Skip to main content

Do you detach your Surface Book's base? (poll)

When Microsoft's Surface Book was unveiled, it impressed for two reasons. One, it was a pretty sweet laptop, and two, it was also a tablet when you wanted it to be. Microsoft had essentially built a reverse Surface Pro, and it was everything we wanted.

Fast forward to 2017, and there are rumors that Microsoft will abandon the 2-in-1 form factor for the Surface Book, essentially turning it into a normal laptop. Here at Windows Central, we don't believe that'll be the case. But it did get us wondering, how many people actually detach the Surface Book from its base?

As a Surface Book owner myself, apart from trying it out a few time when I first got the device, I basically never detach it. I'm not an artist, and I much prefer taking notes with a keyboard than with a pen on a screen.

I also find that I use other 2-in-1s as tablets much more often than the Surface Book, even though my Surface Book is my main device. Why? The hinge. Although the hinge is great, it's just not as convenient and as easy to use than a full 360-degree rotating hinge, like the one on the Spectre x360.

I find it cumbersome to switch between the two modes on the Surface Book. I have to hit a button, wait a few seconds, pull it off, spin it around and then reattach it. On the Spectre x360, it's one simple maneuverer and your laptop is a tablet.

If a Surface Book 2 arrived as a laptop and not a 2-in-1, I would be just fine with it. I use the Surface Book almost exclusively as a laptop, which is why I wouldn't be affected by the change. I know that's not the case for everyone, however, so please participate in our poll and let us know if you ever detach your Surface Book.

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

73 Comments
  • It is nice to be able to detach when I am on an airplane. The benefit is that I can use the tablet portion the entire time that I am on the plane since you are not allowed to use laptops (or "anything larger than a tablet") below 10,000 feet.
  • But the battery life in the screen portion is terrible. You might get 1 movie out of it, but no way is it last a long haul flight. The Surface Pro 4 is much more useful as a tablet. I love my Surface Book, but its basically an amazing laptop. I can see why MS would drop it. I bet they've looked around the office, and those using them will all be in laptop mode :/
  • I've not been on a flight in a few years, dont flights have power outlets to charge these days? You can plug the tablet portion into the surface connect charger.
  • What's great about the Surface Book is that you can detach the screen, flip it around, and then fold it back down, which provides the benefit of it being considered a tablet while still getting better battery life than a Surface Pro. In airplane mode you should be able to get well over 6 hours of battery, depending on the screen brightness.
  • I think that's what Surface Book is... MS never dismiss that feature It's cool.. Maybe should make surface book 2 and Surface book 2.0
  • I use it in clipboard only form when in shorter meetings (less than two hours) and don't have to worry about battery life. If I'm using it all day in tablet format (frequently) I will leave the base on and flip the tablet round. It's a bit heavy but works just fine.
  • Exactly same for me. Taking notes in a Meeting, without having this kind of "Barrier" toward the others as in a traditional Laptop, writng and sketching, is more than productive, it's cool.
  • Not often, but when I do, I'm glad the feature is there.
  • I don't own a surface book. I think the detachable design makes the surface book unique and has a competitive edge. A plain laptop design would defeat the innovative edge that surface has over the competition. The surface is the example for the competition. If the surface book follow up was a laptop the tables would be turned and follow the competition. Not per se bad, but I think that the surface would be less tempting and competitive price relevance over quality would then determine my choice. I don't think I would choose another surface and so would the market. On the other hand it would help refocus the attention to windows software which still needs a lot of attention to improving the basics, as most hardware is quite good anyway, but software is still lagging far behind in fit and finish in current hardware.  
  • yeah, if next surface book is just a laptop, I'll more than likely not even consider it. I'd just get a razer. the fact that it can become a tablet makes me at least think about whether I'd want something that's capable of doing that.
  • For myself, I draw on my SB daily - I'll dabble in digital art and sometimes animation and then I use the clipboard during brainstorming - I prefer the SB over the SPro simply because I can also play some more graphically intense games that the Pro would struggle to even run. Though I do miss the kickstand..
  • I thought MS said they won't make any 'me-too' products. So why would they make a traditional laptop? I guess they will keep improving the hinge and design until it's perfect.
  • Yeah, I wouldnt expect MS to try to be just another manufacturer making laptops - unless they add something unique that really challeneges the OEM offerings to push forward.
  • I would detach it every now and then. IF I HAD ONE!
  • I try not to, because I have a 200gb miniSD where I have all my documents (docs, music, videos, desktop, etc) and the most important OneDrive folder to cover tha lack of space I have on my 128gb hd cause I have VS2017 with Xamarin on it.
    I haven't seen any issue on having this configuration and detaching the base, but I don't want to be surprised if...
  • Is the SD card slot in the base? If so, that was an unfortunate choice.
  • Unfortunately, the SD card is in the base. Everytime I re-attach the screen (multiple times each day) I get a file manager window appearing showing the contents of my SD card. I wish there was a way to tell Windows to not show the SD Card in a window automaticaly when I re-attach the screen (anyone know how?), because it is just in the way. Other than that, I looooove my Surface Book. I would never consider purchasing a non-sccreen-detachable laptop again. I am a science teacher and I use it all the time in the office in laptop form to churn out class handouts and prepare other instructional materials.  When I go to class I detach the screen and wirelessly connect to the video projector. I do my lecture notes on the big screen for all to see and use OneNote. I can draw diagrams and solve problems with the pen with abandon. I absolutely need a detachable screen (and I can't imagine a teacher not feeling the same way once they have had the chance to use a Surface Book). I'd go back to a Surface Pro first before I purchase a non-screen-detachable clamshell design laptop. Can't for the life of me understand why Microsoft would not want to lead the market with an innovative and aspirational device like a Surface Book 2 with a detachable screen. If it's detachable, I will upgrade. If not, no deal.
  • You can change this by going to SETTINGS>DEVICES>AUTOPLAY.
  • Thank you so much! You just made my Surface Book that much better!
  • No problem.
  • I'm currently a Surface Pro 3 user, but I am planning on upgrading to the SB 2 when it comes out. Currently, I use my detached Surface for all kinds of things. Teaching from it, handing it around during meetings, Netflix, note taking, etc... If the display on the SB2 was undetachable, there's a good chance i'd have to stick with the Surface Pro line or buy a Surface Book 1. 
  • I was contemplating this on the way to work this morning.  I use my Surface 3 in tablet mode nearly every day at work.  I was thinking about what I'd upgarde to when I get to that point (which probably isn't too far off) and obviously considered the Surface Book in my daily application.  It would be off the table as a consideration for me if the took this feature away. 
  • I think they'll improve the hinge and that's the only way to go ahead or else if they remove the detachable feature it'll be a step back. Besides, there's no use of a touchscreen that isn't detachable
  • When I detach, it's usually just to snap it back on in reverse. My desk is set up so I have the SB next to the keyboard, and the docking station running to two additional monitors. It's my tablet for notation at the desk, but a regular laptop when I'm mobile.
  • When you say notation... What exactly do you mean?
  • I do a lot of handwriting on documents for markups. So its never detached for more than a moment or two while I just attach it back to the base and attach the base to the dock (more like port replicator). Having it in the tablet mode just makes it like my notebook on a table.
  • I do exactly the same thing with the same setup. So I detach it quite a bit, but just to turn it around the other direction, as I'm frequently using it in meetings or taking it home on weekends.
  • Same here as many folks. Detach every day, mainly to flip backwards for media and touch games. Rarely do I use the clipboard by itself. I do, but not very often. With that said, I would hate for the clipboard option to go away. Even though I rarely use it, it is important for me when I do.
  • I don't detach mine very often anymore except when people ask me about it. I know they did it to balance the weight, but I always think the missed opportunity with the SP4 and the SB was just to make the SP4 the screen. Just load up the base with a ton of batteries and give it a gpu. Just have the SB be an addon for the SP4. It wouldn't be that much heavier, and it would effectively double the battery life.
  • I agree - especially if they also offered a SP4 XL version at 13.5" or so. For me, the main appeal of the Surface Book is the larger screen.
  • agreed - that way you can have the kickstand in tablet mode while having the base for extra power
  • 😀
  • I chose the SP4 over the Book becuase I run in slate mode at least 50% of the time or more. At home, for personal use, I raraly have the keyboard attached. I wanted full battery life in slate mode. Obviously, those who chose the Book may have other priorities.
  • Also, the kickstand on the Surface Pro is a must-have feature that the Surface Book clipboard badly needs to emulate.
  • What they should do IMO is; Surface Pro gets a base as an added accessory. Surface Book become a straight up laptop.
  • This!
  • Indeed, this would be awesome! Merge the two Surface lines into one.
  • That would be great as an option - a big rigid base/dock, or slim type cover.
  • This was probably the main reason I chose to buy a surface book. I am not detaching it a lot but I appreciate the fact that I can do it.
  • Clipboard mode is great for reading, surfing the net, esp on the can.
  • Great that the SB has built-in canability!
  • "And would you be upset if the Surface Book 2 came in a laptop form factor?"
    Microsoft should keep working on the Surface Book (add a freaking kickstand to the Clipboard), but I'd be interested in a traditional laptop form factor with quad-core i7, GTX 1060 or higher graphics card, etc so long as it's priced competitively to comparably-equipped Windows laptops.
  • I don't have a Surface Book (yet), but I have a Lenovo 2in1 with detachable keyboard. And I detach it many times a day. I think the detachable form factor is far superior to 360 hinges, because when you detach the keyboard, you can use it much more like a tablet. With a 360 hinge, the keyboard gets in the way, and the whole thing is just too heavy. Other than that, I think the essence of the Surface Book is its unique hinge and the detachable keyboard, with all of the positions it can be in. SB without these is like Nutella without peanut. So I won't be upset, I'd be disappointed if they let it go.
  • When I do need it, it is for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator creating pen brushes and paint within my digital designs (I'm a web developer and graphic designer). It's nice to have this functionality to flip the tablet so it lies flat to draw. On its own, however, it seems a bit too heavy and long sometimes to hold. I guess I fear I might drop it.
  • If they change it into normal laptop, there will be nothing special about it. Surface products have always been about changing the normal. Even Microsoft said it. The rumor of it becoming a normal laptop is stupid and should be ignored. Last time I detached mine was yesterday and I detach it when I need to take it to a different room to do something really quick, and too lazy to take the keyboard.
  • Yeah, I see no reason for MS to make a standard laptop - unless they are going to do something else radical with it that we dont know about.
  • I hardly detach now. The only times I do it is to show off to other people (and to be real, to read news in the bathroom), other than that it stays on the base. I use mine for heavy audio editing and using the touchscreen and pen alone isn't as precise enough for me as the track pad.
  • I'm a software developer, so probably the least likely person to need to detach the screen, yet I do it all the time for taking notes in meetings and sketching out diagrams. When I'm not working I often flip the screen around to face behind the keyboard so I have a kind of "touch TV" for watching YouTube, Plex and Netflix.
  • When docked obviously not, buy I do like to have the lid with me at meetings and I do like to reverse the lid to watch films and a like.
  • I doubt Microsoft will do that but then again, this rumor made me think why not make surface pro 5 in such a way it can be attached to surface book base and make surfacebook 2 extremely thin, light weight, a pure laptop. I would really like it. 
  • Not a SB owner myself (SP4 instead) but I don't think MS should abandon the detachable hinge - if they do, it just becomes another laptop and it wouldn't serve much of a point. Surface should stick to it's (successful) efforts in being ground-breaking and trend setting, not following trends itself.
  • If they could implement a similar hinge to the Porsche Design Book One, but also include a solid graphics card, it would be the perfect device. At present I'm holding off either a PD Book One or a Surface book, because the former doesn't have a graphics card, but the latter has a hinge I dislike. Combine both for the ultimate all in 1 device MS!
  • Surface without keyboard (or with optional keyboard) = Surface Pro Surface with keyboard = Surface Book. If Surface Book and Surface Pro have both a keyboard and a detachable screen, what is the difference ? PS : I have a Surface Pro 4 and use it always with the keyboard. I didn't bought Surface Book becaus it was more expensive. I would love to have a cheaper Surface Book without detachable screen.
  • The clipboard part of the Surface Book does not have most ports except headphone output. You can charge it, but you don't have USB ports, DisplayPort, and SD card.
  • I detach / reverse from time time like when im using pen in onenote or if the Mrs and i are travelling and we want to watch a movie in bed. I love the hinge, it's not afraid to be different. At some point when it was time for an upgrade/refresh (not for a long while) if the book was laptop only id go back to the Surface pro.
  •   it will be a BIG BIG BIG NO NO NO NO if MS ever ever even in dream thought to kill this design....this is in itself single most unique and proud feature of surface book that seperates it from 99% of all other designs and vendors. i am happy to pay $3000 to get premium UNIQUE device than to pay $1200 and get what others are also offering
  • Don't have a Surface book so I won't vote, but if I had one I feel I would detach the screen on a regular basis depending what the battery life is like without the base.
  • I really like note taking & drawing with a pen vs keyboard but the ease of use isn't there yet from what I've seen of the SB and experienced with my SP3. I need to be able to switch between laptop & tablet almost instantly (both hardware & software), the screen resizing needs to work better & the pen experience needs to be more reliable. If that was improved then I'd switch between the two modes multiple times per day. Even now with my SP3 I do, but I hesitate everytime.
  • The only reason I was willing to pay the absurd price of the Surface Book is because of the versatility. If Microsoft kills that, they will at least save me a ton of money since I won't have any desire to upgrade. What am I going to do with a notebook?
  • I find myself un-attaching it, flipping it, and re-attaching it all the time.
  • I love the fact of being able to detach it. When I do, more often than not, I flip the screen and re-attach it and use it that way. It's has that slight tilt that makes for a rather comfortable use depending on where you're sitting. But I too would be disappointed if their new Surface Book doesn't detach.
  • I use the tablet in meetings or when traveling. I love the 2 in 1 feature.
  • Very rare for me to detach it. I think the best use case is in laptop mode. Have an original Surface Book 128GB here!
  • If I were to buy one, I'd use it just like my Surface Pro 2; as my Tablet, Notepad/Logbook/Sketchpad, Laptop AND Desktop (when docked). In the case of the Surface Pro 2, don't need to detach the keyboard to switch to Tablet form, instead, simply fold back the keyboard, which I do EVERYDAY I use it. So, I rarely ever detach its keyboard unless I'm going to be laying it on a somewhat dusty surface, in which case I'd prefer the fabric getting dusty (easy to clean) than dirt getting between my keyboard keys. In the case of the Surface Book, as it requires me to detach the keyboard to switch to Tablet form, I'll do that EVERYDAY as I switch between Laptop/Tablet form, whichever I see fit for my task at hand.
  • All the time
  • Next poll. How often do you use touch screen on Surface?
  • Constantly.
  • I use it often on my SP3, but I am regularly disappointed in the results. Windows just isn't designed for touch. It can be frustrating at times.
  • Pretty much all the time... more than I do on my Lenovo. Best touch screen I've ever had.
  • They already have the Surface Pro if you want a detachable 2 in 1. I would be interested to see where they take a new Surfacebook. They will have to find something else special for it. I don't see Microsoft releasing a normal laptop.
  • I use my Book in Laptop mode over 80% of the time BUT, I do detatch it almost EVERYDAY even if its just for a couple of minutes... This is my main workhorse device and it helps me get my mechanical and industrial 3D designs done.... Mostly in laptop mode (but there are a couple of good UWP app for tablet such as WEDGE... a 2.5D basic design app. However I am enlisted on a language class on saturdays and while I take notes on OneNote as a laptop by typing, I also do hand writing and work on assigments in Clipboard mode, using Drawboard (the books are in PDF)...   For me the detatchability was the main attraction for getting this device. I was looking forward to upgrade it frequently with newer generations, but if this is the way to go I might just upgrade to the Performance Base and that's it.
  • I defo detach it every day. I'm surprised no one mentionned how useful this is for students, researchers and any worker who works with long reports. If you primarily need a laptop but every now and then you need to read reports or papers that are dozens of pages long, the Surface Book offers the best form factor for this. No other device really allows you to consume and annotate full page pdfs as efficiently in tablet mode. a 360-design is too heavy and clunky for this.
  • We deployed several of these in our organization and no one detached them. One user even said she didn't realize that was a feature (even though we had shown her when she got it). We don't deploy them any more though and some have even turned them back in for a Lenovo laptop. The Surface Book is great but has too many odd glitches for us to deploy in the wild (lock ups, camera issues, losing the mouse cursor). I'm using one alternately with a Lenovo Carbon X1 and I hardly ever detach either. Occasionally I'll do the flip around thing to remove the "barrier" in meetings as others have mentioned.