Not deceptively easy, it IS easy. When I was in Japan I was told that the mandolin is an instrument given to secondary school students who didn't start violin in elementary school. The feeling is that if you don't start violin early enough, you will never be able to play it well, but anyone at any age can learn mandolin. We all won't be able to play like Sam Bush, but I play mandolin in public all the time, and I doubt I could ever do that with violin.
As for tab vs. notation, there is PLENTY of notation out there for mandolin. If you don't like tablature, you never have to look at it again in your life.
Anyway, welcome to the wonderful world of mandolin. One bit of warning: it's easier to misplace your pick than to misplace your bow!
Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
When time is broke and no proportion kept!