XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote Review

1 - Remote

The XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote is currently the only alternative for the Wacom Expresskey Remote. It doesn’t offer quite as many buttons as the Wacom Expresskey Remote, but with a price of 36 USD which is less than half the 100 USD price of the Wacom remote, it’s a tempting offer for anyone who wants a shortcut remote, but thinks the Wacom remote is too pricey for what it does.

In my review, I hope to make it clear to you whether the XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote is a worthwhile low price alternative to the Wacom Expresskey Remote, or if its quality is reflective of its lower price.

I bought the XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote to use on the XP-Pen Artist 22HD because the tablet was simply too big and I could not comfortably use a normal sized keyboard alongside it.

On another note, Wacom devices come with a built-in Radial Menu software, whereas the XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote does not. To remedy this, I made use of a free program called RadialMenu (http://radialmenu.weebly.com/) which was created to give non-Wacom users access to radial menu and on-screen toolbar functions as well.
I will review the free RadialMenu software at a later time, but as far as I have seen, it perfectly replicates the abilities of Wacom’s Radial Menu software and I highly recommend you take a look into it if you want on-screen functions.

Anyways, onto the review!

Please note!
-I am not a Mac or Linux user!! I only tested this device on Windows 8 and Windows 10.
-Prices may have changed since I wrote this review.
-Check when a review was written. Some aspects may improve or change over time, so it is in your best interest to concentrate on reviews which are less than 1 year old.



Table of Contents



How good is this device?

Design and build quality: Decent.
Drivers/Software: Quite good!
Actual usage: Fair.

Overall: Completely use-able, but many design aspects reflect the lower price.

My verdict:
-Overall, this device is completely use-able and it will get the job done quite well.

All my complaints are somewhat idealistic and you could argue that the XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote is actually fairly high quality for its low price, so I will have to leave it to you to decide for yourself whether you want the budget XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote, or the Wacom Expresskey Remote.


Important specifications

Price: 35.99 USD (when this review was written) Amazon.com
Buttons: 10 programmable buttons, 1 rotating wheel
Battery: 1x AAA alkaline battery (not included)
Wireless: 2.4 GHz


What’s in the box?

2 - Box

The remote comes in a simple small box with a picture of the remote on it. There’s really nothing special to say about it.

3 - Contents

The things that come in the box:

  • XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote
  • Wireless USB dongle
  • Driver installation CD
  • User manual
  • “Thank you” card

4 - CD

Please download the shortcut remote drivers from XP-Pen’s site instead of using the outdated drivers on the CD. I installed and tested the drivers on the CD and they are limited compared to the new drivers available on XP-Pen’s site.

5 - Remote

The remote has a similar design to the Wacom remote with buttons on the bottom, and a circular button on the top. The wheel area actually takes up quite a bit of space, and I can’t help but wonder if they could have fit a few more buttons on there by moving the wheel over to the side a bit.

6 - Buttons

The buttons are simple plastic buttons. The only physical indicator of which button your finger is on is the raised line on the middle key, similar to how a 10-key numpad has a raised line on the 5 key.
I had no problems navigating the keypad without any physical indicator bumps because I keep my fingers on the same edge keys all the time, but that depends on how you use your device I suppose.

The buttons themselves feel… subpar, at most. They are somewhat squishy to use and I much prefer the snappier feeling of the keys on my 15 USD Logitech keyboard, but I guess this is pretty par for the course for its low price. The buttons are completely use-able and don’t actually get in the way of drawing, they just don’t feel amazing.

7 - Wheel

The wheel is made of silver plastic which is actually quite slippery. The bumps on the plastic are there to help you grip the wheel, but they’re somewhat too small to help when your finger is dry or slippery.

So basically, it’s not perfect, but it’s completely workable. Once I adopted a method where I use both my index and middle finger to spin the wheel, the slipperiness of the plastic was no longer an issue.

8 - Wireless

The wireless symbol above the rotating wheel lights up briefly when the remote is turned on and when you click the buttons or spin the wheel.

The light is not so bright that it distracts you from your drawing.

9 - Plastic

As you can see, the black plastic around the wheel is a fingerprint magnet. I was never one who minded these kinds of fingerprint magnets as long as the device works, but if it bothers you this is probably not the device for you.

10 - Profile

The remote is fairly slim with a thickness slightly more than a modern smartphone.

11 - Back

The back of the remote has two rubber feet which are meant to allow the device to stick to your screen. It sticks onto a clean screen for angles of around 0 to 60 degrees. Any steeper than that and the rubber feet cannot hold the remote in place.
Note: I have noticed that the rubber feet do not stick if they have even a slight amount of dust on them, so try cleaning the rubber feet and tablet screen if you find that it is not gripping the monitor.

12 - OnOff Switch

The on/off switch is on the back. Off is towards the middle, and On is towards the outside. Well, if you can’t remember which is which, just toggle it to see if the light on the front flashes on.

One thing to note is that this remote seems to be made to only use power when a button is pressed, so even if you leave it on, it shouldn’t deplete battery as long as none of the buttons are being pressed.
Of course, I am not 100% sure about this, so it is safest to turn it off whenever you are not using it.

13 - Battery

This shortcut remote requires one AAA battery to power it. It certainly would have been nice if it had a built-in rechargeable battery, but using one AAA battery isn’t much of a hassle in the first place.
Unfortunately, I have no idea how long one battery will last for, but I think it should last for more than a year (referencing the fact that Surface Pro pens last for around a year when used frequently, and they use a smaller AAAA battery).

14 - USB Slot

On the back is a slot for the USB dongle. The USB dongle fits snugly in that slot and will not fall out no matter how hard you shake the remote.

That sounds good at first, but in reality, this means that it’s simply impossible to pull the dongle out with your finger. You’re certainly not going to lose the dongle, but you also aren’t going to be able to get it out without a wedge. It’s a good idea to be able to store the USB dongle on the remote, but it was poorly executed in this case.

Overall, there’s really nothing completely deal-breaking with the build quality of the XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote, especially when you take into consideration the price.


Drivers/Software

The drivers for the XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote are easy to install. Make sure you download the latest drivers from XP-Pen’s site instead of using the driver installation CD because the newest ones have greater customization options.

When you install the drivers, they will automatically create a desktop shortcut for you to easily find and open the settings.
Correction: The desktop icon only starts the XP-Pen driver software (if it doesn’t run automatically on startup) and clicking it doesn’t actually open the settings screen. To open the settings screen, you will need to click the XP-Pen icon in the system tray (the bottom right portion of your screen). 
If you don’t see the XP-Pen icon in the system tray, it could be automatically hidden by Windows. If so, click on the small white arrow to show all the system tray icons.

When your device is plugged in, there will be an XP-Pen icon in the system tray. You can click that to open the device settings as well.

16 - Settings

The settings of the shortcut remote are simple enough. Each button has its corresponding drop-down menu where you can choose to assign the default function, run a program, or assign a function key.
Note: A lot of Amazon reviews say some buttons are not programmable, but those reviews are wrong or outdated. All the buttons are programmable with the current XP-Pen drivers.

The hide hints checkbox controls whether the “hints” show up on screen. Hints are words that show up near the bottom of your main monitor to tell you which function button you just pressed and used.
The biggest problem with the hints is that they will only show up on your main monitor, so if your tablet is set as the second non-main monitor, the hints will not show up there. They are also fairly useless compared to Wacom’s Expressview because these hints only show up after you press the button, and not before.

Using the function key option, you can assign mouse clicks, keyboard shortcuts, or one of the four extra functions built into the driver. I believe the Switch Monitor function does not work for non-XP-Pen tablets.

One thing to note is that you cannot combine any of the 3 types of functions together. For example, you cannot assign right click and alt in the same function key. However, you can assign right click to a pen button and alt to a function key and use them in combination that way, so not being able to assign them together is not a problem at all.

To be very honest, I don’t even know of any shortcuts which use a combination of right or middle mouse click and a keyboard key, so I really doubt that not being able to combine them can be counted as a con, but I thought I’d mention it because I saw a review on Youtube pointing that out about the new XP-Pen drivers.

In the Dial tab, you can assign scroll, set up your own keyboard shortcuts, or assign no action.

There are no pre-built functions aside from scroll and no action, so you will have to match the zoom/rotate/brush size keyboard shortcuts of your program with the keyboard keys assigned to the dial.
I much prefer this customization approach over the drivers which only allow you to choose among pre-built functions as those often do not work in many programs, leaving the rotating wheel unuseable due to the fact that you cannot customize it and use it in your program.

One thing I have noticed about the wheel settings is that on computer start-up, the settings will automatically start at the third shortcut, even if the third shortcut is set to “no action”. If you do not assign a KL/KR Switch function to any button, make sure the function you want assigned to the wheel is on the third function, otherwise your wheel may do a whole bunch of nothing.

19 - Programs Option

Along the top of the drivers, you will notice a plus and minus button. Those add or remove profiles which are assigned to specific programs. This makes it so that you can make custom profiles which will switch specifically when the assigned program is currently being used.
The “Other” profile is the default profile which will be used when no programs you have assigned profiles to are being used.

It’s great that they implemented the ability to automatically switch profiles based on the current program, but personally, I would very much appreciate it if there was a method to import and export profiles. That way, I wouldn’t have to manually set all my shortcuts again after reinstalling the drivers.
Is it a problem that you can’t import and export profiles? Not particularly, but it’s still something that I would like implemented.


The user experience!

20 - User Experience

The XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote didn’t really hinder me in any way while I was drawing with it. The buttons are slightly mushy, but they press properly and activate all the functions that they’re supposed to, and I didn’t encounter any freezes with the drivers. I was able to use the XP-Pen remote with both my Ugee HK1560 and XP-Pen Artist 22HD with no problems.
I can quite honestly say that I wouldn’t mind using the shortcut remote as a replacement on big tablets like the XP-Pen Artist 22HD where using my keyboard comfortably isn’t viable, but I personally still prefer keyboards when I can use them.

The biggest “problem” that I ran into while using the XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote is that there is no way to identify which function the rotating wheel is currently on. For instance, if you have zoom, rotate, and brush size assigned to the rotating wheel, if you forget which function you were last on, you have to take the extra step of spinning the wheel just to figure out which function you’re currently on.
I addressed this problem by assigning Ctrl+Space (zoom modifier in Clip Studio Paint) to the button in the middle of the rotating wheel, and assigning rotate to the wheel itself. This way, the rotating wheel is solely for rotate, and the button in the middle is zoom, and I waste no time changing functions when zooming and rotating.
I assigned Ctrl+Alt (brush size modifier in Clip Studio Paint) to a different function key as I dislike using the rotating wheel for brush size in the first place.

Another problem is that the bezel on both my tablets is smaller than the shortcut remote, so the shortcut remote intrudes onto the screen a bit. It’s a slight problem that it blocks the File and Edit buttons, but even Wacom’s expresskey remote does that on the Cintiq Pro 13 and 16. You just have to lift the remote to access that section of the screen, or set custom functions on RadialMenu to allow you to use those File/Edit functions without clicking in that area of the screen.


Conclusion

I think the capabilities of the XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote are really solid for the price it’s sold at. If you’re fine with a slightly lower quality shortcut remote, you can most certainly settle with the XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote + free RadialMenu (http://radialmenu.weebly.com/) software to get functionality almost completely on par with what you would get from the Wacom Expresskey Remote.


Places to buy

XP-Pen Store | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | AliExpress
People living in other regions should check their regions Amazon or see if the XP-Pen Store ships to them.

If you have any questions about the tablet, feel free to ask me!

Author: Nikage

I am a hobbyist artist. Ever since I bought my first Wacom alternative tablet, I've become interested in finding out what other alternative tablets are good, and trying to guide people to see that there's more than just Wacom on the market.

6 thoughts on “XP-Pen AC19 Shortcut Remote Review”

  1. Thanks for this review. I’ve spent far too much time today wading through bad reviews on Amazon that didn’t answer any of the questions I actually had. Your review answered them all and a couple it never occurred to me to ask. End result, I buy tomorrow; they should pay you a commission. 😉

    Like

  2. Great review. It’s really hard to find in-depth reviews for this remote for some reasons, Amazon reviews are not super reliable IMO. I still think Razer Tartarus is a better, cheaper alternative to the Wacom Remote but I hope XP will consider updating this remote someday.

    P.S. Will you review the CLIP STUDIO TABMATE? It is a bit cheaper than Razer Tartarus, but also cost 20$ more than this remote. I wonder if that one is worth it than the AC19.

    Like

    1. Hey there,

      Thanks for reading my review, and I’m glad it was helpful. I also found that the Amazon reviews weren’t useful for the XP-Pen shortcut remote, which is part of why I bought it to try it out myself.
      I completely agree with you that the Razer Tartarus is a better device when it comes to shortcut devices you can use alongside your tablet. I think shortcut remotes are better when it comes to portability, but if it’s meant for at-home work, then a keypad like the Tartarus is much more versatile for sure.

      Unfortunately, I currently have no plans to review the Clip Studio Tabmate remote. It doesn’t look attractive enough to me to try it, and I especially don’t like how it has so few buttons.
      Maybe if I was concerned about portability, it could possibly be a good cheaper alternative to the Wacom Expresskey remote, but it seems to be made specifically for Clip Studio Paint. From the Amazon reviews I’m reading, it doesn’t appear to work in other programs and that kind of prevents it from being an attractive choice for the general user.
      Also, if it doesn’t need to be portable and it’s just for home use, then I really can’t see it being better than something with loads of buttons like the Razer Tartarus V2 or Orbweaver.

      -Nikage

      Like

    1. Hi! Thank you so much for the review.
      It helped me understand this product a lot more.
      My only question is have you tried or you know of that this work with Blender, Adobe or any video editing software?

      Thank you,
      Jae

      Like

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