind having to pay a little extra for the peace of mind that I'll have the EVO on launch day.
I don't have any first-hand experience with Sprint, but a long-time customer told me that the carrier doesn't exactly make it easy to purchase a phone without a contract. T-Mobile gave me a hard time when I bought the HTC HD2 a few months ago (most people don't understand why someone would buy a phone to use as a WiFi-only MID) and I didn't want to somehow be forced into signing up for something in order to walk out of Sprint with the EVO in hand, so I decided it would be easier to deal with the middleman and bypass the carrier altogether.
My first choice was Best Buy, but that turned out not to be an option when my husband was told that the stores in Hawaii (where we live) don't work with Sprint. I don't know if this is really true but after a friend told me that Best Buy told him off-contract pricing would be around $700 there anyway, I set my sights on Radio Shack.
Radio Shack began accepting preorders in person on May 14th but for some reason I waited until today to drive to one of the smaller locations. How small? My husband, 6-month-old daughter, and I made up more than half the number of people in the store. Not surprisingly, service was very quick.
The guy behind the counter asked me what I needed, I told him what I wanted, he asked if I was an existing Sprint customer or a new one, and I said I was neither and that I just wanted to buy the EVO unactivated to use it on WiFi, which he said was fine. So I paid the required $50 deposit, the guy put it on a gift card, printed my receipt, and we were done. Easy!