An iPad or other tablet isn't a notebook computer, any more than a smartphone is a tablet, or a notebook computer is a desktop computer. But, with the right understanding of what it is and how it does - and doesn't - work, along with a modest, affordable handful of accessories and apps, an iPad may be good enough, for those times when you're away from the comfort of your desk, large display(s), full-sized keyboard, external mouse/trackball and comfy chair, and don't want to bring a notebook. (See Tablets and Smartphones Will Truly Start Killing the PC in 2015, Says Report.)

"I don't see tablets, including the iPad, as replacements for notebooks," says Nathan Clevenger, author of the new book iPad in the Enterprise, and chief software architect at management and IT consulting firm ITR Mobility. "Rather, they displace a lot of the things you would do on those devices."

Ernest Lilley, Senior Editor, TechRevu, says, "For me, my iPad really doesn't work as a desktop replacement -- but it is so darn handy that I find it reduces the amount of time I spend on a desktop machine significantly."

Plus, an iPad can do a lot that your notebook can't, or not as well -- like be an eBook/videoplayer/presentor/etc. (Otherwise, why did you buy it?)

iPads aren't notebooks

It's essential that you understand the difference between an iPad tablet and a desktop OS-based portable computer. (Not all of this may be true for non-iOS tablets.)

For example: The display is smaller than just about any notebooks. There's no mouse or trackpad. The display shows only one app at a time. No Windows Explorer-type directory/file navigation.

Even so, with the right apps, accessories and any required IT buy-in, a tablet PC may provide a surprisingly good substitute for a travel-oriented notebook computer. Along with, of course, being a touchscreen tablet, which presumably is why you bought it in the first place.

Accessorizing for business

Start by getting a spare iPad-level power supply. The iPad requires 10 watts, twice what many USB ports or standard USB AC chargers provide, so if you forget or lose yours, you'll get much slower recharge, or none at all.

Next, get a keyboard. Do your research, there are a dozen or so choices. Some include cases, some connect via Bluetooth. One suggestion: look for keyboards with iPad-oriented function keys, rather than for Win/MacOS. And try before you buy!

Daniel Dern is an independent technology and business writer, who has written one Internet user guide, and thousands of features, reviews and other articles for various technology and business publications, and was the founding Editor-in-Chief at Internet World magazine, and editor of Byte.com. His blog can be found at http://www.tryingtechnology.com/ and he can be reached at dern@pair.com.

Also, get key iPad cables and adapters collection, like an Apple Digital AV Adapter ($39.00) so you can connect to external HDMI monitors, projectors, and the like, and also an Apple VGA Adapter ($29.00). And an Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit ($29.00), which consists of one adapter for an SD card, and one for a camera's USB cable.

And a pouch or zip-lock bag for all this stuff.

There's no shortage of other iPad-oriented accessories, but these, which should run somewhere between $200 to $250, should get you ready, hardware wise.

Tomorrow, in Part 2, I'll short-list various free and paid apps for the iPad that, similarly, will help your iPad do some, perhaps much, of what you'd normally need a notebook for.