So far we have seen two videos promoting Microsoft's new Surface Book. The first video, which gives us a glimpse into the inside of the product also raises some questions in the process. What's up will all the empty space in the clipboard section of the Surface Book?
Whereas some devices have physical contours, which results in unusable space on the inside of the device, the clipboard of the Surface Book doesn't have any, being completely flat. A screenshot from the promotional video shows that about 20% of the space isn't filled. For starters, it's quite possible the space is simply taken by other components that simply aren't shown. One must also consider that the clipboard by itself already weighs 1.57 pounds, meaning adding more batteries would have made it uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time.
Before we accuse Microsoft of cheating us out of more battery capacity, also keep in mind that the Surface Book doesn't feature a kickstand like the Surface Pro 4 and thus relies on the weight of its base to keep from falling backwards. Taking the 1.57 lbs. weight and a total device weight of 3.34 lbs. means the keyboard portion weights a slightly more 1.77 lbs. While less battery in the clipboard portion of the device means a battery life of only four hours when detached, it's clear that the decision to not add more was out of pure concern on the weight distribution of the device.
This concern is partially the reason behind the new dynamic fulcrum hinge. By having a hinge that rolls out, it increases the surface area of base of the product and thus, adds more stability. So while you want to maximize battery life of any product, it isn't necessarily about cramming a battery into every inch of the device. This is ultimately why the battery is split unevenly, achieving four hours with just the clipboard and eight additional hours with the keyboard.
Where the Surface team had to be considerate of the weight of the clipboard, as you can see from image of the inside of the keyboard base, they crammed batteries into every inch of that portion of chassis. Overall, it's clear that the device in itself was an engineering challenge and it's interesting to hear the insight and design decisions that went into creating the device. You can read about more the insights here.