Most of what needs to be said about this text has already been said, so let me highlight a few things and let you buy it.
2. Buying the large print is suggested for 2 reasons: 1) It's easier to read (or yes, get the small print for almost the same price, and also buy a magnifier to help your eyes if you want; but then you will have paid the price for the large print); 2) It's only a few dollars more than the harder-to-read small print.
3. Buying the large print, though tough to carry to class, is no big deal. Buy an ABS, noncritical copy of BHS for $9.95 for the classroom. When the Hebrew class goes into the lessons for the critical apparatus, then lug the thing in for a few weeks. When done, leave the big book home.
4. Regarding the Hebrew text, it must be remembered that the vowel points and cantillation marks are, in fact, an interpretation, usually correct but occasionally can be pointed differently.
"There are interesting cases where the cantillations seem not to follow the divisions you'd expect (not always for melodic or prosodic reasons), and seem to constitute a sort of simultaneous commentary on the text. My favorite example is the phrase in Deut. 26:5, "'arami 'oved 'avi". The simple interpretation, correct in the context, would be "My father was a wandering Aramean." In the passover seder service, though, the verse is
read with a different parsing and meaning, for the purposes of exegesis: "An Aramean [tried to] destroy my father." Interestingly, the cantillations agree with the latter, homiletical interpretation, and not the former one."--M. E. Shoulson
5. The consonantal text, as Gesenius states, has more corruption than we may want to admit, but also, it's not enough to question the authority of the text. The correct consonantal text is 99% of the time discernible. These corruptions arose before the scribes of the BC days began to be more careful. Afterward, the preservation of the text was so stringent that even the known corruptions were preserved up to the time of the Masoretes; and they continued to do so, but provided the corrections.
6. The Masorets who pointed the text with vowel points did make relatively unimportant mistakes, sort of like anyone misspelling a word, using the right consonants but using the wrong vowel, such as "certin" for "cerain." Sometimes, they even ended up creating what we consider nonsense words. BUt corrections are available through the critical apparatus or Gesenius to name a couple sources.
7. The critical apparatus serves as a kind of internal commentary to the text, providing alternate readings according to other manuscripts and traditions. In my opinion, this is far better than following the similar critical information found in an English Bible. The Masoretes were scholars, living closer to the original text, living in religious Hebrew understanding, speakers of Hebrew. They were the keepers of a long tradition for preserving the text. So, I would tend to trust a Masorete a bit more than an English-speaking Hebrew Scholar, of which there are many liberals more interested in putting their personal views and issues into the text rather than trying to preserve in English what the Hebrew really says, like it or not.
So, the BHS text is a must for the serious Hebrew student, and for reasons of financial common sense and eye care, buy the bigger one.