I contacted X-arcade support about the need for manually have to load the desired config each time (by pressing the button in the back twice) and they're sending a new PCB that should fix the issue. I.e. it looks like it's been like that for years and that they just recently fixed it. I was told the Solo joysticks they had in stock still had the old PCB, but any new joysticks they build should have the new. Expect to get the new PCB in the next few days.
The two cables hanging out of the back on the X-arcade bugs me, especially when I slide it around on the desk. If the new PCB turns out ok, I might keep it anyway though. Still need to play more, but I'd say the X-arcade joystick is probably preferred for games that requires precision, like e.g. the later levels of Scramble. I do prefer the buttons on the Hori though as I seem to get tired fingers pretty quick after smashing the X-arcade buttons.
Still tempted to try the Mad Catz:
or probably the soon to be released Ultra Street Fighter IV edition as it does have more colorful buttons: