Hum? OK, well having used both in the last 6 months (and still moved on to Kubuntu) I'll give it a go.
Mandriva 2006 -from an "ease of use" point of view, it's very good (baring in mind that I was using the "paid for" version). It's quite straight forward with nice, easy package management. It's easy to get more mirrors/repositories etc up and running to get third party packages. Theres lots of support out there. The default packages are a varied and IMO good selection. Additional ones that I installed seemed to "just work".
Downside, well it's not quite as "cutting edge" as SuSE 10.1 - i.e. I wanted to try the mega eye candy that is Xgl/Compiz and I couldn't find any stuff about it i.e. it would probably have been that I'd have had to install it from tar.gz files. Hence I gave the SuSE 10.1 a try.
SuSE 10.1 - well it installed fine, but when it came to package management - it's good, but it didn't seem to be as straight forward as the Mandriva. You can add additional repositories/mirrors, but it's not so straight forward a process as it was with Mandriva (I should point out, that if at all possible, I would only install packages that had been prepared for the specific distro i.e. SuSE rpm's for SuSE and Mandriva ones for mandriva - I found that to try to install a mix 'n match was possible, but often led to "dependency hell").
As already mentioned, package management under Mandriva is better than SuSE, though to be fair, I'd been using various Mandrake/Mandriva for 3 > 4 years on and off. I found the way that SuSE wanted to do things, not quite so straight forward or n00b friendly.
If a completely new user asked me, I would say that either mandriva or the one that I currently use, Kubuntu (which is the kde front ended version of Ubuntu, which is gnome based - I've tried but never really got on with gnome).
Like Mandriva, I've had no real problems with Kubuntu and it's packages are as easy to install/update. There are plenty of up to date packages so I can get most of the eye candy that I want. As it's debian based, it has access to just about the largest package list of any single distro. It's only one disc so it's quite easy to get downloaded i.e. no lengthy list of CD's.
It's fair to say that between mandriva and SuSE, SuSE should win hands down, because it's owned by Novell, who have lots of money to throw at it, plus they've started the "openSuSE" thing so it has greater community backing - I suspect that the Novell connection is why it is slightly more "cutting edge".
Nah! I'm trying to run it through my head, but I still feel that if you tried Kubuntu, you wouldn't go far wrong. You get it installed, ensure it's connected to the net, modify the "sources.list" (which is where you tell it which mirrors you want to be able to get packages from) and then run "synaptic" package manager. If you didn't understand how to change the sources.list stuff, you can find excellent advice here
it's just a case of clicking a few boxes and getting the automatically prepared file and copying it to the correct location and off you go.
The upside of (K)Ubuntu is that the debian connection means that it's whats known as a "meta" distibution. So when the next verion is released, you just change the name for the distro in the sources and it will update/upgrade the whole thing. You can't do that with either SuSE or Mandriva as far as I've been aware.
At the end of the day, it's your system, your choice. See if you can find any reviews too read. There was a recent "face off" in the online magazine "Tux" and mandriva came top, but with (K)Ubuntu close behind, SuSE was about 5th ot 6th.