Actually the 5080 is indeed a KURO - i almost bought the 42" version back in 2007 and they were definitely marketed as KURO (i didn't know what it meant back then). It's Kuro-ness was a big deal on the forums back then.
While the old tank-like Pioneers admittedly had better build quality than the Samsungs (or any other current or recent brand and model for that matter), as long as the Sammy is functioning normally it should last as long as any other brand.
Yes indeed. I believe it had a black level of .006.
Pioneer Kuro Elite Pro-111FD
Pioneer Kuro BDP-320
Displays are like 100% cotton t-shirts. Always buy a size larger than you think you'll need, as they tend to shrink over time.
Since plasma technology is on the way out it would be unrealistic to expect there to be a dramatic drop- $1000 or more- in the price of the 8500. It's more likely that you won't be able to find one in the future. Read the posts from folks who waited for the price to drop on Panasonic plasmas- they stopped making them and they became less available so the price actually went up: simple supply and demand equation on price. Might the price for the 8500 go down a couple hundred dollars- maybe. Is saving a couple hundred dollars that important to you when you're looking to buy a $2500 TV?
I paid $6000 for my Pioneer Elite 1120 9 years and have no regrets. It was the best TV on the planet at the time. The price of a slightly better plasma 2 years later cost $2000 less. I received 2 years of enjoyment during that time- well worth it!
Please don't be one of those guys that beats themselves up because someone else bought the same product you bought for $100 less.