Ok, let's clear up a few things:
1. Panasonic's black levels were never great to begin with...they were very good. "Great" is how I would describe my CRT and the way other's have described the KUROs.
2. Panasonic's V10 black levels were routinely described in reviews from magazines and websites as being second only to the KURO and tests came in at 0.005 ftL.
3. Actual measurements by user showed most to be around 0.008 or 0.009.
Now, 0.008 is not all that black to begin with on a black field. While no one stares at a black field for long there are plenty of low level and low contrast scenes in movies (the beginning of Master & Commander and 2001 to name two) that don't look all that great on the V10...as a matter of fact, my first post when I got it was "is this as black as it gets?" because I was used to CRT black levels. Apparently my definition of "inky blacks" and other people's definition of the same thing were just a tad different. However, the set had so many other features that improved on my CRT, that I accepted the black level for what it was which I assume was 0.008 as it looks the same to me now (now that I have a meter) as it did when I first got it.
That being said, even an increase to just 0.012 would be quite noticeable as I already know what it should look like. A 1 IRE field on my set measures 0.017 ftL. This looks NOWHERE near black. A 0.012 reading is right in between my glowing "black" of 0.008 and 1% at 0.017. A 2 IRE field measures a whopping 0.025 ftL. which is what some people have as their absolute black. This is equivalent to the 2% bars on the DVE PLUGE pattern.
Personally, since 0.008 is already too light for me, anything higher would be unacceptable. I would give it a little bit of leeway but would be greatly disappointed if it rose at all. If mine rose to anything above 0.016, I'd be screaming as that is VERY noticeable.
So when is it noticeable? On mixed brightness content? Not at all because the Panasonic PDP holds it's black very well with mixed content. It actually measures about 0.017 on an ANSI contrast pattern but it LOOKS blacker because of the high luminance of the surrounding white patterns which causes your pupils to close more and let in less light effectively making 0.017 look very black.
However, on low contrast and dark scenes with little bright lighting (think about most night scenes in a film where there's not a bright light illuminating the shot) anything that is not true black (as in below approx. 0.004 ftL.) doesn't look black and is quite noticeable. THIS is the true testament of a great display. The higher that number becomes, the more washed out the picture becomes. The Panasonics were never great but were very good. To say that the V10 has "great blacks" needs to be clarified depending on what kind of content you are watching.
Ultimately not stating that the MLL will rise (by God knows how much) and then claiming this is normal (while advertising Infinite Blacks at the same time) is pretty low and deserves to be rectified. Any rising of the black level should not really happen as apparently Pioneer is capable of keeping its original level while maintaining pixel firing...this is to say that it is not an inherent technological deficieny but rather Pansonic's implementation of it. The most severe rising black levels may be malfuctioning sets (and should be serviced free of charge) but even more subtle rises should not be acceptable based on how Panasonic has advertised this product.
On low contrast content, ANY rise in black level is very noticeable.
I have no black level issues yet (the verdict is still out on the 58 & 65 inch V10's) but until Panasonic changes its tune, I won't support them in the future.
Btw, it took 3 attempts before Circuit City sold me my first subwoofer that didn't rattle or buzz. I just kept returning them until I got one that worked properly...worked fine from then on.