Hmm, maybe it's just my particular phone...
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions regarding PRLs, more info at:
xda-developers - View Single Post - Every Sprint PRL
Both my OVs have been switched to Sprint PRLs, and their signal performances are the same as before the change when they'd VM PRLs. I believe the Awe's radio and/or antenna design are likely inferior IMO when compared to the OV's performance. One does get what you paid for, cost-cutting efforts, rush-to-market, and engineering short-cuts lead to inferior--hopefully not defective--designs... For $20, they were practically giving it away, so I'm not surprised something has to give somewhere... No issue for me though, as I could always use the Awe as a WiFi media player, a GPS logger, and a micro-tablet with JB--not too shabby for $19!